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
Bill Gross of Janus Capital commented on... his recent investors’ letter (emphasis added is ours Macro-Ops.com):
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:
1) Rising interest rates sap demand and raise the cost of capital.
2) At the same time, according to capital theory, future returns decline due to over capacity.
3) While demand is decreasing and there’s a glut of supply, the herding nature of market participants create euphoric sentiment that drives expectations (and market prices) well past likely outcomes.
This process is what forms a market top. Alex Barrow Co-Founder of Macro Ops
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.
The household debt service ratio, measured as total obligated payments of principal and interest on credit market debt as a proportion of household disposable income, edged up to 14.9% in the first quarter (2019), as total obligated debt payments grew at a faster pace than disposable income.
Ray Dalio's Economic Machine
‘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.
On march 11th 2019, David Larock an independent full-time mortgage broker laid out his "Case for Lower Canadian Mortgage Rates", below edited, but read the whole feature report at MoveSmartly.com
The Bank of Canada acknowledged that our current economic slowdown is now “more pronounced and widespread” than it had previously forecast.
Global economic momentum is slowing.
Our economic slowdown has been sharper than expected.
Housing and consumption have slowed, and business investment and exports haven’t picked up the slack as the BoC had hoped.
Inflation expectations have been lowered.
Uncertainty is increasing.
Our output gap is widening because debt is choking off growth, and that is a powerful, long-term headwind, which will continue to exert itself long after global trade networks have been re-established.
On this last item, my Household Debt chart is in agreement.
Tuomas Malinen @mtmalinen for the charts above.
Today, March 13th 2019, the live
Canadian Productivity Chart exhibits a slowdown.
Peak Consumption in Canada
appears to be at hand.
Feeble savings may also signal that
consumption-led growth has nearly reached it’s end, as
Canadians are spending by drawing down savings.
From Bloomberg via TheStar.com December 1, 2018
Hat Tip to TradingEconomics.com for the Charts
The low rate leaves Canadians more vulnerable to an economic shock, according to Brian DePratto at Toronto-Dominion Bank. “It’s concerning that households aren’t building up buffers and prepping for retirement like they used to,” the Toronto-based senior economist said by email. “The extent to which Canadians turn around their priorities when it comes to their financial situation could also mean less money for consumer spending.”
“It doesn’t bode well for consumption spending moving forward,” National Bank Financial’s Krishen Rangasamy
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:
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 embedded in the 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 (MarketWatch.com).
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
The public has been goosed into historically high leveraged balanced sheets that looked ok at the peak of Canadian housing prices in 2017 but now a year later, with interest rates and CPI rising (3% CPI at July 2018), and animal spirits fractured by Trump's war on our imports into the U.S., lenders are now purging out the marginal from the credit worthy. Our zeal for consumption is in the cooler.
Half of Canadian jobs will be impacted by automation in next 10 years
"...a growing demand for “human skills” will be more crucial across job sectors. In particular, critical thinking, coordination, social perceptiveness, active listening and complex problem solving — described in the report as “human skills” — were identified as being key characteristics Canadians should develop to prepare for changes to the workforce." Global News March 2018
What is the link between education and earnings?
Conference Board of Canada March 2013
"Canadians with a university degree earned $165 for every $100 earned by Canadian high school graduates. Those with a college degree earned $110 for every $100 earned by high school graduates, and those who did not graduate from high school earned only $80 for every $100 earned by high school graduates... The relatively lower financial returns on university education in Norway and Canada may be due to the dominance of their energy sectors, which offer relatively high-paying jobs that do not require university educations."
"Between 1998 and 2010...students skills deteriorated somewhat. The proportion of students with high-level reading, math, and science skills dropped, while the proportion of students with low-level reading and math skills increased."
"Canada needs to improve workplace skills training and lifelong education. Canada’s adult literacy skills are mediocre, with a large proportion of adults lacking the literacy skills necessary to function in the workplace. Canada gets a “C” and ranks 10th out of 15 peer countries on the indicator measuring adult participation in job-related non-formal education."
"Canada also underperforms in the highest levels of skills attainment. Canada produces relatively few graduates with PhDs and graduates in math, science, computer science and engineering. More graduates with advance qualifications in these fields would enhance innovation and productivity growth—and ultimately ensure a high and sustainable quality of life for all Canadians."
"Canada’s middle-of-the-pack ranking on university completion may reflect the fact that the financial return from investing in university education in Canada is also middle-of-the-pack at best. Many other countries (and the individuals in those countries) get much better returns on their tertiary investments."
"While not reflected in the report card due to lack of data and measurability challenges, there is a “learning recognition gap” in Canada. What this means is that people may hold knowledge and skills that are not formally recognized (through academic credits or trade/organization/professional certification) by employers or credential-granting institutions."
"An obvious example is immigrants whose foreign credentials are not recognized in Canada. The Alliance of Sector Councils stated that “every Canadian is affected by inefficient recognition. Canadians across the country are short of doctors and other health care workers, while thousands of highly educated newcomer health care workers are not allowed to provide the services that so many Canadians want. People with prior learning gained through work and training are similarly hindered by a lack of learning recognition, as are those who transfer between post-secondary institutions or, in the case of licensed occupations, between provinces."
Is Canada’s workforce sufficiently skilled?
Conference Board of Canada June 2014
No. Given that Canada is a leader on post-secondary educational attainment, one might reasonably expect that the country would also be a leader on adult skills. Yet Canada and most provinces do relatively poorly on adult literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills, earning mainly “C” and “D” grades.
What accounts for Canada’s poor performance on adult skills? One reason is that literacy and numeracy skills are not “fixed” forever—individuals can lose skills after they leave school, through lack of use.11 The longer someone has been out of the formal education system, the more impact other factors will have on their proficiency, such as their work and social environment. On average, the younger cohort, aged 16–24, have higher literacy scores than adults aged 45–65, and these results hold no matter what level of education the person has.12 In the absence of continuing education or workplace training, it appears likely that, on average, the skills of Canada’s workers diminish over time.
The country’s grades on adult skills, however, are weak and have deteriorated over the past decade. Canada’s other weaknesses are its low numbers of students graduating with PhDs and with degrees in science, math, computer science, and engineering.
China Might Beat The US in Artificial Intelligence
Eric Schmidt November 2017
"LET THEM IN"
"New lending activity and refinancing have contracted significantly since the beginning of 2018, a culmination of regulatory pressure, enhanced scrutiny following the banking royal commission, and the self-fulfilling consequence of slowing house prices driving an investor pullback... A rising cost of credit represents a blunter instrument for slowing lending, since it impacts both owner-occupiers and investors in parallel,"JP Morgan's Henry St John
that's not a quote about Canada;
but these are:
Canadian real estate sales are feeling the pinch of higher interest rates, and consumer credit isn’t far behind. Bank of Canada (BoC) numbers show household debt printed a new record high. Despite the record high, the rate of growth continues to slow for consumer debt levels. The decelerating growth is yet another indicator that the credit cycle has peaked. Better Dwelling, July 2018
Market Rate Outlook: One more hike this year plus two more hikes next year. The market is not fully pricing in the next BoC rate increase until December... Canadians are now more sensitive to higher rates than ever before. That means consumption is slowing faster with every 1/4% BoC rate increase. RateSpy.com Sept 2018
Canada's economy is set to slow down even with a NAFTA deal, economists say:
"Our research finds that even with a NAFTA deal in place, the long-desired rotation in growth towards exports and business investment will be sluggish and won't offset the coming slowdown in household spending and housing activity," Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets
Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, is also expecting growth next year to slow to 1.8 per cent, as reduced consumer spending and housing activity will weigh on growth.
RBC senior economist Nathan Janzen said the bank doesn't publish forecasts for 2020, but agrees that growth is shifting lower.
"We do expect a more modest pace of consumer spending going forward, and while housing activity should remain a contributor to growth, this sector as well should see more modest growth relative to the past," said Brian DePratto, senior economist at TD Bank.
Quote Sources: CBC News Sept, 2018
And as my long term chart study of Canadian Debt, GDP, Foreign Direct Investment and Balance of Trade shows, since the credit crash of 2009, Canadian's awesome consumption via debt has not led to higher wage employment production in Canada but to lower wage warehousing and transportation of goods and services that we import to maintain our lifestyles.
"The one-million square foot Toronto centre will be Amazon’s sixth facility in Ontario and ninth in Canada." Financial Post, July 2018
"Stabilization should not be interpreted as the start of another strong rally," they warned (TD Bank economists Derek Burleton and Rishi Sondhi). That's because mortgage rates are on the rise, and home affordability levels have reached their worst levels in a quarter century... in fact historical data shows that over the past half century, inflation-adjusted house prices in Toronto fell for about a third of the time. huffingtonpost.ca, Sept 2018
My recent update of Foreign Direct Investment on my Canadian Household Debt, GDP, and Balance of Trade chart demonstrates that Canadian Capital would rather flee than fight.
But peak debt may be upon us in this business cycle as banks begin to report a drop in mortgage demand.
The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce anticipates it will issue half as many new mortgages in the latter part of the year as it did in the same period of 2017 amid cooling in the real estate market. Times Colonist May 23, 2018
David Rosenberg: Ottawa created the debt monster that Canada now faces.
"47% of residential mortgages
are set to roll over for renewal next year."
David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff + Associates, joins BNN Bloomberg to provide his take on the Canadian economy as Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz sounds the alarm on household debt in this country. Originally aired on May 2, 2018 on BNN Bloomberg
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