In my opinion, even if we can muster the societal will, it will take at least another new generation of Canadians to reverse the trend because after more than a decade of global ZIRP & NIRP and Canada's slide into becoming one of the most unaffordable countries to live in (Demographia), Canadians are up to their necks in household debt.
From: mortgagebrokernews.ca Sept 16, 2019
The economic slowdown in China is on, being driven by "risky lending and a rapid rise in debt levels". That sounds familiar to me and I have plotted it out on my Canadian Household Debt, GDP, Balance of Trade and FDI chart.
After decades of sharp expansion, the Chinese economy is slowing down. Growth in 2018 is set to be the weakest since 1990. And 2019 looks even worse. The world's second largest economy is feeling the effects of a darkening trade outlook and government attempts to rein in risky lending after a rapid rise in debt levels. "The drivers of China's slowdown have yet to have their full impact on the economy, and the combination of both is unprecedented," analysts at Moody's wrote in a research note this month. "This creates a high degree of uncertainty and risk. CNN Business December 30. 2018
The USD which is the "senior currency" continues to go up in value when measured against other currencies. That is having a profound effect on global foreign debt holders that have to raise US dollars to repay their loans with their "depreciating" local currencies.
A further, significant strengthening in the dollar will tell us when the Deflationary endgame for the global economy is gathering force. It will crush debtors, bankrupt creditors and lop at least four or five zeroes worth of funny money from the banking system’s quadrillion-dollar shell-game. I have written extensively on why hyperinflation is extremely unlikely to settle debts that have become vastly too large to repay. If you cannot understand why, let me pose this question: Do you actually believe the banksters will let you pay off your mortgage with a few hundred-thousand-dollar bills that you’ve peeled from your wallet? If you answered in the negative, you are implicitly a deflationist.
The C.D. Howe Institute study estimates of money laundering in Canada range from $5 billion to $100 billion. C.D. Howe Report, September 2018
A return to savings will eventually allow the pendulum of capital investment to return to productive use. But asset deflation is in view now and we don't yet know it's future length of trend.
One asset class that retains value and even grows during a broad deflationary event is precious metals; and that canary in the coal mine is happening now. See my ongoing chart study of "real" gold and real estate.
December 31, 2018 note to clients:
As I have been pointing out on my chart of TSX INDEXES for Energy, Real Estate, Financial Services, Gold and the Bank of Canada Commodities in $CAD, that...
...the Thompson Reuters CRB chart shows that global commodities measured in USD has been dropping since 2008, although recently since September (2018), there has been a near term rally in commodities... BUT
...since Oct 3, 2018, the Thomson Reuters/CoreCommodity CRB Index has been coiling down.
On my Twitter Feed from @hks55 came their chart suggesting that the commodity super cycle is poised for another leg down due to China's slowdown in credit creation that had spurred the commodity boom as Kyle Bass illustrates in this comparison between Chinese credit creation and their GDP (the link includes the 41 second video).
China’s Slower Credit Growth
Underscores Worries Over Economy
Bloomberg, Aug 2018
While China’s characteristics are unique, there is a distinct pattern of policy activism that can be seen globally that has been of limited effectiveness in curbing house price appreciation. The housing
Apparently it's still global and a lot of us are in the deep end of the debt pool now. Makeway for China as the water level rises.
By contrast, between 2009 and 2015, households had added an average of just three percentage points to their debt-to-GDP ratio each year, and that includes a large jump of 5.5 percentage points in 2009 as banks ramped up lending in response to the global financial crisis. Before 2009, household debt levels had hovered around 18 percent of GDP for five years. In other words, the debt burden for Chinese consumers has nearly tripled in the past decade.
Part of that rapid debt expansion has been deliberate. China’s government has encouraged increased borrowing and spending on items like cars and houses, to boost both consumption and investment. At the G-20 summit in February 2016, China’s sober central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan remarked that rising household leverage had “a certain logic to it.”
At the same time, a generational shift is unfolding. Younger, urban Chinese are proving more willing to bring their consumption forward to today rather than pushing it off to the future as their parents did.
Most worryingly, though, skyrocketing home prices seem to be driving much of the increase in household debt. Andrew Polk, Bloomberg, February 2018
China's economy is headed for a difficult decade.
Michael Pettis, March 2018
In December 2017, the 10yr less 2yr Canada Government bond spread narrowed to just 32 beeps away from inversion.
A year and half later the wide reached 230 beeps in May 2009, 2 months after the pit of gloom crash bottom.
We should start watching for further narrowing now especially with equity markets at their historical tops.
Market history is littered with downturns that followed new Republican presidents: Hoover (1929), Eisenhower (1953), Nixon (1969), Reagan (1981), and Bush (2001). The Trump bubble will likely prove to be the mother of all Republican presidential ebullience bubbles. Trade wars are not positive at all for the markets. They are what exacerbated the Great Depression and they should be one of the key triggers of the bursting of the China bubble.
Here's Who Could Lose the Most in a U.S.-China Trade War
Bloomberg, January 23, 2017
"OSFI tells some banks to test for sharp drops in Vancouver, Toronto housing markets" July 26, 2016 CBC News
“B.C.’s 15% tax on foreign homebuyers could drive money to other parts of Canada” July 26, 2016 Financial Post
"Tory won't rule out a tax on foreign real estate buyers in Toronto" July 28, 2016 Toronto Sun
"Chinese-language media up in arms over B.C. foreign buyer tax" July 28, 2016 Globe & Mail
“Does this set a dangerous precedent in the minds of foreign investors across Canada?" July 29, 2016 Mortgage Broker News
It must be my age, but when I see politicians trying to solve problems via blunt taxation, I move even closer towards being a grumpy old man - death and taxes - they suck, literally. Here are a few ideas while we wait for the July housing numbers to come out next month.
In November 2011, I came across the idea of the APT, the ‘Automated Payment Transaction Tax’ which eliminates the need to file tax or information returns. A year later I posted links to the APT and since then I have continued to encourage media, politicians and potential influencers to at least look at the thesis.
To my dismay I have had insignificant response. I think this is because we have too much tax and are immersed in its complexity and we have not enough death of tired old ideas that should be retired with every generation.
The Automated Payment Transaction Tax
In its simplest form, the APT tax consists of a flat tax levied on all transactions. The tax is automatically assessed and collected when transactions are settled through the electronic technology of the banking/payments system.
The APT tax introduces progressivity through the tax base since the volume of final payments includes exchanges of titles to property and is therefore more highly skewed than the conventional income or consumption tax base.
The wealthy carry out a disproportionate share of total transactions and therefore bear a disproportionate burden of the tax despite its flat rate structure.
The automated recording of all APT tax payments by firms and individuals creates a degree of transparency and perceived fairness that induces greater tax compliance. Also, the tax has lower administrative and compliance cost.
Think about the desirability and feasibility of replacing the present system of personal and corporate income, sales, excise, capital gains, import and export duties, gift and estate taxes with a single comprehensive revenue neutral Automated Payment Transaction tax.
Implementation of this elegant and simple idea in Canada would allow Canadians to create an original, authentic social organization that would eventually be copied by other nations. Let's apply the power of the internet to get this Automated Payments Transaction Tax idea into the public square of discussion and then into application.
Canadians, write your Member of Parliament." Foreign readers take this idea back to your jurisdiction and spark the conversation there. Some country will be first in the implementation of the APT thesis.
In my opinion the APT or a variant of it will happen one day as sure as Uber, Airbnb and Torrents have arrived and driverless freeways will eventually emerge. It’s a peer to peer thing; it’s the internet, it’s inevitable. “Software is eating the world.” Marc Andreessen.
A micro tax on all financial transactions reduces the burden on all individuals and allows our governors to manage our spending requirements in a transparent progressive way. The APT thesis calculations were based on U.S. taxation revenues and expenditures from the late 1990’s. The potential tax base has increased significantly since then; think of the machine initiated equity, fixed income and commodity exchange transactions that go on day and night. Here is a snippet from the 41 Page PDF authored by Edgar L. Feige, Professor of Economic Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison:
The APT tax rate from the original study publication in 2000 achieved the goals of replacing the present system of personal and corporate income, sales, excise, capital gains, import and export duties, gift and estate taxes with a single comprehensive revenue neutral Automated Payment Transaction tax of only 0.15% on each side of the transaction for a total of 0.3% on any financial transaction.
The APT tax proposed is designed as a revenue neutral replacement for the present tax system. It is emphatically not intended as an additional source of revenue. It proposes to broaden the tax base by eliminating all implicit tax expenditures, all exemptions, deductions and credits while adding to the tax base the enormous volume of transactions representing exchanges of property rights to real and financial assets and liabilities. The flat rate tax required to maintain revenue neutrality is estimated to be in the neighborhood of 0.6 percent if total transactions volumes fall to half of their current levels.
PART II - The Need for Policy Reform
Clearly, a 15% provincial tax on Vancouver housing purchases by foreign buyers will simply move what little demand there is from this sector to other jurisdictions. Hot speculative money whether clean or dirty is transnational.
Look at Canada’s record of Federal Direct Investment; in full year 2015 there was a huge spike in FDI OUT such that for every $1 of FDI coming into Canada there is $1.31 going out to get a better return on Capital and Labour. In short, our Canadian investor class, like most other global players, looks for leverage and arbitrage opportunities outside of Canada. This is a trend that has been widening and unbroken since 1997 throughout the last five federal governments (4 Liberal, 1 Conservative).
Meanwhile after seven years of nitro-fueled Zero Interest Rate Policy, we have only increased our consumption habits and widened our debt load across both private and public sectors. While the private sector binges on low cost credit, our multi-level governance is shifting more to fiscal policy since monetary policy has not worked as promoted. Yes - CPI remains muted, No - we have no control over what consumers will do with easy credit especially since competing governmental departments encourage minimum equity positions when borrowing. After seven years, the Bank of Canada is still trying to figure it out:
With the next renewal (of the “Inflation Control Target”) approaching in 2016, the Bank is focusing its review and research in the following three areas:
1) The Level of the Inflation Target
2) Financial Stability Considerations in the Formulation of Monetary Policy
3) Measuring Core Inflation
We have a failed Canadian central bank policy of ZIRP and NIRP threats that ape the U.S. Fed policy as well mirroring many other central banks since the pit of gloom in March 2009. It’s been a race to the bottom, and here we are.
We have the outdated 20th Century wild west mortgage insurance liability of CMHC which was created in 1946 as an elaboration of previous housing incentives beginning in 1919 (Wikipedia).
We have an irresponsible overpriced exclusionary and predatory real estate industry that obfuscates, monopolizes and fails at basic fiduciary behaviour.
This combination of patchwork policy has failed to get capital investment into productive employment. Instead we have asset valuations that exceed the worst possible, measured globally, and we have settled for consumption and waste. Asset values may look good on a balance sheet in terms of credit worthiness, but the social contract does not serve our collective needs.
Nowhere is there public debate or care about tomorrow except in the tedium of blogs and anonymity. Governance has clearly failed and the media is busy chasing sirens and shootouts. It’s shameful. It’s time for reform and modernization using the tools we already have.
PART III - The Need for Land Entitlement Reform
“The social state is advantageous only when all have something and none too much.” A paraphrase of Jean-Jacques Rousseau from his Du Contrat Social ou Principes du Droit Politique of 1762.
The APT does not solve the problem of the current historic asset valuations in Canadian housing prices which are at crisis proportions and which cannot now be easily solved with ZIRP, NIRP or a revolving door of political ambitions.
Let’s consider the end to private fee simple land ownership and move all our land and territorial limits into the hands of all of us.
Here’s how I see it:
- All land and territorial space inside the jurisdiction of Canada (the Land) would be owned by the Canadian Government (the State) on behalf of Canadian taxpayers (the Tenants).
- The land would be leased to the tenants.
- The state would set the value of the land lease and term according to use.
- Only the improvements allowed on the land are owned by the tenant or transferable to another tenant in an open and free market place.
This simple idea would put an end to the endless inflation of the cost of land since the value of the land would be set by the central organizing body of the state which would assess the needs of the community of tenants and the responsibilities of all of us towards the wellbeing of our health and environment.
The improvements on the land would by definition be valued by their utility and composition of materials all of which are readily assigned value by an open marketplace and would be more prone to deflation than inflation because improvements have to be maintained to retain value.
Valuations would be rational, transparent and immediate. Affordability would be easily controlled. Tenancy agreements on the land would be available to both domestic and foreign users and when combined with the ‘Automated Payment Transaction Tax’ outlined in PART I above, all land lease revenue and all improvement transactions would trigger APT revenue to the state for reinvestment.
How economic inequality harms societies - Richard Wilkinson
"If you want to live the American dream, go to Denmark.”
We humans have accomplished a lot of ambitious and technically challenging projects and have expanded our knowledge base to a degree that suggests we should be able to transform our puny little financial problems in a politically impartial way free of ideology to the benefit of the greater good.
I don’t expect that this post will trigger any change during my remaining lifetime to the status quo of 20th century and older ideas that we remain wedded to, but I publish this because ideas precede action and I am not the only one thinking about this.
According to this December 2015 study by Azoulay, Fons-Rosen & Zivin “Does Science Advance One Funeral at a Time?”, Max Planck’s observation is indeed the way our knowledge base and idea implementation grows.
“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."
Real Time with Bill Maher
Michael Moore – Where to Invade Next
Chronically low interest rates since the Pit of Gloom in March 2009 have fueled a huge credit bubble in Canada. StatsCan as far as I can tell does not highlight luxury sales, but the Bank of America credit card division does as the chart shows. I have added to the mashup a sales chart of detached housing in West Vancouver, one of Canada's most expensive postal codes for real estate. Is the FEAR OF MISSING OUT shifting to the FEAR OF GETTING IN for hopeful West Van buyers?
Asian buyers won 28% of Christie’s offerings world-wide. but a big reason for the drop in the list of sales below was the disappearance of the heretofore relentless Chinese bid. (Year/Year Data)
Art Sales down 33%
Auction Sales down 37.5%
Private Broker Art sales down 10%
Contemporary Art sales down 45%
U.S. Art Sales down 50%
Europe Art Sales down 12%
Hong Kong Art Sales down 11%
Rival Sotheby's Art Sales down 22.6%
Tefaf Art Market Report: Global Art Sales down 7%
Asian Art Sales down 33%
Christie’s said only 29 artworks it sold during the first half achieved prices exceeding $6.5 million—compared with 47 the year before—with nothing selling for anywhere close to the $180 million that Pablo Picasso’s “Women of Algiers (Version O)” brought in 2015."
- JUL 2016 The late Alan Bond’s Perth mansion sells as the price of Australia’s most luxurious homes plunge
- JUL 2016 The Hamptons Housing Market Has Crashed: Luxury Home Sales Drop By Half As Prices Plunge
- JUL 2016 Dramatic Luxury Sales Drop, Fresh Data Shows
- JUN 2016 Luxury L.A. Home Prices Down First Quarter 2016 As Global Volatility Dampens Buyer Demand
- JUN 2016 Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus reports decline in both sales and profit
- MAY 2016 Hong Kong’s retail sales drop hardest in 17 years
- MAY 2016 Luxury condo boom in Lower Manhattan turns to glut, prices sag.
- MAY 2016 Luxury-Home Sales Fall in London, NYC With Rich Shifting Focus
- MAY 2016 Across the world, luxury-home sales get a reality check
- MAY 2016 The Premium Plunge: Sales of the Most Popular Luxury Cars in America Are Nosediving
- MAY 2016 At China’s Biggest Yacht Show, the Party Feel Fizzles
- MAY 2016 Business-Jet Sales Sink Most Since 2011
- MAY 2016 Luxury jeweller Tiffany posts steepest sales drop since financial crisis
- MAR 2016 Luxury watchmakers gloomy about 2016 sales
Are You Ready For a Canadian Real Estate Crash?
Patrick Ceresna Chief Derivative Market Strategist
LearnToTradeGlobal.com (1 hr. 4:35 min)
Bullet Points from the Video Above
- Currency affects commodities, the bond markets and real estate.
- Price discovery is a function of liquidity not fundamentals which are a long term attribute.
- Prices are created by positive or negative feedback loops.
- Bubbles deflate to their fundamental base.
Tech 1995-2003 (up 100%, down 90%)
Silver 2001-2012 (up 100%, down 40%)
U.S. Homes 2001-2012 (up 100%, down 40%)
- A believable idea (potash 2007-08 "everyone has to eat")
- There is a surplus of funds and shortage of opportunity (low interest rate prompts a search for yield).
- The idea cannot be disproved.
- The idea shifts from the minority to the majority view.
- The overvaluation is justified as the new paradigm (it's different this time).
- A widespread fear of missing out ensues.
- Rampant financing schemes occur.
- A cult obsession (everyone has an interest).
- The bubble becomes unbelievably long.
- Objective people begin to believe the story.
- Prices drop and supply grows.
- Investors see risk.
- Credit dries up.
- Frauds are exposed.
- Governments intervene.
- An exponential rise in price occurs as the cycle ends.
- A trigger is needed to reverse the positive feedback loop (China).
- Prices drop, rates rise and commodities are weak.
- The U.S. housing crash was triggered by the ARM (adjustable rate mortgage) reset.
- This time the events will be international triggered by China and its USD$4 trillion in foreign currency reserves.
- Chinese commercial banks increased credit from USD$4T to USD$34T in 10 years increasing the bank debt to 3 times GDP with an estimated USD$1T in non performing loans. (In the U.S. housing crash, their banks had created USD$16T in bank debt which was only 1 times GDP with non performing loans at less than 1/2 trillion USD$.
- China's 4 big banks are bigger than the 6 largest global banks.
- A massive credit orgy has been created and easy credit misallocated into unproductive end results (ghost cities etc).
- The IMF warns that China's credit risk is systemic.
- The commodity sector is in a bear market.
- There is a currency war going on.
- Slow growth is deflationary (see my debt chart).
- China will not have a new credit cycle (The PBOC warns of an "L" shaped landing).
- China's Yuan is pegged to the USD forcing them to buy and sell USD and the PBOC wants to un-peg.
- The USD rally has the Yuan up 45% against the CAD and there has been a USD$1 trillon of capital outflow from China chasing Canadian and other weak FX country's real estate.
- Un-anchored buyers from China etal have bid the real estate market up and out of equilibrium.
- The China window is closing, they are stopping their capital outflow with restrictions against funding loopholes (Hong Kong, Macau, Bitcoin etal)
- The Chinese Government will implement their Yuan devaluation.
- it will be a huge macro event as the Chinese bubble deteriorates.
- The PBOC will bail out their banks.
- The Yuan/CAD will plummet.
- The positive feedback loop in Canadian real estate will turn to a negative feedback loop.
- More sellers will emerge as credit tightens.
- Real estate prices will drop to fundamentals regressing to 2010-11 levels.
- USD rallies but Yuan does not devalue igniting a second wave of capital outflow.
June 9, 2016: Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz cautioned that climbing real estate prices have outpaced local economic fundamentals like job creation, immigration and income growth.
June 13, 2016: Financial markets are worried about China because its debt has surged to a record 237% of gross domestic product.
Here's Why China's Economy Will Be So Hard to Fix
"The real problem has been... that in a Bubble,
everyone gets in trouble
at the same time"
Bob Hoye, June 16, 2016
History, Charts & Curated Readings
Balance Of Trade
Rent Or Buy