This post includes Canadian GDP charts, Stephen Poloz's farewell remarks and Paul Schmelzing's introduction to his 110 page thesis that "By the late 2020s, global short term real rates will have reached permanently negative territory and by the second half of this century, global long-term real rates will have followed."
CR: So pandemics are not new. But the policy response to pandemics that we’re seeing is definitely new. If you look at the year 1918, when deaths in the US during the Spanish influenza pandemic peaked at 675,000, real GDP that year grew 9%. So the dominant economic model at the time was war production. You really can’t use that experience as any template for this. That’s one difference.
Canada GDP % Growth Annualized
The Canadian economy advanced an annualized 0.3 percent on quarter in the three months to December 2019, below a downwardly revised 1.1 percent expansion in the previous period and matching market forecasts. It was the weakest growth rate since the second quarter of 2016, when the economy shrank 2 percent. (BEFORE THE FIRST COVID 19 CASE HIT)
In his final official speech May 25, 2020, the Governor of the Bank of Canada Stephen Poloz said:
Market rates rose in Canada to follow suit with U.S. Fed Chairman Volker's policy of raising rates to shut down price and wage inflation of the mid 1970's, the fuse of which was sparked by the 1973 OPEC embargo oil price increase shock. In 1981 Canada, a 5 year fixed rate mortgage was being offered at 18+%.
"Eight centuries of global real interest rates, R-G [real wealth returns (R) and broader real growth (G)], and the ‘suprasecular’ decline, 1311–2018" Source Material
The Suprasecular Rate Decline
"By the late 2020s, global short term real rates will have reached permanently negative territory. By the second half of this century, global long-term real rates will have followed."
said Paul Schmelzing, JAN 2020, Bank of England Staff Working Paper No. 845
The Conclusion, in full:
Schmelzing on Bonds, Why Investors Face Years of Losses
"Last year (2019), nine Narwhal companies raised rounds exceeding $131 million CAD ($100 million USD). Over the last three years, the financial velocity required to make the list and the average financial velocity of companies on the list has increased, meaning companies are moving faster in securing capital. The number of Narwhals on track to become ‘Unicorns’ has also grown from seven to 42." Charles Plant, the founder of the Narwhal Project, FEB 4, 2020.
Three years ago, we at the Impact Centre initiated the Narwhal Project to conduct research to discover the root causes of Canada’s challenges in creating a world-leading innovation economy. We thought it would be useful at this juncture to summarize our findings. This Report highlights some of the issues we have identified.
For fifty years, the federal and provincial governments have been spending billions to improve our innovation economy, but without performance improvements. The usual discussion is centered on Canadian businesses and their lacklustre performance on research and development (R&D) and intellectual property (IP) protection. In addition, our productivity has lagged relative to the US because of insufficient investments into productivity-enhancing technologies, along with the lack of available capital and talented people to grow technology firms.
But we believe that a critical challenge is our inability to scale companies to a world-class size. Larger companies boast several advantages. They have greater revenue per employee, pay better salaries, undertake more R&D, and take out more patents.
We lack large companies, particularly in the technology sector. We have only one Unicorn (with perhaps another one qualifying but not listed as such at the date of this publication) compared with over 150 in the US. Few tech companies in Canada grow large enough to go public. This means less R&D, fewer patents, and, ultimately, lower income per capita and productivity.
Perhaps the solution to our innovation challenge is not more R&D and more patents, but rather scaling and building of companies. But why are we challenged do this in the tech field? What we have found is that:
• Few Canadian companies are founded in large consumer markets capable of generating the desired scale.
• We invest less per company relative to the US.
• Canadian firms spend less on marketing and sales (M&S), activities that are critical to building the customer base.
• We have fewer qualified people in marketing functions.
The underinvestment and underspending result in lower growth rates for Canadian tech firms compared to their US counterparts. Fundamentally then, Canadian firms do not look as attractive as potential investments due to slower growth. Because of this, they do not attract large amounts of late-stage capital and are often sold before they can scale to worldclass size.
All of these factors converge to create serious barriers to growth of Canadian companies, thus necessitating smarter and more strategic thinking about how we will overcome these challenges.
Full Report Here
1) The widening spread between total household debt and household mortgages means we are borrowing even more to maintain lifestyle.
2) Foreign Direct Investment OUT higher than IN over the last 20 years means Canadian companies are investing outside of Canada to get a better return on Capital and Labour. For every $1 of investment coming in to Canada, $1.47 leaves (full year 2018 data).
3) The chronic negative Canadian Balance of Trade means that OUR debt obligations continue to provide more stimulus to offshore than onshore producers.
Top 3 Technology Trends for 2020 | YBF Ventures
Top 3 Technology Trends for 2020 by Startupbootcamp co-founder Ruud Hendriks. Ruud was speaking on the People Building Businesses podcast. JAN 22, 2020
"Chinese Yuan makes up a lower portion of global reserves than the British Pound and even the Swiss Franc, and is just ahead of Canada." Hat Tip to @anilvohra69 for the note and graphic in my Twitter feed.
US dollar credit to non-bank borrowers outside the United States grew by 4% year on year to reach $11.9 trillion at end-June 2019. This represents a slight acceleration relative to the 3% annual growth rate observed at end-2018. Bank of International Settlements October 2019
Foreign borrowers of USD denominated debt is accelerating. What gets borrowed in USD has to be repaid in USD and as the USD rises in value, so does the demand for USD.
I update my USD vs CAD Canadian Housing Price chart as well as my Canadian Household Debt chart every month. Our chronic negative Canadian Balance of Trade means that OUR debt obligations continue to provide more stimulus to offshore than onshore producers. A rising USD is not good for most Canadians.
INVESTOPEDIA KEY TAKEAWAYS, July 2019
> A dollar shortage occurs when a country spends more U.S. dollars on imports than it receives on exports.
> Since the USD is used to price many goods globally, and is used in many international trade transactions, a dollar shortage can limit a country's ability to grow or trade effectively.
> Most countries try to maintain a reserve of currencies, like U.S. dollars or other major currencies, which can be used to buy imported goods, manage the country's exchange rate, pay international debts, or make international transactions or investments.
Pierre Trudeau’s Washington Press Club speech
“Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.” Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the March 1969 speech to the Washington Press Club.
“Commenting on the flash PMI data, Tim Moore, Economics Associate Director at IHS Markit said: “August’s survey data provides a clear signal that (U.S.) economic growth has continued to soften in the third quarter. The PMIs for manufacturing and services remain much weaker than at the beginning of 2019 and collectively point to annualized GDP growth of around 1.5%. “The most concerning aspect of the latest data is a slowdown in new business growth to its weakest in a decade, driven by a sharp loss of momentum across the service sector. Survey respondents commented on a headwind from subdued corporate spending as softer growth expectations at home and internationally encouraged tighter budget setting. “Manufacturing companies continued to feel the impact of slowing global economic conditions, with new export sales falling at the fastest pace since August 2009. “Business expectations for the year ahead became more gloomy in August and remain the lowest since comparable data were first available in 2012. The continued slide in corporate growth projections suggests that firms may exert greater caution in relation to spending, investment and staff hiring during the coming months.” Tim Moore
Meanwhile Canadian Net Trade has been negative
in the last 10 out of 11 quarterly prints (July 2019 data)
While we wait for the July Canadian housing data to trickle out, let's return to Japan and their housing price experience after nearly 20 years of ZIRP and NIRP.
I have posted charts about Japan since 2012 to illustrate the folly of global central banks and their monetary policies of instituting ZIRP & NIRP to stimulate inflation > consumption > production, the by-product of which, has been the manic search for yields as the underlying asset class values became stretched to perfection under pressure from the FOMO crowd.
Instead of using fiscal policy which requires long term planning and socially cohesive agreements directed towards production and well being, the quarterly knob twiddling monetary policy has in part, along with the rise of a digitized global financial network, unleashed "megabyte" money laundering which the UNODC estimates at 2-5% of global GDP per year.
It has also crushed the incentive to save for a future funding of investment into productive assets.
The Household Saving Rate in Canada has decreased to 1.1% in the first quarter of 2019.
Commodity Super Cycle - 10 Years into the Bear
Here is a chart I published in a 2012 post "What Do You Do During a Housing Bust".
The answer is "save".
If the CRB chart above has correctly identified a cyclical swing between bull and bear commodity production, then we should expect another "lost decade" of balance sheet repair especially in the over-speculated and now depreciating housing asset markets of Canada.
A Housing Bubble "doesn't just warp the real estate market, the knock-on effects can throw a region's entire economy into disarray."
Bloomberg via Visual Capitalist
House Price to Rent Ratio ... Canada Ranks 2nd
House Price to Income Ratio ... Canada Ranks 2nd
Real House Prices ... Canada Ranks 3rd
Household Debt to GDP ... Canada Ranks 5th
Full CMHC 33 page 3Q 2019 PDF Report Here.
CMHC launched a new report earlier this week that will focus on mortgage market trends in Canada on a quarterly basis. This first report entitled "Mortgage Market Slowing & Share of Uninsured Mortgages Increasing" indeed highlights 2 major trends in place:
#1 above suggests that housing unaffordability continues to grow as fewer potential buyers can qualify for a high ratio debt to equity insured mortgage.
#2 suggests that reducing mortgage rates by 75% over the last thirty-plus years has led to debt revulsion as identified in my Household Debt chart which shows a peak and flattening since the hot market price peaks of 2017
These trends have taken 10, 20, 30 and 40 years for the credit cycle to fully manifest and now the effects of unproductive capital have emerged with a nascent transition to the early stage of a new credit cycle where companies and households will try to deleverage by reducing the amount of debt they hold while risk appetite is low and the cost of risk taking is high.
...History has shown that it takes a “long, long” time to restore household balance sheets, a situation that will be all that more difficult with trade and business spending hampered...
David Tulk, International Portfolio Manager for Fidelity Investment Canada, March 2019
...The nation may already be in recession after growing at an annualized pace of just 0.4 per cent in the fourth quarter (2018) and a pretty “soggy” start to the year (2019)...
David Wolf, Asset Allocations for Fidelity Investment and Former adviser to the Bank of Canada
...Canada’s households are clearly more stretched in terms of debt and spending than their American counterparts... There’s just no latent capacity to spend or to buffer a shock in Canada... They just have less room for error, less room to cushion any kind of hit with spending, before they would actually fall into outright dissavings...
Eric Lascelles, chief economist at RBC Global Asset Management Inc
Source of Quotes above from Financial Post.com June 2019
One of the problems facing our "economy" is the rampant flow of hard to track global criminal capital moving into jurisdictions attractive to money laundering... in this case Canada. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund produces corruption ratings and by their measure British Columbia ranked fourth for money laundering among six regions in Canada. Manitoba and Saskatchewan combined were said to have more money laundering activity than B.C.
"B.C. Attorney General David Eby announced Justice Austin Cullen has agreed to lead what will be known as the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, which is expected to produce a report in May 2021." Powell River Peak, May 2019
Meanwhile the "Vancouver Model" continues to move east across Canada (see my NOV 2018 post DIRTY REAL ESTATE); "The C.D. Howe Institute study estimates of money laundering in Canada range from $5 billion to $100 billion. SEP 2018"
That money after it's cleaned flows into business elements and hard assets throughout the "economy". It's going to take a new generation of activists to replace the mob model we find ourselves in.
One thing that generation could do is to replace our taxation system with an iteration of the APT tax which is an automated micro tax on any financial transaction. The authors of the APT tax model demonstrate 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 (APT) 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... Real time tax collection at source of payment applies to all types of transactions, thereby reducing administration and compliance costs as well as opportunities for tax evasion."
Additionally, the APT can be adjusted easily so that it is revenue neutral, ie: we could as a society set our fiscal priorities to accomplish our social contract goals with a tax burden of less than 2% of ALL financial transactions throughout a computerized banking and financial system. We would not have to debate where the money comes from... there is more than enough of that... but we would only be left with a debate of how to invest the money. See my complete APT post of NOV 2012
Let the new digital generation take this challenge on.
Meanwhile David Rosenberg May 2019
The investor class is heading towards liquidity
in the form of U.S. Treasuries and the USD
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) defines a household as being in
“core housing need” if it “falls below at least one of the adequacy, affordability or suitability standards and would have to spend 30% or more of its total before-tax income to pay the median rent of alternative local housing that is acceptable (meets all three housing standards).” thecanadianencyclopedia.ca
The chart above shows the number of homeless people living in Vancouver based on homeless counts conducted between 2005 and 2019. City of Vancouver Data via Global News
The homelessness data in Canada according to Nathalie Rech, (thecanadianencyclopedia.ca) April 29, 2019 are...
"estimated that approximately 35,000 Canadians experience homelessness on any given night, and at least 235,000 Canadians are homeless in any given year." AND According to the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, mass homelessness in Canada emerged around this time (1987 Conservatives) as a result of government cutbacks to social housing and related programs starting in 1984 (Conservatives). In 1993 (Liberals), federal spending on the construction of new social housing came to an end. In 1996 (Liberals) the federal government transferred responsibility for most existing federal low-income social housing to the provinces.
The chart below is from George Marshall, a research analyst with Statistics Canada’s Insights on Canadian Society published June 26, 2019. Their conclusion follows the chart.
Conclusion from Statistics Canada’s Insights on Canadian Society.
Using data from the 2016 SFS, this study looked at the association between the debt-to-asset and debt-to-income ratios and financial distress, while controlling for various socioeconomic characteristics. Three financial distress indicators were considered—missing non-mortgage payments, missing mortgage payments and taking out a payday loan.
The varied results call for a nuanced interpretation. The first point to note is that the debt-to-asset ratio tells a more consistent story than the debt-to-income ratio. Across all three distress indicators, people in the highest debt-to-asset groups have a higher probability of reporting distress. However, after controlling for other factors, the debt-to-income ratio is not associated with the measures of financial distress since the results are not statistically significant.
The debt-to-asset ratio might be a more predictive indicator because debtors can often sell assets to make debt payments, even if they do not have the income to make payments. Alternatively, those who own homes often have access to home equity lines of credit. These results are important because they suggest that the debt-to-asset ratio is a better indicator of financial precariousness than the debt-to-income ratio.
Additionally, some demographic groups face relatively higher probabilities of reporting financial distress, including lone-parent families, and “other” family types. Conversely, families whose major income earner had a university degree, were less likely to be in financial distress. Similarly, homeowners with or without a mortgage were less likely to miss payments or take out payday loans.
Financial distress has many dimensions and can take multiple forms. Future measurement should provide additional details, such as the frequency at which specific financial services are used when under financial duress. More research will be needed to better comprehend the extent to which Canadians are facing financial difficulties.
As Cities Grow, So Do the Numbers of Homeless
If your capital is tied up in assets that are dropping in value, your lifestyle will come under the scrutiny of your bookkeeper, accountant and banker. And this reappraisal, if your net worth is shrinking, will lead to decisions focused on turning debt into equity. Sell the asset or accelerate the payments on debt principal; either way, your lifestyle will change. If for any reason your cash flow is trending towards negativity, the need to sell assets quickly becomes the first choice. As we know, Canadians are all in on the debt side of their balance sheets with household obligations at record debt to asset levels.
- ITEM JUN 2019 Bloomberg: Delinquency rates rise in Canada as consumers add more debt: Equifax
- ITEM MAY 2019 CBC News: High household debt, possible housing market shocks are main risks to the economy: Bank of Canada
- ITEM APR 2019 Better Dwelling: Canadian Household Debt Is Growing Much Faster Than Asset Values
- ITEM MAR 2019 The Insurance Journal: Many Canadians say they will liquidate assets to pay down debt in 2019
Prominent Canadian economist David Rosenberg is warning that record household debt levels in the country will hinder economic growth...
(ie: your income, your cash flow, your ability to service your debt)
‘Maxed out’: 48% of Canadians on brink of insolvency, survey says.
That's what the recent survey via BNNbloomberg.ca conducted by Ipsos for insolvency firm MNP Ltd. says.
48% - of Canadians are $200 or less away from financial insolvency every month.
35% - say an interest rate increase would move them towards bankruptcy.
54% - worry about their ability to repay debts.
40% - said they won’t be able to cover all living and family expenses in the next 12 months without taking on more debt.
55% - say they are $200 or less away from the financial brink in Atlantic Canada.
51% - say the same thing in Quebec.
48% - say the same thing in Ontario.
The poll is conducted quarterly for MNP and surveyed 2,070 Canadians online from March 13-24... phew.
Fortunately for the rest of us, this is a small sample relative to our more than 35 million residents... but according to sciencebuddies.org a survey of 2000 random people will produce a margin of error of only 2.2%. Oh oh.
If this poll is a reflection of Canadian's ability to continue borrowing to fund lifestyle as they have for the past decade of accelerated leverage, then next up will be a slowdown in consumption which is Canada's major GDP input. The April 2019 IMF table of Global Economy projections is below; Canada's economy is indeed facing a challenge.
But this is not new news because since the July 2008 commodity peak, the Canadian Balance of Trade has been negative for 77% of the time (monthly prints). Also the Federal Direct Investment metrics have been negative for the last 20 years and the spread has widened in the last 3.
...and the Yield Curve
The flattening of the yield curve is a signal from the bond market that it is worried about the economy and its ability to continue to grow. In addition, it is a signal that future inflation is nowhere to be seen. One outcome of an inverted yield curve is a weakening in bank lending as banks begin to earn less profits from making loans. In the most recent earnings announcements, the banks have already made this clear as they expect net interest margins to contract. This is because a bank’s role is to borrow funds at usually lower short-term rates and lend those funds at usually higher longer-term interest rates. The spread between these two rates represents the banks’ profits.
However, with an inverted yield curve, the spread between the short-term and long-term rates narrows and the banks’ incentives to lend are greatly reduced. Not only is the profit margin eroded by the yield curve, but the banks could become worried about the possibility of an economic slowdown. As banks become less incentivized to extend credit (make loans) to their customers, it results in a vital lifeline of the economy being choked off. PacificaPartners.ca
High household debt levels reduce consumption abilities which puts downward pressure on employment which is already facing the digital transformation of supplying goods and services. Lender and borrower risk leads to debt revulsion by both sides of the equation.
Credit booms are followed by credit busts and as the chart shows, Canadian Residential Mortgage Credit (%Y/Y lending) has been shrinking dramatically since the July 2008 Crude Oil Peak and the Crash into the March 2009 Pit of Gloom (6 Metros Chart).
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
Canadian Banks on "Credit Doomsday Watch" CIBC
The CIBC analysts said that Canadian banks appear to be headed for their weakest credit cycle since the oil price collapse, which caused related loan losses to jump in 2016. While their prediction is “not a coming apocalypse,” the report said the banks’ loan losses last quarter had a “one-off feel to them” that could become more frequent. “For reference, the actual doomsday clock sits at two minutes to midnight,” the analysts said.
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
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