Tag Archives: credit

Moody’s down on Canadian Banks

In one fell swoop the credit rating agency Moody’s brought down the credit rating of six Canadian banks.

RBC was the only big bank to escape this downgrade cycle.

So why is Moody’s picking on us?

“High levels of consumer indebtedness and elevated housing prices leave Canadian banks more vulnerable than in the past to downside risks the Canadian economy faces,” David Beattie, vice-president at Moody’s said in a note.

Canadian consumer debt has risen to a record-high 165 per cent of disposable income in the third quarter of 2012, up from 137 per cent in mid-2007. Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney has repeatedly warned about these levels, but they remain stubbornly high.

Sure, Mark Carney has warned about this, but he’s gone now… doesn’t that mean the problem is gone too?

As always Mr. Flaherty is there to reassure us Canadas banks are the ‘soundest in the world’.

In other news… it’s not a bubble, it’s a balloon.

Image source: wreckonomics at Vancouver Peak.

 

 

BC has the highest personal debt loads

We’re number 1!

The province of British Columbia has the highest level of personal debt anywhere in Canada and it’s still growing.

With incomes low and house prices high, it’s not an entirely unexpected result.  But even if you remove house debt we have very high levels.  Not including mortgage debt, simple consumer debt averages $37,879 in BC.

And that of course has led to a rising number of bankruptcies. In the last four years bankruptcy rates across Canada have gone up 11%, here in BC the number is up 42%.

That Province article also talks about the ‘elation’ of declaring bankruptcy, but that usually only occurs after some one has used up all their other options and burnt up money they could have kept:

“People often come to see a trustee as a last resort, when credit is turned off and they can no longer borrow from one card to pay another,” Mantin says. “They come in and say ‘I regret that I didn’t know about these options sooner. All I’ve done over the last two years is tread water.'”

Frantic people make decisions that will compromise their future, Mantin says. One of the worst is cashing in RRSPs.

For one thing, only the last 12 months of RRSP contributions need be surrendered in a bankruptcy. And those who sacrifice an RRSP without learning to live within a budget are not facing the underlying issue, Mantin says.

“Unless they’re forced to make a behavioural change, I often find they’re in the same position a year or two later,” he says. “They’ve dealt with the short-term debt but haven’t solved the budget problem so they run their debts up again.”

Read the full article here.

Paying debt with debt

This Globe and Mail article starts like this:

A new poll suggests that most Canadians are quite comfortable with using debt as a financial strategy – at a time when debt loads have risen to alarming new highs.

Shouldn’t that be the other way around?  Canadians are quite comfortable using debt as a financial strategy and that has driven debt loads to alarming new highs.

The survey shows 9 out of 10 respondents would consider borrowing money to pay for an unexpected $2,000 cost.  Yeah, that’s right: $2k. These people appear to have little or no financial buffer.

While 55 per cent said they were extremely or very confident they could raise the cash, 92 per cent said they’d consider borrowing to come up with some of the cash.

Less than half – 45 per cent – said they’d never faced a debt problem.

The poll results come as Canadian debt-to-income ratios sit at a record 152 per cent and top officials issue warnings to start paying down debt before interest rates rise.

The findings suggest consumers have been unmoved by warnings that rates will inevitably rise and that the resulting financial burden could sink some households.

“It’s frightening to see that Canadians have become totally blasé about debt – it’s becoming their new ‘normal’ and they’re numb to this dangerous trend,” says Douglas Hoyes, a bankruptcy trustee with Hoyes, Michalos & Associates Inc.

“For many, the use of debt to not only pay for big ticket items like cars, but also to cover day-to-day living expenses, has become commonplace.”

Now compare this to the USA in 2006 where household debt grew at a record level, but a housing boom had also boosted networth.  Some were concerned about unsustainably high house prices, but Ben Bernanke said that he would not prick asset bubbles.

And he didn’t.

In fact the US government did everything in its power to prevent house prices from collapsing.  They pumped money into the system, drove down interest rates and came up with all sorts of programs to prevent people from losing their homes.

You may be surprised to find out what happened to house prices in the US since then, especially the ‘hot’ markets like Florida, Arizona, California and Nevada.

Housing market keeps on cooling

The Globe and Mail has an article about the drop off in real estate sales across the nation.

It’s got some gems in it for predictions from bankers and real estate associations, but it’s also got the standard partial information about ‘government interference’.

As evidence mounted that rock-bottom interest rates were fuelling house prices and consumer debt loads, Mr. Flaherty has changed mortgage insurance rules four times, each time making it more difficult for consumers to take on housing-related debt.

While the three previous rounds crimped both housing activity and the demand for credit, economists and real estate industry experts say this latest round, which took effect July 9, looks as if it is having a bigger impact.

And off course what’s missing is any mention of the government previous moves to make it easier for consumers to take on housing-related debt: moving amortization from 25 to 30 to 35 years, dropping down payment requirements all the way to zero down and shoveling money into mortgage buybacks via the CMHC.

So anyways, it’s getting harder to buy than it was when you could get a zero down mortgage with a longer amortization schedule.  And what sort of horrors has this wrought?

A number of economists, real estate agents, and industry observers say that many prospective first-time buyers have found themselves unable to secure a mortgage, especially in Toronto and Vancouver, and are therefore remaining renters.

Paula Roberts, a mortgage broker based in Markham, Ont., said one of her clients, a young teacher, was preapproved under the old rules, but now that she has found a home she likes, is having trouble securing the mortgage. She will likely have to get someone to co-sign the loan, or come up with a larger down payment, Ms. Roberts said.

“It’s really hindering people,” she said. “Her rent is basically the same as her mortgage payments.” In Ms. Roberts’ opinion, “it’s always better to try to buy something instead of rent.”

Of course, it’s always better to try to buy ..Says the mortgage broker.  Business slowing down Paula?

But this article ends on a bit of a down note for those hoping for a ‘plateau’

David Madani, a bearish economist at Capital Economics, reiterated his forecast Monday that house prices will fall 25 per cent in the next year or two. “The first sign of trouble at the peak of the U.S. housing bubble was that home sales began to drop in 2005, well before house prices began to fall in 2006,” he wrote in a research note.

Read the full article at the Globe and Mail.

Friday Free-for-all!

It’s that time of the week again!  Friday is when we do our regular end of the week news roundup and open topic discussion thread for the weekend.  Here are a few links to kick off the chat:

Vancouver market in full retreat
Championship of lost sales
REBGV news release for July 2012
GVREB news release for July 2012
How much $ has left the economy?
New site forces realtors to compete
‘Think Housing’ contest winners
Renovation Boom
BCSC alleges million $ fraud
No new steps to cool market
New framework for credit unions
Global slowdown dashes hopes
Unsold Toronto condos growing

And here’s a couple of charts, the first one is from VMD and shows what the average Vancouver house price has done in the last two years:

This second chart is from Ben Rabidoux and was linked by Jesse – you can draw on your own red line for July:

So what are you seeing out there?  Post your news links, thoughts and anecdotes here and have an excellent weekend!