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
‘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.
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.
...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.
My Canadian yield curve chart above with its 10yr less 2yr plot, shows inversion is only 8 beeps away on March 2019 data. The U.S. Fed's chart is similarly poised.
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.
Marc Goldfried, head of Canoe Financial Fixed Income talks with BNN Bloomberg about dropping yields confirming a weakening economy.
The Bank rate has been 2% for the last five months but the Bank of Canada 2yr and 10yr benchmark bond yields are indeed inverted to the Bank Rate as I have noted on my Yield Curve chart (FEB 2019)
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.
On this last item, my Household Debt chart is in agreement.
Thanks to Jesse Felder @jessefelder and
Tuomas Malinen @mtmalinen for the charts above.
Today, March 13th 2019, the live
Canadian Productivity Chart exhibits a slowdown.
Peak Consumption in Canada
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
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
"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
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
Justin Havre put together a survey comparison of Canadian and U.S. Millennial's opinions of when they think home ownership is possible. The takeaways are:
- American young adults (18-24) are more optimistic about owning a home than their Canadian counterparts.
- Millennials are the largest generation on the planet and make up 35% of the American workforce.
- This is the fastest growing group of homebuyers.
- There is a big market in changing minds of Millennials who don't feel home ownership is possible, especially in Canada.
- Many Millennial's buying, spending, and savings habits have been a result of the mortgage crisis of 2008-2009.
- They may have deferred major life decisions but they are making them in increasing numbers.
One possible reason for Canadian Millennials being not as optimistic as their American counterparts is the level of consumer debt that individuals have created which is much greater in Canada by perhaps a factor of 5.
Canadian lifestyles are dependent on debt. Not only is there interest rate risk, there is also a USD/CAD exchange rate risk (see my June 27 post) and increasing import costs.
And as I have been tracking on my Household Debt chart, there appears to be a structural change in Canada that has led to:
- The widening spread between total household debt and household mortgages means we are borrowing even more to maintain lifestyle.
- 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, $1.36 leaves (full year 2017 data)
- Since the 4Q 2008 crash into the Pit of Gloom, the Balance of Trade has been negative for 70% of the time which means that our debt obligations continue to provide more stimulus to offshore than onshore producers.
And we still don't know about the net effects of Trump's Tariff-O-Nomics. So if you are going to leverage a home purchase with the maximum amount of debt allowed under the new stress test qualifiers, make sure you have your income contract term lengths matching up to your debt obligations.
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