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
The higher the price, the harder it gets:
Homes listed at less than $1 million: 45% failed to sell.
Homes listed at $1 million or more: 61% failed to sell.
Homes listed at $5 million or more (656 units): 79% failed to sell.
Resale transactions on Vancouver homes over $1 million fell by 26 per cent in 2018, with the slowdown more heavily weighted toward the second half of the year, said the brokerage. This was the third consecutive year of a decline in “top-tier” home sales over $1 million.
In the single-family home sector alone, the annual sales declines were even deeper, down 35 per cent among $1 million-plus homes and 51 per cent among $4 million-plus homes.
High-end condos in the City of Vancouver fared somewhat better but still “gave in to market stressors” in the latter half of the year, said Sotheby’s. Sales on condos over $1 million fell by 14 per cent year over year.
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 $100 billion. C.D. Howe Report, September 2018
A return to savings will eventually allow the pendulum of capital investment to return to productive use. But asset deflation is in view now and we don't yet know it's future length of trend.
One asset class that retains value and even grows during a broad deflationary event is precious metals; and that canary in the coal mine is happening now. See my ongoing chart study of "real" gold and real estate.
December 31, 2018 note to clients:
While we wait for the November Real estate data to come in, the World Trade Organization has released their November 26, 2018 World Trade Outlook Indicator.
Their Trade Indicator has dropped to the lowest level since October 2016.
NOTE that the Canadian National MLS Real Estate sales peaked three months later in January of 2017.
World Trade Component Indices Key Findings Full Text
This report covers new trade and trade-related measures implemented by G20 economies between 16 May and 15 October 2018. It shows a number of important trends in global trade policy-making. While G20 economies continued to implement trade-facilitating measures, the figures show a significant increase in the number and coverage of trade-restrictive measures. This provides a first factual insight into the trade‑restrictive measures imposed in the context of current trade tensions.
G20 economies applied 40 new trade-restrictive measures during the review period, including tariff increases, import bans and export duties. This equates to an average of eight restrictive measures per month.
During the review period, the estimated trade coverage of the import-restrictive measures (US$ 481 billion) was more than six times larger than that recorded in the previous period and is the largest since it was first calculated in 2012.
G20 economies also implemented 33 measures aimed at facilitating trade during the review period, including eliminating or reducing import tariffs and export duties. At close to seven trade‑facilitating measures per month, this is in line with the 2012-17 trend.
The trade coverage of import-facilitating measures (US$ 216 billion) has also risen significantly during this period but is just half that of trade-restrictive measures.
On trade remedy measures, the review period saw a decrease in initiations of investigations by G20 economies and a stagnation of terminations compared to the previous period. Initiations of anti-dumping investigations remain the most frequent trade remedy action, accounting for almost three-quarters of all initiations. The trade coverage of trade remedy initiations (US$ 25 billion) has fallen significantly compared to the previous period. The trade coverage of trade remedy terminations remained equivalent to the previous review period at US$ 6 billion.
The proliferation of trade‑restrictive actions and the uncertainty created by such actions could place economic recovery in jeopardy. Further escalation would carry potentially large risks for global trade, with knock-on effects for economic growth, jobs and consumer prices around the world.
G20 economies must use all means at their disposal to de-escalate the situation. The WTO will do all it can to support its members to this end and leadership from the G20 will be essential. PDF Chart Source
3 of My Charts Echo the WTO Warning
Canadian National MLS sales peaked in January 2017. Two of the six WTO metrics were already in recession.
The 10yr less 2yr yield metric was at its last major wide in January 2017 and now is only 16 bps from inversion.
Since January 2017, there have been 21 unbroken consecutive negative Net Trade prints.
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"
The OECD released their May 2018 Canadian Economic Forecast Summary. Their charts to the left conflates our usual obsession with "flation" which in Latin means to "blow". We worry about whether our investments in production and consumption are going to blow or suck.
Chris Kimble released a June 21st chart triptych "3 Key Economic Indicators May Be Flashing Caution Here"
The monthly charts of Commodities, Crude Oil and U.S. 10 Year Treasuries are at "Long-Term” Fibonacci retracement levels at the same time and could be creating reversal patterns."
"I have a simple goal for my investment research - help people to enlarge portfolios regardless of market direction by looking for patterns at extreme points of "exhaustion" with a high probability of reversing." Chris Kimble
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
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