The chart above is my look at Canadian household debt and the observation that Federal Direct Investment into Canada has now been net negative for 20 years with the just published 2016 data update. That's a trend and notice it's now at an historic wide for the last two years.
Foreigners have not been willing to invest in Canada in a net positive way for the last 20 years and Canadian investors prefer to seek their fortune offshore where labour costs are cheaper and regulations less onerous. "Canada’s fall to the third most attractive region in the world for investment is reflective of Alberta’s continued deterioration, as investors continue to view the province as less attractive for investment." Fraser Institute March 2, 2017
Canadians have made a massive long term leveraged bet on domestic housing which is a negative yielding asset that needs cash flow to sustain it. If you have recently signed up for a 25 year mortgage, you should consider asking your employer for a 25 year employment contract; you may need it if most of our business is with the U.S. All bets are off on the future.
I covered what I think to be President Donald Trump's characteristics on November 14, 2016, namely that his tendency is psychopathic and fascist: "Trumped" November 14, 2016, but Let me add some more descriptors.
Kleptocratic from the Greek, literally means "rule by thieves" (Wikipedia).
Sociopathic Narcissist: Donald Trump, Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Sociopathy, by John C. Espy Karnacology, March 01, 2017
Here is the introduction:
With all of the discussions going on about Donald Trump’s ‘narcissism’, I thought I might offer a broader clinical perspective regarding sociopathic narcissism. Clearly there is great ongoing discussion about Donald Trump’s ‘narcissism’, however, I believe what has been errant in the discussion is that Trump is by definition not just ‘narcissistic.’ Trump’s narcissistic manifestations also appear to be well entrenched in sociopathy.
If you want to get under the hood of the Trumpster's brain, keep reading John Espy's diagnosis, it's worth the effort.
As Timothy L. O'Brien, the executive editor of Bloomberg Gadfly and Bloomberg View succinctly put it: Two things have always driven the president: self-aggrandizement and self-preservation. Bloomberg, May 10, 2017.
Trump's need for self-aggrandizement and self-preservation is the easiest filter to use to put all Trump news through when assessing whether Canada and your income is going to be better off as a result of the news. If it is good for Trump, check your wallet.
There are other adjectives to describe President Trump.
This following interview of Trump by editors of The Economist magazine where Trump asks "Have you heard that expression ("prime the pump") used before? Because I haven’t heard it. I mean, I just…I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good. It’s what you have to do."... will probably elicit more additions to your own list of descriptors.
DONALD TRUMP, the President of the United States, along with Steve Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, and Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, sat down for a conversation with editors from The Economist on May 4th, 2017.
The Religious Right
Did we import a Boom?
As the mashup of charts of Canada & U.S. Savings Rate, Retail Sales and Household Ownership demonstrates, Canadians have gone all in on the consumption industry errr... I mean the construction industry. Well that's what housing construction is. Yes it does produce a finished product but essentially it is an assembly of imported commodities that we put together just like in our automotive "industry"(ironically, oil is near the top of the import list).
The Cost of Being Canadian
even when the CAD/USD is near par
- In the U.S. for the past 55+ years the average NRoI has been +/- 2.5% and in the Eurozone has been +/- 1.7% (MonetaryRealism.com). In Canada, the "real" Bank of Canada bank rate (rate less CPI) was approaching 5% in 2007 before the 2008 crash and as well after the dot.com bust in 2001. It's flirting with zero now.
At street level in Canada earnings have been topping with the commodity crash but in many cases, earnings reliability are not even necessary to use in the calculus of risk analysis when granting a mortgage or consumer loan. We should be ashamed of ourselves, but instead we blame others.
As CIBC economist Benjamin Tal said, he is concerned that subprime lending is “driving the bus.”
Subprime borrowers’ debt loads will continue to grow as long as interest rates are low. Benjamin Tal
- Average debt levels up nearly 3% in the first quarter of 2016.
- Non-mortgage debt rose to $21,348 in 1Q 2016, up 2.7% Y/Y.
- Subprime average credit card balance grew by 5.7% Y/Y to $6,601.
- High interest installment loans grew 4.8% Y/Y to an average $23,591.
- Serious delinquency rates (90+ days late) increased 3% in 1Q 2016.
At the national level it's worse; net Federal Direct Investment widened dramatically in 2015 Y/Y meaning that Canadian investment capital would rather look for yield offshore than on. We can't even invest in ourselves (Net FDI has been negative for the last nearly 20 years); we continue to increase our borrowing so that we can consume to 'maintain' our lifestyle.
Even people without money via savings and low employment earnings are buying property - how would they know the value of money? Well they will find out along with their extended families the difference between equity and debt in an aging speculative triumph.
BMO Millennial Home Buyer Survey (March 2016)
According to the survey, millennials expect they will have to spend $350,000, on average, to buy their first home. These amounts range from about $235,000 in Quebec to more than $478,000 in British Columbia... To make such a purchase, respondents indicated that they expected to raise about 15 per cent of the purchase price for their down payment - or, roughly, an average of $53,000. Most (65%) indicated that they would rely, to some extent, on parents or other family members for financial assistance for as much as 10% of the purchase price, although most don't know.
A probability sample of this size would yield results accurate to ± 2.2 percent, 19 times out of 20.
Ipsos Reid - BDO Poll (May 2016)
55% of Canadian would have trouble paying bills if interest rates rise.
46% say rising cost of living is limiting the money they put toward paying off debts.
37% say the rising cost of living hasn’t impacted their debt payments at all, suggesting its having some impact on most people.
58% think the value of their home will increase.
The poll is accurate to within +/ - 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled.
Condo Construction Subject To Red Alert From Royal Bank
HuffingtonPost.ca (May 30, 2016)
RBC isn't the only organization that has presented concerning statistics regarding the housing market recently.
Sales activity in Toronto and Vancouver may have "topped out," Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) president Cliff Iverson said earlier this month.
Sales didn't grow in Toronto at all in April after dropping 1.8 per cent in March.
They were also down one per cent in Vancouver, after a drop of 0.3 per cent the previous month.
Gregor Robertson Mayor of Vancouver, May 30, 2016
Yes, housing prices are high in Vancouver, and global capital plays a part in that. If prices keep increasing, many of the things we love about Vancouver are at risk, and many will not be able to put down roots in a city bound together by a rich, multicultural history that has a lot to offer geographically and culturally.
Magic Bus - The Who 1968
I don't care how much I pay
I wanna drive my bus
to my baby each day
I want it
I want it
I want it
I want it
Worry Worry Worry
The chart to the left shows the GDP growth rate in Canada, the U.S. and Japan since before the 2009 Pit of Gloom to 3Q 2015
I was prompted to compare the three after reading Michael Sankowski's "Crazy Talk: Raising rates while Inflation is near 70 year lows." and Beowulf's comment "...Congress should go ahead and pass a law locking in rates..." (Monetary Realism July 2015)
Hello Japanada. I think what has to happen before rates rise is that inflation has to show up in wages alongside of higher employment rates and then we will see the general CPI overtaking the target mandate (2%-ish). Look again at the top chart comparing Canada, the U.S. and Japan... the 3 plots are similar rising and falling in concert and the question is, will the U.S. GDP start going negative. There is a good chance of it because the USD continues to strengthen against other currencies and the net trade deficit year to date increased 3.9% Y/Y as exports decreased 3.8% and imports decreased 2.4%. (US BEA, Nov 4, 2015).
Why do the hot Canadian real estate markets continue to outperform? Certainly low rates are an inducement to buy since they lower the qualification bar on the credit worthy at the margins, but qualifying for credit does not mitigate risk when the real estate object of desire is a negative yielding asset. It's all good in a rising price environment, but if prices correct for any reason the spotlight will turn to earnings and cash flow.
I did a back of the napkin ownership cost on a mid range vehicle ($49,000 plus taxes, fees and documentation of $6,500) financed with 10% down and only 2% financing over 3 years. That $49,000 car ends up costing close to $60,000 by the end of the third year and has depreciated by 50% to be worth only $30,000. If the car is sold in month 37, the cost that the consumer has paid is approximately $833 per month to drive a new car for 3 years without even adding in maintenance ($100/mo?), insurance ($100/mo?), parking ($100/mo?) repairs ($?) or disposal cost ($?) of the vehicle.
I belong to Vancouver's best and biggest car sharing non-profit society MODO and my cost for having access to over 400 vehicles as well as using taxi's and public transport is less than $150/month for two people.
Are Canadians Spent?
Canadians are being lured once again with a new record low 5 year fixed mortgage rate at 2.79% (CBC News, March 17, 2015). The creditworthy are going to take advantage of the potential to leverage this new helicopter drop.
The top panel shows Canadian Retail Sales with and without auto sales since the Pit of Gloom in March 2009. The lower panel shows the Canadian Balance of Trade as well as the Current Account in the same time frame as retail sales.
Notice in the top panel that retail sales ex-auto have plunged and are nearly at the March 2009 Pit of Gloom lows. It might be cheaper than last year to drive to the mall but when you get there, imported goods (including refined fuel) require more of those 78 cent dollars. If Canadians are not in the stores buying stuff, employers will reduce labour costs (fewer hours or more automation) and manufacturers will produce less for this market.
In the lower panel, the Canadian Balance of Trade is plunging into deeper negative readings than at the pit of gloom as the export trade gets swamped by higher import costs on a low CAD.
The Current Account overlay remains at pit of gloom lows and the only way to reverse the deficit trend is to increase exports, decrease imports, depreciate the CAD, increase domestic savings or reduce domestic and or national borrowing or a combination of the above.
Mortgage debt requires a long term transfer of savings to transform the liability into an asset. A $100,000 loan at 3% with monthly payments over 25 years requires a repayment of $142,263.39 and does not account for increases in interest rates over 25 years.
The additional $42,263.39 of interest payments is coming out of savings but not going into productive investment. A mortgage is not an investment or a savings plan.
If the collateral securing the mortgage depreciates faster than the loan principal outstanding, debt revulsion will trump consumption desire.
During the mortgage boom, credit is easy, prices are rising, people are working in and around the housing sector and governments are collecting taxes and expanding services.
After a mortgage boom, the bust shows up and if there was a rapid ramp-up in mortgage creation, a deep and prolonged recession subsequently unfolds.
Notice in the chart (left) that mortgage creation in bank portfolios increased:
from 1928 to 1970:
from 1970 to 2007:
Post WW2 and 1970's inflation, Canada has been late to the party and the ongoing Canadian mortgage creation boom relative to total bank lending which includes business and structural expansion financing, is 2x that of the U.K. and 3x that of the U.S.
We are building a leaky condo economy.
- OCT 2014 HuffingtonPost Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s insurance portfolio is currently worth $551 billion, equivalent to 30 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product.
- APR 2014 SpartanFunds Given its scale, a deceleration in the growth of CMHC’s balance sheet could seize up much of the credit creation in Canada. This is not merely a hypothetical issue: CMHC is rapidly approaching a parliamentary-imposed mortgage insurance cap of $600bil
- U.S. mortgage loans in banks’ total lending portfolios have doubled from about 30% in 1900 to about 60% today.
- The core business model of banks in advanced economies today resembles that of real estate funds.
- Mortgage lending to households and has little to do with the financing of the business sector.
- Record-high leverage ratios potentially increase the fragility of household balance sheets and the financial system itself.
- Since WW2 real estate credit has become a significant predictor of impeding financial fragility.
- The aftermaths of mortgage booms are marked by deeper recessions and slower recoveries.
- The slump is deeper and the recovery slower if mortgage growth was rapid in the preceding boom.
- Mortgaging has been a major influence on financial fragility in advanced economies, and has also increasingly left its mark on business cycle dynamics.
When prices stop rising, the boom collapses and because there has been no increase in business investment other than supplying the housing trade, unemployment goes up and spending and tax collection goes down. Then the boring business of converting debt into equity unfolds by the long process of debt repayment amortized over decades or the short process of liquidation.
The first important insight from our data collection effort is that the sharp increase of credit-to-GDP ratios in advanced economies in the 20th century has been first and foremost a result of the rapid growth of loans secured against real estate – i.e. mortgage and hypothecary lending. (A hypothec is a right linked to property.) The share of mortgage loans in banks’ total lending portfolios has roughly doubled over the course of the past century –from about 30% in 1900 to about 60% today, (U.S.).
In other words, banking today consists primarily of the intermediation of savings to the household sector for the purchase of real estate. The core business model of banks in advanced economies today resembles that of real estate funds: banks are borrowing (short) from the public and capital markets to invest (long) in assets linked to real estate.
By contrast, nonmortgage bank lending to companies for investment purposes and nonsecured lending to households have remained stable over the 20th century in relation to GDP. Nearly all of the increase in the size of the financial sectors in Western economies since 1913 stems from a boom in mortgage lending to households and has little to do with the financing of the business sector.
Household mortgage debt has typically risen faster than asset values, resulting in record-high leverage ratios that potentially increase the fragility of household balance sheets and the financial system itself.
Mortgage lending booms were only loosely associated with financial crisis risks before WW2, but since then real estate credit has become a significant predictor of impeding financial fragility in the postwar era.
Since WW2, it is only the aftermaths of mortgage booms that are marked by deeper recessions and slower recoveries. Both in normal recessions and in financial crisis recessions, the slump is deeper and the recovery slower if mortgage growth was rapid in the preceding boom.
In the second half of the 20th century, banks and households have been heavily leveraging up through mortgages. Mortgage credit on the balance sheets of banks has been the driving force behind the increasing financialisation of advanced economies. Our research shows that this great mortgaging has been a major influence on financial fragility in advanced economies, and has also increasingly left its mark on business cycle dynamics.
- Òscar Jordà is a Research Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; Professor of Economics, UC Davis
- Moritz Schularick is a Professor of Economics at the University of Bonn
- Alan Taylor is a Professor of Economics and Finance, University of California, Davis
Source & HatTip to: http://pragcap.com/the-great-mortgaging
There was a regime change, January 2014, at the Federal Housing Finance Agency where Ed DeMarco (higher credit scores required for Fannie & Freddie insurance) was replaced with Mel Watt (reduce F&F requirements) that will keep the tax payer goosing itself in the housing market.
Apparently the housing "recovery" isn't. The mortgage lobby loves credit risk when the co-signer is the tax payer. The chart mashup:
- Housing Affordability has dropped +/- 19% since 2012
- Real Income Growth has dropped +/- 7% since 2009
- Available Housing Credit (Debt) plunged from the peak in 2006
- U.S. Student Debt (Credit) zoomed up 35% from 2005-2012
- The 25-34 Age Cohort's Real Earnings dropped 2.2% '05-'12
- Existing House Sales have plunged & bounced 3x since 2006
- The Mortgage Refinance Boom of 2010-2013 has crashed
"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp"
(Featuring Shug) from Hustle & Flow 2005
Canadian Consumer Debt Zoomed 9% Y/Y in 2013 according to Equifax as reported by CBC News today in advance of Minister of Finance Mr Flaherty's Budget, scheduled to be tabled tomorrow. If the government budget again includes their mantra "We are going to Balance The Budget in 2015" (Oct 2015 is when the next federal election is), then a 9% annual growth in private sector consumer debt is going to increase even more unless lenders freak and turn off the tap, or consumers withdraw into balance sheet repair. Don't worry about non-conventional mortgages (mortgages of more than 80% Loan to Value); they are all insured mostly by you dear tax payer. Mortgage debt clocks in at almost two thirds of Canadian Consumer Debt and that increased 12% over the last year.
As can been seen by the charts below, Government Debt to GDP is curving down and that is not occurring because we are a successful export country. Nope... we are an import country as reflected in our Trade Balance which has been locked into a 5 year negative channel since the March 2009 Pit of Gloom. Government Spending Growth has been reduced (via Balance the Budget Policy) and the hit to the CA$ in the last year has driven up the cost of imports and most of the stuff we buy. In order to maintain its lifestyle, the Private Sector is using credit in the absence of Government Sector spending and a chronic Trade Balance deficit.
In October 2013 we observed that the big profit money in house flipping is in the 2-5 million$ high end range and that volumes peaked in 4Q 2012 (Chart).
But in the fall of 2013 the really big institutional money who had been aggressively buying bank foreclosures in mega wholesale lots since at least the spring of 2012, came back in with even more investment and have sent the "All Cash Buyer" stats up to record highs. The institutional vigor has been good for short term flippers who in 2013 needed less than 3 months to make capital gains per unit flip of close to $60,000 per transaction. Cash is king in a low yield world.
The bottom panel of the chart mashup shows that the mortgage market is a different story. "Low Cash Buyers" disappeared into the March 2009 Pit of Gloom and then disappeared some more as their participation in household ownership formation has plunged even lower to levels of the mid-1990's according the the MBA Purchase Index at January 2014.
"Predicting the behavior of a sunspot cycle is fairly reliable once the cycle is well underway." MSFC-NASA
“My opinion is that we are heading into a Maunder Minimum,” said Mark Giampapa, a solar physicist at the National Solar Observatory (NSO) in Tucson, Arizona. “I’m seeing a continuation in the decline of the sunspots’ mean magnetic field strengths and a weakening of the polar magnetic fields and subsurface flows.”
Meanwhile a sudden flight to lower yields via up ticking CPI and global equity valuation fear. Notice the TSX Real Estate index has been in a trading range since the summer of 2012 and has failed to break through the spring 2013 top. It's similar to the Canadian real 10 year yield and if that plunges with more CAD dollar sell off, we will probably see more unwillingness to subsidize equity positions, and real estate appraisers (and margin clerks) will become busy again. DIY here.
History, Charts & Curated Readings
Balance Of Trade
Rent Or Buy