Archive for the ‘economy’ Category

Who will be the first lender to drop mortgage rates?

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

After yesterdays Bank of Canada rate cut we’re seeing lots of articles about what this means for the housing market.

Reasonably enough economists are predicting a dip in mortgage rates after this cut, but so far the big banks don’t seem to be in a hurry.

However, TD Bank was quick to announce Wednesday it will maintain its prime interest rate at three per cent, noting that factors beyond the central bank influence its rates.

“Not only do we operate in a competitive environment, but our prime rate is influenced by the broader economic environment, and its impact on credit,” the bank said in a statement.

And the Royal Bank appeared in no hurry to drop rates either, saying in an email response to a query that “while we don’t have any product announcements to make at this time, we are considering the impact of today’s Bank of Canada decision.”

It was anticipated that the Bank of Canada would move to increase its overnight rate later this year due to an improving economy, until crude prices started to slide and dropped below US$50 a barrel.

Phil Soper, president of realtor Royal LePage, predicted Canadians could be shopping for cheaper mortgages within days.

“It doesn’t take long to react to a policy change like this,” Soper said. “That’s why it’s such a powerful tool.”

Read the full article over at Yahoo.

BOC chops rate in race for bottom

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

If you’ll recall you’ve been warned many times by a number of government talking heads that rates could go up at any time.

Today the Bank of Canada finally took action and cut rates by a quarter from 1% to 0.75%.

Speaking to reporters, Mr. Poloz said the oil price drop is “unambiguously bad” for the Canadian economy, prompting the bank to take out what he called an “insurance policy” against future risks, such as weak inflation and a household debt squeeze. But he denied the move was calculated to send the Canadian dollar lower.

“Market consequences will be what they are,” he said.

The rate cut sent the loonie plummeting below 81 cents (U.S.).

Mr. Poloz, who acknowledged that oil dominated the bank’s discussions leading up to Wednesday’s rate decision, said he’s ready to cut rates again if prices fall further.

“The world changes fast and if it changes again, we have room to take out more insurance,” he said.

The rate move, which few analysts anticipated, is an attempt by Mr. Poloz to shield highly indebted Canadian households from an oil-induced hit to their jobs and incomes – signs of which are already evident in Alberta.

In the comments section here, Dave asked the question: How much of the BC economy is tied to Oil and Alberta?

I would like to know how much of a hit the damage to Alberta will be to BC. It seems to me that everybody underestimates the economic impact. I think our statistics don’t capture the role of Alberta in our economy. I think I read that Westjet estimated 5,000 people in the Okanagan work in the oil patch. And that’s just them trying to estimate things for their benefit (i.e. people who buy plane tickets). How many work from home on their computers? Or only make a few trips per year and don’t get picked up the radar? How many work in the Okanagan but for companies that service the oil patch? Add it all up and there is a LOT of employment related to Alberta.

 

Is the Globe and Mail trolling you?

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Many Franks pointed out what has to be the most bizarre ‘financial facelift’ feature yet over at the Globe and Mail.

You think you have money troubles? Look at these poor people!

[Eric] earns $200,000 a year working one day a week in a medical clinic. But his real love is teaching, which he does one day a week at a university; this earns him $100,000 a year.

WHAT?!

“It is financially possible for them to do the things that are important to them, although by doing so, they will run a cash flow deficit of $50,000 a year until the children leave home,” Mr. MacKenzie says. Over time, their annual deficits will add up to more than $1-million in additional debt.

WHAT?!

They are living rent free in a relative’s house (they pay taxes, utilities and upkeep) and “regret not having bought a house years ago,” Eric writes in an e-mail.

WHAT?!

Eric and Ilsa are fortunate because their parents are willing to put a home equity line of credit on their own home to extend them the $1-million they need to build, and to finance their annual deficit, the planner notes.

WHAT?!

 

Investors bet against Canada

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Why is everybody picking on us?

Investors are betting against our dollar, equities, even our bank stocks.

Markets also see further declines for the loonie, which was quoted buying 84 U.S. cents at 11:35 a.m. and has dropped 8.4% against its U.S. counterpart over the past year. Wagers against the currency outnumbered those for it — so-called net shorts — by 17,087 positions as of Jan. 6, the most since Dec. 5,  according to data from the Washington-based Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

For Merrill Lynch, the risk is the slowdown in the oilsands will seep into a housing market “already saddled with near-record levels of household leverage.”

Canada’s ratio of household debt to disposable income rose to a record 162.6% between July and September, according to data released last month. Benchmark interest rates of 1% have fanned a house-buying frenzy that sent 2014 sales up 6.7% in Toronto and 16% in Vancouver.

Read the full article in the Financial Post.

Deutsche Bank: Canada is 63% overvalued

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

If there was a competition for ‘most bearish outlook’ on Canadian real estate Deutsche Bank would take home the prize.

When local banks say real estate is overvalued in Canada they usually go with a safe 10-20% figure.  The Bank of Canada recently said 10-30% overvalued which is pretty damn bearish, but not quite as extreme as this.

Research by Deutsche Bank chief international economist Torsten Slok even manages to out-bear the Economist Magazines estimations:

Broken down, Slok sees the market as being 35-per-cent overvalued when compared to incomes, and 91-per-cent overvalued when compared to rents. That’s a more bearish assessment than most. The Bank of Canada estimates the market is overvalued by between 10 per cent and 30 per cent.

But those are similar numbers to those at the Economist magazine, which for years has been calling Canada’s housing market overvalued. It pegs the overvaluation at 32 per cent, when compared to incomes, and 75 per cent, when compared to rents.

“Canada is in serious trouble,” reads the title of a chart from Slok’s report, showing Canada’s household debt, as a percentage of income, climb to 50 per cent above current levels in the U.S.

See the charts and read the full article here.

 

Oil Prices drive Shell to cut Canadian Jobs

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Shell is cutting hundreds of jobs in Alberta as oil price drops change everything.

Already, some companies have put longer-term oil sands projects on hold until markets stabilize, which analysts say may not start to happen until at least midway through 2015. And service industries that support the sector have cut jobs as business has slowed.

Northern Alberta’s oil sands have among the highest development costs in global energy, so operations are particularly vulnerable to skidding crude prices. North American benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude fell 43 cents to $48.36 a barrel on Friday, down from more than $100 in June.

Shell said it is laying off less than 10 per cent of the 3,000 workers at the Albian Sands project, one of five major oil sands mining ventures.

A spokesman for the company declined to give exact job-loss numbers, but a labour official in Fort McMurray, who does not represent Shell workers, pegged them at around 200.

Read the full article here.

How to prepare for interest rate hikes.

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

We should be well and deep into the ‘boy who cried wolf’ territory by now.

How long have you heard warnings that interest rates may be going up?

We’ve all become so used to hearing that it’s going to be a big surprise if they do.

The CBC has an article that says interest rates will go up this year and here are 4 ways Canadians should prepare.

#3 is ‘don’t rush to buy a home':

Higher interest rates could also lead to a correction in the housing market.

“The big issue as far as I can see is that people panic and think they have to get into the housing market before interest rates climb. But they have to recognize the overall long-term impact of interest rates actually climbing,” says Laurie Campbell, CEO of Credit Canada Debt Solutions.

Homebuyers who rush out to purchase homes to beat a spike in rates could end up with homes dropping in value.

“I think people have to be vigilant about any big purchases they may be making in the next little while. Housing in particular,” Heath says. “If someone is considering purchasing a house, they have to really look at more normal interest rates during their budgeting.”

Read the full article here.

House prices driving away key workers?

Monday, December 29th, 2014

High housing prices in Vancouver are driving away the key working demographic of 25-40 year olds – more are moving to other provinces than moving in from other provinces.

This article was pointed out by crikey.

Despite the challenges, numerous companies interviewed by Reuters said most of their staff are willing to make sacrifices — like long commutes or raising kids in shoebox condos — for the benefit of Vancouver’s mild climate and outdoor lifestyle.

But those same companies, such as Vancouver-based retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op, also had examples of key hires who ultimately turned down jobs because of the high home prices.

It’s an issue Craig Hemer, an executive recruiter with Boyden, has been grappling with for the better part of a decade.

Hemer has learned ways to soften the blow — selling older executives on the idea of downsizing to a luxurious downtown condo and convincing those with families that suburban life offers more amenities for kids.

And how do the companies react to this challenge?

Companies too are shifting their policies, with some offering car allowances and transit subsidies. Others are opening small suburban offices or allow staff to telecommute from home.

But that isn’t always enough, especially in Vancouver’s start-up scene. Executives say it is easy enough to hire junior staff, but a dearth of experienced engineers and technology workers makes it hard to grow past a certain point.

“There’s just not enough high calibre people here. They all leave when they realize they can make more money in other cities and live there for cheaper,” said Simeon Garratt, chief executive of Spark CRM, a property-focused tech start-up.

“We debate at least once a month whether we should just move to Toronto.”

Read the full article here.

Vancouver and Toronto ‘Desperation’ cities?

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Over at the Globe and Mail Rob Carrick points out that real estate is expensive in Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver calling them ‘Desperation cities‘.

But let’s get real.  Not being able to afford a condo isn’t a ‘desperate’ circumstance.

Maybe it’s the fall out of overpaying he’s talking about though…

The theme in housing market forecasts for 2015 so far is steady pricing. Some markets will more or less be flat, while the Big Three markets could rise 3 to 4 per cent. What more could go wrong if you’re struggling to save enough money to buy a first home? Here’s something: You buy and then have to deal with a shock to the economy. Something like a plunge in oil prices that undermines growth and hurts the job market, for example.

In any case if you have shelter, enough food and the company of loved ones you’re pretty lucky on a global scale.  Maybe you’d be happier with granite countertops, but then again maybe you wouldn’t.

 

Subprime lending in Canada ‘rockets’ to record high

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

It’s a been a while since CMHC mortgage lending rules have been ramped back to more historical levels.

After dabbling in American style 40 year zero down mortgages we decided that might not be the best idea. Unfortunately we never did get the American style locked in interest rate for the full duration of the loan.

So now we’re back to 25 year terms and it’s more difficult to get a loan if you’re self employed.  A lot of loan applications that would have been approved a year or two ago are now being rejected.

So what affect has this had on the market so far?

Well apparently the sub-prime lending market in Canada has rocketed to a record level for one.

Capital Corp is a non-bank lender that has been operating since 1988. Their chief executive Eli Dadouch says there’s a lot of money out there for non-bank loans to higher risk borrowers.

He said there is no question it’s the top of the real estate cycle, so anybody lending out money has to be more careful today.

“People always want to deal with a bank, it’s the cheapest form of money,” he said. “When they come to us and people like us, it is because there is some type of story [behind why they can’t get credit]. It’s easy  to lend money, the talent in this business is getting it back.”

Read the full article in the Financial Post.

 

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