There is a phase in the debt cycle when revulsion sets in.
At the end of the business cycle there are three forces at work:
The chattering class continues to opine about whether rates will rise or continue to be stomped on by central banks. Meanwhile the yield curve is telling us that the monied class is rejecting long term debt amortization in favour of short term rates where the cost of borrowed capital is the cheapest. Long term planning is at risk.
Looking at Federal Direct Investment in Canada, future returns are moot if there is a continuation of the last 20 years of foreign direct investment in Canada that has remained negative relative to Canadians making direct investment offshore to get a better return on capital and labour. Global over capacity means that our export markets for goods and services are price marked to global markets.
With respect to the third point above and concentrating on the wrecked affordability of housing in Canada, the FOMO herd is facing waning sales and waxing inventory and the current low cost of borrowing is no longer a stimulus to enter into risk positions. And this is playing out now in Canada's poster province ground zero metro and Demographia's international runner up: Vancouver.
Ray Dalio's Economic Machine
It's been 10 years since the 2008-09 crash which is difficult to even remember now after 10 years of watching our housing prices more than double. But as Hilliard Macbeth points out in the chart above, when residential mortgage lending momentum approaches and dips into a negative metric, housing prices tumble and recession metrics begin to appear. In the two biggest FOMO markets, Vancouver and Toronto, prices indeed have been dropping in the 7-9% per year range after peaking 18-20 months ago respectively (Plunge-O-Meter).
As Hilliard further points out:
"There hasn’t been a serious economic downturn in Canada since the 1990s; the last time that mortgage credit grew as slowly as now. Unfortunately bank lending is pro-cyclical, so lenders will tighten credit conditions just as real estate borrowing stops growing, which will make the downturn worse. This boom/bust cycle is inevitable as long as lenders focus on lending for real estate investment and speculation rather than more productive investments. To change that focus, a new set of rules and regulations that govern lending is needed.” Quote included in Jason Kirby and MACLEAN's Most Important Charts to Watch in 2019
Well it could easily be one o'clock in the morning as weak hands cut their losses. Hat Tip to @Hutchyman
It's important to remember that our housing and credit boom is part of the global credit boom and it's fading. Hat Tip to @TaviCosta
While we wait for the February real estate data to come in, here is the latest UBS update to their real estate bubble index.
Not many surprises; we have been seeing these cities appear on the most expensive lists for sometime now.
My Demographia file has been tracking these cities since 2005.
Vancouver, whose house prices accelerated to a double-digit rate relative to last year, has a ballooning index score. Higher stamp duties for foreign investors proved futile in braking its boom. By contrast, Toronto’s price dynamics have slowed considerably and its index score declined somewhat from last year’s. In both cities, valuations have trended upward since the late 1990s. Neither the financial crisis nor weakening commodity prices has dragged them down. But rising rates, stricter market regulations or an economic downturn could turn the lights out on the party given the high valuations and strained affordability.
2018 UBS Global Real Estate Bubble Index PDF
As the U.S. Energy Information Admin EIA.gov noted in their December 12, 2018 report:
"...concerns about the pace of global economic growth in coming months have led to related concerns about the pace of oil demand growth."
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:
Why The Stock Market Is Heading For Disaster
In this presentation, Clarity Financial's economic analyst Jesse Colombo explains why the U.S. stock market is experiencing a dangerous bubble that is going to burst violently and cause serious damage to the underlying economy. Published on Oct 11, 2018
- S&P 500 since 1997
- Percent equity gains since 2009
- Interest rates since 1997
- Real Fed Funds rate since 1990
- U.S. corp debt since 1980
- U.S. corp debt as a percent of GDP since 1980
- Buybacks and dividends paid vs S&P 500 value since 2000
- S&P 500 vs NYSE margin debt as percent of GDP since 1997
- Retail investor allocation to stocks vs cash since 1997
- CBOE volatility index (VIX) since 1997
- St Louis financial stress index since 1997
- BAML U.S. high yield spread since 1997
- Cyclically adjusted P/E ratio since 1980
- U.S. stock market capitalization to GDP ratio since 1971
- Tobins Q ratio since 1902
- U.S. net corp profits as a percent of GNP since 1947
- FAANG stocks vs S&P 500 since 2009
- Fed Funds rate and recessions since 1997
- Financial banking crises and recessions since 1977
- 10-2 year treasuries spread since 1976
Trump Is Completely Misguided On Interest Rates
If the Fed or other central bank voluntarily abandons further credit expansion (most commonly by raising interest rates), the credit and asset bubble will experience a deflationary bust. Deflationary episodes entail credit busts, falling consumer prices, bear markets in stocks and housing prices, and falling wages. If the central bank decides to never put an end to the credit expansion (for example, if the Fed never raised rates), however, the result would be a runaway credit and asset bubble that leads to a severe decrease in the value of the currency and high rates of inflation. The latter scenario is what would occur if President Trump got his way – hardly a desirable outcome for the economy. To summarize, the Fed is crazy – they’re crazy for creating such a large bubble in the first place via loose monetary policy, but not for raising interest rates and normalizing their monetary policy. Jesse Colombo, Oct 17, 2018
Market Bear Hussman Says Stocks Could Lose $20 Trillion
To state the obvious, bull markets do not last forever, and inevitably are followed by bear markets. Likewise, economic expansions also must end at some point, followed by recessions, and recessions typically are accompanied by bear markets. John Hussman, Oct 15, 2018
There's trouble ahead in the global housing market
Source: Business Insider July 2018
Toronto: Prices clearly peaked in early 2017. Prices are now down 3% vs last year. (Toronto SF Detached are down 17% from the peak. See the Sept 30, 2018 Plunge-O-Meter)
Syndey: Compared to last year, prices are now down 5% and supply has ballooned 22%.
Stockholm & Vancouver: Over a recent 6-month period, prices in the luxury property market fell 9% and 7.6%, respectively.
New York City: In Q1 2018, prices were down 8% YoY and sales were down 25%. NYC's luxury properties fared even worse.
San Francisco: After hitting a record price high in January, the city has seen a rare spring decline in prices, while rents across the SF Bay Area are starting to "cool off"
Bond King Gundlach predicts yields
much higher before this move ends
"If you look at the charts and you look at the way the market's behaving and you think about the trends that are underneath the bond market, it wouldn't be surprising at all to see the 30-year [yield] go to 4 percent before this move of the breakout above 3.25 percent is over," he said on "Halftime Report" Thursday. CNBC, Oct 11, 2018
I have added in comparison on the chart, the rise in single family detached housing prices for Vancouver and Toronto as well as the increase in annual employment earnings all since 1999, the eve of the dot com tech crash.
The result is a six and a half fold increase in housing cost relative to employment earnings.
Some rental housing cost relief will occur with increases in minimum wages, but minimum wagers are not a source of buyers for detached houses in Canada's crazy towns.
If the real estate bulls are correct in their projection that house prices are not going to drop in any meaningful way because of dearth of land, string pulling by government or money laundering then society is going to have to deal with the prospect of guaranteed incomes to offset housing unaffordability and we will have to provide better access to services and housing closer to employment.
Lance argues in the chart above that the...
Intermediate-Term Picture Remains Bearish
On a intermediate-term basis, both of our weekly “sell signals” remain, and as shown below, the market once again failed at its overhead trend line last week as well as the downtrend resistance from the previous peaks. These failures keep downward pressure on the market as prices continue to follow the “path of least resistance.”
The weekly chart also shows the rare “buy” and “sell” signals issued on a longer-term basis. Currently, as the market struggles with its current correction process, it is also very close to triggering a more important “sell signal” which could indicate a further correctionary process over the next several months.
Over the last 25-years, these sell signals have only been triggered 5-other times.
1. At the peak of the market prior to the “Asian Contagion”
2. Just prior to the peak of the market in 2000
3. At the peak of the market in 2007
4. At the peak of the market 2011 as QE-2 ended and the U.S.was facing the “debt ceiling debate.”
5. Near the peak of the market from the collision of the end QE-3, the “taper tantrum” and “Brexit.”
But I did find this chart here of the S&P 500 vs the Case Shiller U.S. Housing Index:
It is clear that some sort of correlation exists between stock values and real estate values. Stocks started their recent bull run in 2009. As you can see from the chart above, real estate values didn’t start moving up steadily until 2012. So there is a lag here. But what is interesting is the correction in stock values in 2008 matched up with real estate values. In fact, real estate values started trending lower before the market crash. DoctorHousingBubble.com
In January 2018 the S&P 500, DOW and TSX peaked.
U.S. vs Canada Private Debt to GDP
Steve Keen "Can we avoid another financial crisis?"
As we wait for the first week of April to unfold and the March real estate data to come in, questions about the stock market's melt-up comes via @anilvohra69
Anil, a retired UBS rates options trader, quotes investment strategist Jeremy Grantham:
Bubbles have a blowoff phase lasting 21 months. Using a 5% threshold, the run from Feb 16 to Dec 17 was 22 months.
Hence the question "Have we seen the melt-up?" It certainly appears that way for Toronto Real Estate (as of February 2018 data) and the March data may add even more weight to the thesis.
If you are thinking of 'buying the dip' make sure your income is amortized over the length of your mortgage. In a melt down, the erosion of net worth will shift a lender's risk management exercise to more closely examine the strength and security of your net income.
As we know employment income growth is facing profound challenges.
Global Risks 2018
According to the IMF, over the past three decades 53% of countries have seen an increase in income inequality, with this trend particularly pronounced in advanced economies. Furthermore, today’s economic strains are likely to sow the seeds for longer-term problems. High levels of personal debt, coupled with inadequate savings and pension provisions, are one reason to expect that frustrations may deepen in the years ahead. We highlight four concerns: (1) persistent inequality and unfairness, (2) domestic and international political tensions, (3) environmental dangers and (4) cyber vulnerabilities. We conclude by reflecting on the increased dangers of systemic breakdown. World Economic Forum
Strongest 'Bubble Burst'' Alarm Just Went Off
Jeremy Grantham 2018
Libor’s spread over the overnight index swap rate, known as Libor-OIS, has widened... another sign that banks face steeper funding costs. Bloomberg March 12, 2018
As noted on the charts: "About $350 trillion of financial products and loans are linked to Libor, with a large chunk hinged to the dollar-based version of the benchmark." Bloomberg March 12, 2018, and...
Scarcity of Dollar funding means we should prepare for a rise in the $USD:$CAD pair. In terms of Canadian real estate I chart it in USD here. A strengthening USD means higher import costs for Canadian consumers at a time when interest rates are trending up.
Our Canadian national proclivity to fund our lifestyles via debt rather than income continues to produce a negative Net Trade and FDI, a flattening GDP and growing record household debt levels, charted here.
Why Consumer Debt is Canada's Greatest Economic Risk
"Consumption to Top Off" Bloomberg March 15, 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
History, Charts & Curated Readings
"Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement; and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana Vol. I, Reason in Common Sense
Balance Of Trade
Rent Or Buy