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:
"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.
As housing prices fall over long time spans, households have to make decisions about how they are going to turn the debt they acquired on the way up into equity.
There are two basic choices; get in front of the falling price curve and sell at a either a loss or gain depending on timing, or if the household has the income, pay down the debt over time as a forced savings plan. The former allows for greater savings and re-investment and the latter is a suicidal prison term chained to one price decaying asset.
In either case, households turn to saving and away from consumption.
The charts above and below are from an article by Jack Crooks of Black Swan Trading where he argues:
1) The demand for dollar liquidity in a world where the European banking system is desperately deleveraging and many in the private world are doing the same likely means the world reserve currency remains supported, even though it is likely Ben Bernanke would like to push the buck lower.
2) The commodities super cycle is behind us. This doesn't mean all commodities go lower; agricultural commodities could spike again and are subject to lots of volatility. But even the Australian Central Bank believes there has been a peak in the mining cycle in Australia.
3) The credit crunch (2008-09) really was a sea change. Massive personal balance sheet over-leverage, coupled with the decline in the biggest personal asset, real estate, seems to have triggered a sea change in both real consumption and attitude toward future consumption. This means more savings. More savings tends to mean more money in fixed income (keeping yields low).
4) The knock-on effect of a change in reduced global consumption and increased savings is the catalyst for rebalancing the current account deficit nations with the current account surplus nations. It is especially bad news for those with export-dominated growth models who will take the brunt of the adjustment domestically; and we know who you are: China, Germany, Japan...
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