Earlier this year in an effort to underline the end of the secular credit surge, I posted MAXED OUT in April and LATE STAGE DELEVERAGING in June. The insistence of the Bank of Canada to join in the decade long global experiment of ZIRP and NIRP has not ignited CPI much beyond their target mandate of 2% per year (spread chart). But it has forced tax payers to move away from the diligence of savings, investment and productiveness to the chasing of yields, to the consumption of depreciating assets and to the blowing up of the biggest bubble in major asset classes in both the equity and debt sectors, the fall out of which is also identified on my Household Debt Chart that includes a plot of Federal Direct Investment data which shows the dramatic and widening divergence between investment into and out of Canada taking place in the last 3 years but has also been trending towards this conclusion each year for the last 20 years.
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...
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 market continues to see moderate price acceleration and overvaluation due to low supply, despite record level construction.”
Eric Bond, Principal Market Analyst (Vancouver) CMHC, July 26, 2017 News Release Here
According to the data collected from real estate boards and CMHC to create the charts in this site, here are the price increases over the last 10 years of Single Family Detached houses to June 2017:
The "peaks" in "moderation" over 10 years of Single Family Detached house prices were:
- Vancouver 183% at JAN 2012
- Calgary 135% at SEP 2014
- Toronto 167% at MAR 2017
CMHC and the Bank of Canada as federal government agents along with provincial, municipal and the banking and finance industry agents have wrecked the Canadian housing market by permitting the wholesale flipping of properties and the entrance of off-shore speculators into the Canadian housing supply stock.
- How Canada completely lost its mind over real estate, Macleans April 7, 2017
Paul Krugman - Patrimonial Capitalism
Thomas Piketty - Capital in the 21st Century
In 1986 Bill Vander Zalm promised to lower the price of beer (page 3, 2nd bullet point, The Ubyssey October 24, 1986). It never happened but Bill caught 50% of the popular vote in that election with his "Fresh Start" campaign against the NDP.
Thirty years later the average price of a detached house in Vancouver has risen more than tenfold while average earnings have only gone up 2.5 to 3 times and the government plan now is to stoke a consumption mania with zero interest and principal 2nd mortgage money for 5 years as well as beer in your barbershop. The next BC provincial election is in May 2017 and the credit tap is wide open. Place your bets.
Changes to B.C. liquor rules allow barbershops, salons and other retail outlets to serve alcohol.
January 23, 2017, is when barbershops, salons, spas, cooking schools, art galleries, bookstores and other B.C. businesses that do not have bars and restaurants on their premises can apply for a liquor-primary licence so that liquor can be served to customers in these non-traditional establishments. All sorts of businesses will be able to apply for a liquor-primary licence as long as they do not operate from a motor vehicle, or target minors. And this may be of great interest to many small retail businesses that would like to provide, as a courtesy, a glass of wine, champagne or other alcoholic beverage to their customers without fear of breaking the law. Globe and Mail November 19, 2016
This "1st-time" homebuyers grant only serves the 'privileged,' says Nathanael Lauster UBC Associate Professor in Sociology
Inside 'House of Debt' with Amir Sufi
Canadian household debt levels continue to peak.
The Premier of BC Christy Clark is in the news again with her pre-election enticement of no interest loans for 60 months of up to $37,500 to wannabe buyers who need a bigger cash down payment to qualify for a mortgage to purchase real estate in BC's absurd housing market that has been on ice since the summer. BNN Dec 16, 2016
The chart mashup above was prompted by an observation from a reader (S.B.) that the technical structure of the Vancouver housing market is now within momentum levels for a trend change to the downside as soon as the next retest and failure of the recent highs completes; the setup being the "anti-trade". S.B. made earlier observations here "3 Vancouver Views" Sept 2016 and "Simple as ABCD" May 2016; thanks SB.
The evidence of serious downward repricing has this provincial government attempting to goose the demand side of the market with free ZIRP money provided by you and me dear tax payer. Not only will we tax payers supply the down payments to people who don't qualify under the already sub prime CHMC lending standards, but we are additionally collectively subsidizing the banking and mortgage industry that has little or no lending risk and we are continuing to feed the provincial government tax collector via the property transfer tax. "In total the property transfer tax brought in $1.53 billion for the government, $605 million more than budgeted" said BC Finance Minister Mike de Jong CBC NEWS July 2016.
Ontario and Toronto are also implelled to goose the fence sitters into buying into the market:
Ontario land transfer tax rebate doubled to $4K for first-time homebuyers. City News November 2016.
Ontario’s land transfer tax rises from 0.5 per cent on the first $55,000 of a purchase price to two per cent for everything above $400,000. Toronto’s land transfer tax is one per cent on the first $55,000 and two per cent on the rest. Toronto offers rebates of up to $3,725 for first-time homebuyers.
Sousa also announced a freeze in the property tax on apartment buildings while the government reviews how the tax burden affects rental market affordability. (Will landlords pass this along to tenants?)
Political ideology at all levels of government since the post war "invention" of CMHC has destroyed any possibility of a social contract that includes affordable housing as a basic right of tax payers. It appears to me that governments at all levels in Canada will continue to promote and urge Canadians to add even more household debt to their balance sheets that are already at historic levels nationally and globally. Although the Federal Government appears on the surface to be more rational than the provincial governments by warning Canadians who already have high levels of debt, they are not concerned with Canadian Banks who continue to be sheltered by tax revenue from the private sector. What they are concerned with is a RECESSION and THEIR OWN FEDERAL CASH FLOW. Is it irony or finger wagging and buck passing? The government is hooked on the commodification of real estate; it's a cash cow with a golden udder of debt that we are all attached to.
Here is the Federal Government at work:
CHMC Promotions Oct 2016 by the Globe and Mail
- 1992 Allow RRSP withdrawals for home purchase.
- 1999 Allow purchase with only 5% down payment.
- 2003 Remove house price ceiling on insured mortgages.
- 2003 "Green" mortgage insurance premium reduction and environmental incentives.
- 2005 Self Employed can self declare a 15% gross up of income and access all mortgage insurance products.
- 2005 Amortization increased to 30 years on insured mortgages.
- 2006 Amortization increased to 35 and 40 years on insured mortgages.
Warning from the Bank of Canada:
Risk of household financial stress and a sharp correction in house prices.
Some notes from the Satyajit Das videos below:
- Real growth was produced from the Industrial Revolution.
- But since the 1980's, growth has been fuelled by debt.
- An asset's income should pay for its debt.
- In the 1950's $1 to $2 of debt paid for $1 of GDP.
- By 2007-2008, $4 to $5 of debt paid for $1 of GDP.
- China in 2016 needs $6 to $8 of debt to pay for $1 of GDP.
- In the 20th century, population doubled and was an organic driver of growth. Now population does not drive growth.
- Innovation contributes to growth but productivity is falling.
- Now we have a service economy not a productive one.
- Innovation rates are falling dues to lack of R&D funding.
- We cannot repay debt without growth.
Property is an illusion by Satyajit Das
The End of growth as we know it by Satyajit Das - Key themes of his new book "A Banquet of Consequences"
The Economist ranks Canada's housing as the second most overvalued in relation to both rents and income. This is not news to the readers of these pages who have seen the various Demographia posts and have lived through the faux appraisals untethered from fundamentals.
Our only remaining question is why do high net worth individuals expose themselves to such great risk by continuing to swap cash for negative returns?
We know why the retail buyer has bought the farm; the government has been subsidizing credit to anyone via CMHC. Ironically that's us taxpayers; we have been blowing up the balloon. Cheap credit has masked the outrageous principal amount before interest that glib marketers tout as affordable. The granite and stainless steel may be fashionable at the moment, but at these prices when you look back from the future, you are buying a hovel.
My case study demonstrates the futility of Vancouver as a port in the storm and now that we have "real" yields breaking out, mortgage lenders are getting ahead of the curve by raising rates to mitigate term risk and not waiting around for the Bank of Canada who is still betting on shorting cash via ZIRP.
The Globe and Mail reported August 12, 2013 that "Three-quarters of all Canadian mortgages are insured by the federal government, up from only 30 per cent in 1988." ... "Ottawa guarantees a total of $900-billion worth of mortgage insurance." ... "It has been a no-brainer for the banks." Lenders have used up nearly 80% of this year’s available government guarantee by July 31, 2013.
In the Globe & Mail article, the author Barrie McKenna points out:
- 1990s, CMHC minimum down payment went from 10% to 5%
- 2006, CMHC introduced 0% down-payment and it extended mortgage insurance to cottages and second homes.
- Early 2000s, the creation of government-backed mortgage bonds and CMHC removes the $250,000 cap on the size of mortgage it would insure. (Ottawa would eventually reimpose a cap of $1-million).
- 2005 government lengthened maximum amortization period from 25 years to 30 years
- 2006 amortization period lengthened to 40 years (it has since been set back to 25 years).
- The final incentive to expand the availability of mortgage credit was the insured mortgage purchase program, which enabled banks to sell their government-backed mortgage bonds back to CMHC at a profit.
No Risk means No Due Diligence eh Canada?
Corporate bond manager Canso Investment Counsel Ltd. of Richmond Hill, Ontario estimates:
"...that the combined impact of successive federal programs may have added as much as 50 per cent to house prices in key markets, such as Toronto. Canso estimates that the “affordable” price of an average two-storey home in upscale North Toronto is $615,000 – well shy of the actual price of $900,000."
In Canso's June Newsletter is a chart showing the comparison of housing as a percentage of GDP between Canada and the USA. Canada is overdependent on residential investment. So was Spain.
"I have certainly been wrong about when Canada's housing bubble would burst for good.
However, burst it will and when it does the pain will be no less than what has happened in the US."
"The largest sub-prime lender in the world is now the Canadian government." by Murray Dobbin October 22, 2009
"CMHC primary deliverables is mortgage insurance and mortgage backed securities." by Jonathan Tonge July 20, 2009 Think Fannie and Freddie.
History, Charts & Curated Readings
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Rent Or Buy