Alberta’s Double-Dip Recession?
CANADIAN EMPLOYMENT RATES
Today we see fear in the headlines. Fear in the Party of Trump (Bolton's book is leaked), fear in the contagion pipeline ("At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus [Coronavirus] is spreading between people...” the CDC says. [2700 confirmed case and 60 million Chinese residents in lockdown provinces] via CNN JAN 27th) and fear in the stock market indexes (1st chart left).
The second chart to the left shows the "un-growth" of Canadian Labour Productivity since the peak in the 1980's punctuated by two major global stock market selloffs (fear). In OCT 1987 "Black Monday", every major world market experienced a decline. Measured in USD, 8 declined by 20-29%, 3 by 30-39%, 3 by more than 40%.
In OCT 2007 through MAR 2009 (17 months) during the Global Financial SubPrime collapse, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 53%.
Chuck Schumer speaks following leak of Bolton book excerpt
“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.
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)
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
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
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:
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