Investment Mortgages WILL Be Harder to Get in 2023!

Its true! This thing called Basel 3 will make it harder to get an investment mortgage in 2023!

Lots of junk below, the short version is:

Canadian banks will need to apply more risk to investor mortgages and to lower that risk they may:

  • Increase the down payment needed from 20% to a higher amount … maybe 25% or 30%
  • Lend to fewer investors – which already make up 25% to 30% of the Canadian market.
  • New Zealand already started 40% down payment for investment properties!

“Avoid the new rules by buying your investment property in 2022!

Mortgage Mark Herman, top Calgary, Alberta mortgage broker.”

DETAILS: Canadian Bank Regulator Confirms Investor Mortgage Reduction Coming Next Year

Canadian real estate investors are about to face higher hurdles to enter the market. The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), Canada’s bank regulator, confirmed new rules being rolled out in Q2 2023. The rules are a part of international Basel III guidelines, designed to reduce risk in the system. One critical change for real estate will be raising the risk weight for investor mortgages. This will reduce their leverage, which OSFI cites as a key response to housing risk. It’s still early, but here’s what we could dig up.

The Basel Trilogy and Global Financial Risk Reduction

The Basel reforms are a global set of measures for prudential bank regulation. They were developed by the Basel Committee On Banking Supervision (BCBS). The BCBS is a 45-country group hosted by the Bank of International Settlements (BIS). The BIS is often called, “the central bank for central banks.” It’s also jokingly called the “final boss” by Bitcoin investors.

We know, it’s a lot of banking jargon and acronyms, but what they do is straightforward. Their job is creating non-partisan risk reduction standards for the global financial system. Since the world’s financial system is now interdependent, problems spill across borders. They stepped up their game after a housing bubble in the US caused a global financial crisis (GFC).

The Basel Accords are a trilogy of policy where the common goals were set. The original happened before many of you were born (1988), but Basel II and III occur after the 2007-2008 GFC. No, circle back. GFC doesn’t stand for Gesus F*cking Christ, we just explained it’s the Global Financial Crisis. We’re also worried about your spelling skills.

The Second Accord primarily addressed minimum capital adequacy requirements. In other words, how much financial institutions had on hand compared to what they lend. Basel III was held in 2010, and mostly just improves the recognition of risk.

A good chunk of BASEL III reforms have already been implemented. Increasing Common Equity Tier 1 (CET) to 4.5% of risk-weighted assets (RWAs) from 2% in BASEL II, is one example. It happened in 2015 and almost no one heard a sound. The measures have been gradually introduced to create as little noise as possible. Though real estate investors might make some noise with the next update.

Basel III Will Land In Q2 2023, and It Will Lower Investor Mortgage Leverage

Basel III will increase the capital requirements for investor mortgages. “as part of the domestic implementation of Basel 3 reform package” in banks’ fiscal Q2-2023, we are increasing the risk weights, and thus capital required, for investor mortgages compared to the risk weights for owner-occupied properties,” said OSFI this morning.

That only tells us a reduction in leverage by Q2 2023 is coming, but not how much. OSFI said they’ll get back to us with what that means for down payments soon. We’ll update as soon as they do, but in the meantime we can get an idea of what we’re in for, from Basel III guidelines.

New standardized credit risk assigns a 30% risk weight to residential real estate. Next year income producing properties with a loan-to-value between 60% and 80% will have a risk weight of 45%. A bank will assume 50% more risk weight for an investor mortgage than an owner occupied home. i.e. owner-occupied mortgages with 20% down have similar risk to investor mortgages with 30% down.

There’s no direct translation of how that’s mitigated. They could want 10 points more for a mortgage, or they can offset risk in various other ways. Raising the risk premium on interest or lending less would be two methods to deal with it. None of those are particularly great for investors, now between 25% and 30% of home sales in Canada. It will slow demand though, which is probably needed. 

Raising the down payment is already occurring in other countries like New Zealand. Last year the country increased the minimum downpayment for investors to 40% of the value. Mortgage Professionals Canada (MPC) recently suggested a similar arrangement for Canada. Yup! The organization that represents mortgage brokers suggested it as just a cooling measure. Not even a Basel III mitigation.

The Federal Government has yet to address the issue, probably since most don’t know it’s coming. That means we don’t know if they’ll help reduce the leverage for political points or it’ll come from the banks. One thing’s for sure though — it’s coming next year.

Canadian Economic Data Points Affecting Mortgages

Below are the Bank of Canada’s updated comments on the state of the economy, the Bank and singled out the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russia as a “major new source of uncertainty” that will add to inflation “around the world,” and have negative impacts on confidence that could weigh on global growth.

These are the other highlights.

Canadian economy and the housing market

  • Economic growth in Canada was very strong in the fourth quarter of 2021 at 6.7%, which is stronger than the Bank’s previous projection and confirms its view that economic slack has been absorbed
  • Both exports and imports have picked up, consistent with solid global demand
  • In January 2022, the recovery in Canada’s labour market suffered a setback due to the Omicron variant, with temporary layoffs in service sectors and elevated employee absenteeism, however, the rebound from Omicron now appears to be “well in train”
  • Household spending is proving resilient and should strengthen further with the lifting of public health restrictions
  • Housing market activity is “more elevated,” adding further pressure to house prices
  • First-quarter 2022 growth is “now looking more solid” than previously projected

Canadian inflation and the impact of the invasion of Ukraine

  • CPI inflation is currently at 5.1%, as the BoC expected in January, and remains well above the Bank’s target range
  • Price increases have become “more pervasive,” and measures of core inflation have all risen
  • Poor harvests and higher transportation costs have pushed up food prices
  • The invasion of Ukraine is putting further upward pressure on prices for both energy and food-related commodities
  • Inflation is now expected to be higher in the near term than projected in January
  • Persistently elevated inflation is increasing the risk that longer-run inflation expectations could drift upwards
  • The Bank will use its monetary policy tools to return inflation to the 2% target and “keep inflation expectations well-anchored”

Global economy

  • Global economic data has come in broadly in line with projections in the Bank’s January Monetary Policy Report
  • Economies are emerging from the impact of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 more quickly than expected, although the virus continues to circulate and the possibility of new variants remains a concern
  • Demand is robust, particularly in the United States
  • Global supply bottlenecks remain challenging, “although there are indications that some constraints have eased”

Looking ahead

As the economy continues to expand and inflation pressures remain elevated, the Bank’s Governing Council made a clear point of telling Canadians to expect interest rates to rise further.

More on Food Security – Interesting data points on the War in Ukraine

Prices for food commodities like grains and vegetable oils reached their highest levels ever last month largely because of Russia’s war in Ukraine and the “massive supply disruptions” it is causing, threatening millions of people in Africa, the Middle East elsewhere with hunger and malnourishment, the United Nations said Friday.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization said its Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in international prices for a basket of commodities, averaged 159.3 points last month, up 12.6% from February. As it is, the February index was the highest level since its inception in 1990.

FAO said the war in Ukraine was largely responsible for the 17.1% rise in the price of grains, including wheat and others like oats, barley and corn. Together, Russia and Ukraine account for around 30% and 20% of global wheat and corn exports, respectively.

While predictable given February’s steep rise, “this is really remarkable,” said Josef Schmidhuber, deputy director of FAO’s markets and trade division. “Clearly, these very high prices for food require urgent action.”

The biggest price increases were for vegetable oils: that price index rose 23.2%, driven by higher quotations for sunflower seed oil that is used for cooking. Ukraine is the world’s leading exporter of sunflower oil, and Russia is No. 2.

Rates and Prices Trending Up Due to Inflation and War

Mid-March Commentary: Rates and Prices Trending Up Due to Inflation! and War!!

On March 2nd, 2022, the Bank of Canada made its most anticipated decision on interest rates since the pandemic began. After weeks of speculation and anticipation of an increase, central bankers finally pulled the trigger and moved their overnight rate higher.

For the 1st time since the pandemic began to hurt the economy in March 2020, the Bank raised its overnight benchmark rate by .25% and the knock-on effect is that borrowing costs for Canadians will rise modestly although by historical norms, remain low. 

In its updated comments on the state of the economy, the Bank and singled out the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russia as a “major new source of uncertainty” that will add to inflation “around the world,” and have negative impacts on confidence that could weigh on global growth.

Below are the other highlights…

Canadian economy and the housing market

  • Economic growth in Canada was very strong in the fourth quarter of 2021 at 6.7%, which is stronger than the Bank’s previous projection and confirms its view that economic slack has been absorbed
  • Both exports and imports have picked up, consistent with solid global demand
  • In January 2022, the recovery in Canada’s labour market suffered a setback due to the Omicron variant, with temporary layoffs in service sectors and elevated employee absenteeism, however, the rebound from Omicron now appears to be “well in train”
  • Household spending is proving resilient and should strengthen further with the lifting of public health restrictions
  • Housing market activity is “more elevated,” adding further pressure to house prices
  • First-quarter 2022 growth is “now looking more solid” than previously projected

Canadian inflation and the impact of the invasion of Ukraine

  • CPI inflation is currently at 5.1%, as the BoC expected in January, and remains well above the Bank’s target range
  • Price increases have become “more pervasive,” and measures of core inflation have all risen
  • Poor harvests and higher transportation costs have pushed up food prices
  • The invasion of Ukraine is putting further upward pressure on prices for both energy and food-related commodities
  • Inflation is now expected to be higher in the near term than projected in January
  • Persistently elevated inflation is increasing the risk that longer-run inflation expectations could drift upwards
  • The Bank will use its monetary policy tools to return inflation to the 2% target and “keep inflation expectations well-anchored”

Global economy

  • Global economic data has come in broadly in line with projections in the Bank’s January Monetary Policy Report
  • Economies are emerging from the impact of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 more quickly than expected, although the virus continues to circulate, and the possibility of new variants remains a concern
  • Demand is robust, particularly in the United States
  • Global supply bottlenecks remain challenging, “although there are indications that some constraints have eased”

Looking ahead

As the economy continues to expand and inflation pressures remain elevated, the Bank made a clear point of telling Canadians “To expect interest rates to rise further.”

The resulting quantitative tightening (which central bankers framed as “QT” rather than the previous term “QE” for quantitative easing) would complement increases in the Bank’s policy-setting interest rate. The timing and pace of further increases in the policy rate, and the start of QT, will be guided by the Bank’s ongoing assessment of the economy and its commitment to achieving a 2% inflation target.

BoC’s next scheduled policy announcement is April 13, 2022. We will update you following that announcement as always.

 Rising rates: fixed or variable?

The Bank of Canada pulled the trigger on an interest rate increase, the first since October 2018 and the Bank has made it clear more increases are coming.

The upward move and the Bank’s messaging have rekindled the perennial mortgage debate: fixed or variable.  The answer remains the perennial: it depends.

It depends on the borrower’s end goals, finances and their desire for stability.  That last point, stability, is what leads most Canadian home buyers to opt for a 5-year, fixed-rate mortgage.  But in purely financial terms – and saving money – variable-rate mortgages tend to be cheaper, and they do not have to be volatile.

In a rising rate environment, many borrowers worry about the cost of their debt going up.  But right now, variable-rates are notably lower than fixed-rates and it will take several Bank of Canada increases to close the gap.  In the meantime, that amounts to savings for the borrower.

Those savings – often hundreds of dollars a month – could be applied against principal.  As rates rise the amount can be adjusted, thereby keeping total monthly payments the same and evening-out any volatility.

It should be remembered that fixed-rates are rising as well.  They are tied to Government of Canada 5-year bond yields.  Those yields have been increasing, and at least some of that is tied to increases in U.S. government bond yields.  Canadian bonds tend to move in sync with American bonds, but those changes do not necessarily reflect the Canadian economy.  In other words, the changes are not completely within our control.

A Few More Words on Russia Invading Ukraine

Markets were thrown into a tizzy.  They plunged.  But the frenzy was short lived.  By the end of the day markets were back in the black. 

Canada’s economic exposure to Russia and Ukraine is relatively small.  Canada imported $1.2 billion from Russia in 2020; Russia imported roughly the same from Canada – less than a week’s worth of commercial traffic across the Ambassador Bridge. 

The key factor in the conflict, for Canada, will likely be the price of oil, which has climbed past $100 a barrel.  Rising oil prices and higher fuel costs have been a principal driver of inflation here, and inflation is the main concern of the Bank of Canada.  It is currently running at 5.1%, a 30 year high, and the central bank is under growing pressure to bring it under control.

Oil is also an important part of Canada’s resource economy.  Higher prices will likely lead to more production.  Any embargo of Russian oil will create demand for Canadian product.  That, in turn, would put more load onto Canada’s economic recovery, which is strong but hampered by pandemic labour shortages and supply-chain problems which, again, are adding to inflation pressures.

None the less, war creates uncertainty, and uncertainty triggers caution among central bankers.  A recent Reuters poll of 25 economists suggests the Bank of Canada will go ahead with a quarter-point rate hike this week.

 

 

payout penalties

1M+ Buyers; When to Use a Broker

For the high-end buyers, we find most people have Private Wealth banks that can pretty much do anything … and we don’t win lots of deals for more than $1M+ unless it is a complicated deal.

If it is complicated, you have a private “general banker” trying to either “figure it out for the first time,” or remember how it works. Not the data a high-end buyer wants to rely on when structuring complicated trades in real estate.

SLIDING SCALE DOWN PAYMENT:

The 1 thing that does make a difference for high end buyers is the sliding scale – where their bank does 20% down on the first $750k and then 50% down on the balance. This 50% on the balance is the deal breaker.

We have Broker-lenders (totally secure, including 1st National, Canada’s largest lender with $110 Billion on the books) that will do 20% down on the entire purchase.

That could be a difference of 200k – 400k of down payment in the end. That often means selling more assets, in turn triggering more tax consequences longer term. A high price to pay for a nice home via your “private wealth” bank.

Summary:

Our big advantages for high-end buyers are:

  1. the Sliding Scale where the bank’s “Risk Dept” will not bend on the LTV/ down payment %.
    • This can save 200k in lower down payment and lower medium-term, tax consequences.
  2. Payout Penalties are 500% – 800% – yes 5x to 8x higher at the Big-6 banks over Broker lenders who use the “old way” to calculate the payout penalties.

Always call a mortgage broker before buying a home. Especially if you are using a Private Wealth Banker. … Mark Herman, Top Calgary Mortgage Broker near me.

Snapshot of Canadians’ finances

This is super interesting. Also remember that less than 1% of Canadians work in oil and gas, and less than 20% of Canadians make more than $85,000 a year! It shows how well Alberta is doing.
Jason Heath Jun 30, 2012

Who is the average Canadian — financially speaking? According to the Association for Canadian Studies, our median household income is $68,560 per year. Personal incomes are lowest in Prince Edward Island at $21,620 and highest in Alberta at $36,010. We pay $11,000 per year in income tax, donate $260 to charity, contribute $2,790 to our RRSPs and carry a credit card balance of $3,462. Mortgage and household debt comes in at a total of $112,329

Our net worth per capita has continued to rise, most recently clocking in at $193,500 per capita according to Statistics Canada. Real estate gains have continued to drive the increase to our net worth, though many have suggested the Canadian market could be in for a correction — or at least a pause.

The Toronto Stock Exchange has risen 59% over the past 10 years, compared with a 3% gain for the MSCI World Index and a 4% loss for the S&P 500 (excluding dividends).

Our Canadian dollar has appreciated 47% against the U.S. dollar and 16% against the euro over the past 10 years. This has made global and U.S. stock market returns even worse in Canadian dollar terms.

Canada had a double-digit personal savings rate in the ’90s, but over the past two decades, this has dropped dramatically to the current 3.1% — one of the lowest savings rates of all OECD countries. The flipside of this coin is that our current personal debt to income has simultaneously reached an all-time high of 153%. So gains in real estate and stocks have been tempered by a corresponding increase in personal debt.

The Economist Intelligence Unit lists Canada’s government debt per person at about US$39,883 or 81.6% of GDP. This compares with the U.S. at $37,953 or 76.3%. Go figure! That said, Greece’s public debt is currently $35,874 or 141.0% and Japan is at $87,601 or 204.9%.

Canada’s federal government has been consistently posting budget surpluses of about 1% of GDP since the mid-1990s, a time when many people thought Canada was on the path to a sovereign debt crisis of its own. Quite to the contrary, Canada entered and emerged from the 2008 recession relatively unscathed. And this is the asterisk beside Canada’s 81.6% debt-to-GDP ratio when compared with the 76.3% figure for the U.S. — given our neighbours are currently spending US$1.50 for every US$1 of federal revenue. Call it a “Tale of Two Countries.”

Some people suggest the U.S. and Europe could learn something from the Canadian government debt experience of the 1990s. While many people in other Western countries are now suffering as a result of their government’s debt problems, our government is sitting pretty. Our personal debt is the one black spot for the red and white as we celebrate our country’s birthday.

Jason Heath is a fee-only Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and income tax professional for Objective Financial Partners Inc. in Toronto

More problems with collateral mortgages

Here is more bad news on collateral mortgages.

People refuse to sign a 3 year cell phone contract but then for some reason have no problem in losing every  single thing you have ever made and be sued into bankruptcy by your bank for taking one of these mortgages. Again, we do not offer them but TD, Scotia, ING, and RBC have them as STANDARD. I would rather take a new 3 year cell phone contract!

Beware the pitfals of collateral mortgages

By Mark Weisleder | Sat Jul 30 2011

When you apply for a mortgage, you usually just ask about the term, amount, interest rate and monthly payment. Not many people understand the difference between a conventional mortgage and a collateral mortgage. Yet many banks are now asking borrowers to sign collateral mortgages — and it could result in them being tied to this bank, for life.

With a normal conventional mortgage you bargain for a set amount, rate and amortization. Say the property is worth $250,000 — you bargain for a $200,000 loan, at 3.5 per cent, a five-year term/25-year amortization, payments of $998.54 per month.

A conventional mortgage is registered against the property for $200,000. If all the payments are made on time, the mortgage is renewed on the same terms every five years and no prepayments are made, the balance is zero after 25 years.

Should another lender decide to lend you money as a second mortgage, there is nothing stopping them from doing so, subject to their own guidelines. Under normal circumstances the principal balance on a conventional mortgage goes only one way, down. In addition, banks will accept “transfers” of conventional mortgages from other banks, at little or no cost to the consumer.

A collateral mortgage has as its primary security a promissory note or loan agreement and as “backup,” a collateral security, being a mortgage against your property. The difference is that, in most cases, the mortgage will be for 125 per cent of the value of the property. In our example, the mortgage registered will be for $312,500. But you will only receive $200,000. The loan agreement will indicate the actual amount of the loan, interest rate and monthly payments.

The collateral mortgage may indicate an interest rate of prime plus 5-10 per cent. This will permit you to go back to this same bank and borrow more money from time to time, without having to register new security. The lender will offer you a closing service, to register the mortgage against your property, at fees that will be cheaper than what a lawyer would charge you. Sounds good so far, doesn’t it?

However, this collateral loan agreement has different consequences, which are usually not explained to the borrower.

 • Most banks will not accept “transfers” of collateral mortgages from other banks, so the consumer is forced to pay discharge fees to get out of one mortgage and additional fees to register a new mortgage if they move to a new lender. Thus the bank is able to tie you to them for all your lending needs indefinitely because it will cost you too much to move.

 • Lenders may be able to use the collateral mortgage to offset any other unpaid debts you have. Offset is a right under Canadian law that says a lender may be able to seize equity you have in your home, over and above the mortgage balance, to pay, for example, a credit-card balance, a car loan, or any loan you may have co-signed that is in default with the same lender. In essence any loans you may have with that lender may be secured by the collateral mortgage. Nobody goes into a mortgage thinking about default, but “stuff” happens in people’s lives and 25 years is a long time.

 • Let’s say your house value is $200,000. A collateral first mortgage registered on the property is $250,000. The amount owing on the mortgage is $150,000. If you were to need an additional $20,000, but the lender declines to lend it for any reason, then practically speaking you won’t be able to approach any other lender. They will not go behind a $250,000 mortgage. Your only way out would be to pay any prepayment penalty to get out of the first mortgage and pay any additional costs to get a new mortgage.

 • Let’s say your mortgage is in good standing but you default under a credit line with the same bank. The bank could in most cases still start default proceedings under your mortgage, meaning you could lose the house.

 • Some lenders are offering collateral mortgages in a “negative option billing” manner. Unless you are informed enough to say you want a conventional mortgage, you will be asked to sign documents for a collateral mortgage.

I spoke with David O’Gorman, the president and principal mortgage broker with MortgageLand Inc. He tells me it is his duty under the law to ensure the “suitability” of any mortgage he arranges for a consumer.

He would be hard pressed to justify the recommendation of this type of collateral first mortgage to any consumer, without disclosing both verbally and in writing the points listed above, and he believes the consumer should have their own lawyer review everything before they sign.

Lending money to people without proper explanation of the consequences is wrong. The banking regulators need to look into this practice and stop it. In the meantime, do not sign any mortgage document without discussing it first with your own lawyer.

Burgeoning Calgary population to fuel demand in housing market & the West is now bigger than the East!

The migration West continues! Just yesterday Canada Census noted that for the first time in history the West has more people than the East –  sure it is only by 0.1% but hey … it’s official.

The migration continues mostly for jobs in energy and all those people need homes to live in. This supports prices and continued demand – but unfortunately fills up the roads and parking lots too.

New home construction and MLS sales on upswing

CALGARY — A burgeoning population will spark another real estate cycle in Calgary with increased demand fuelling more MLS sales and more new home construction.

But industry experts don’t expect the next cycle to mirror the boom of a couple of years ago which experienced a frenzy of activity and fast-rising house prices due to a lack of supply.

Instead, a stable, steady growth is expected in Calgary’s real estate market.

On Wednesday, Statistics Canada reported the Calgary census metropolitan area had the highest rate of population growth in the country at 12.6 per cent between 2006 and 2011 and is now more than 1.2 million for the region.

Tim Logel, president and partner of home builder Cardel Lifestyles in Calgary, said the population data supports what the industry believes is happening in the market.

“What’s positive about it is that as more people move to Calgary then more of the inventory or the supply that we’ve been working on reducing gets absorbed,” said Logel. “And it gets absorbed quicker and gets us closer to being in a higher demand environment where we’re being asked to produce more new housing products of all types for the market … Over the next year with this in-migration, the extra supply will be absorbed.”

Logel said a new real estate cycle has been started in the city. The last one finished in the spring of 2007 in the Calgary market.

Ann-Marie Lurie, chief economist for the Calgary Real Estate Board, said the growing population will help support increased demand for housing in the resale market as well.

“In the resale market, especially moving forward, we think this will also help really take up some of that inventory that is in the market because we had some out-migration in the past few years. 2010 in particular, in-migration levels were extremely slow and so that impacted our housing market as well,” said Lurie.

CREB is forecasting single-family MLS sales activity to increase by 12.2 per cent this year from 2011 levels and condo transactions to jump by 5.9 per cent. Its forecast is also for average sale prices of single-family homes to rise by 2.1 per cent and by 1.7 per cent for condos.

“It’s much more of a stable growth than it was during the last boom. I just don’t see us moving there,” said Lurie. “We’re not moving into that scenario. It’s a much more stable growth and we have a good supply of inventory right now in the resale market and frankly on the new home market they do have some room to improve in some of their construction.

“They’ve got some room to grow and build more to help meet with those household formation numbers.”

Already in January some real estate data, released Wednesday, is indicating support for increased activity in the market as housing starts and residential building permits showed impressive increases compared with a year ago.

According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., housing starts in the Calgary census metropolitan area totalled 786 units in January, up 52 per cent from 518 units a year ago.

In the region, 336 single-detached units broke ground in January, up 14.7 per cent from the 293 units started in January 2011.

“This represents the sixth consecutive month where starts have increased on a year-over-year basis,” said Richard Cho, senior market analyst in Calgary for the CMHC.

Multi-family starts, which include semi-detached units, rows and apartments, increased to 450 units in January, up from 225 units a year earlier.

“As was the case in the last several months, apartment construction continues to be elevated, averaging more than 340 starts per month since August 2011,” said Cho.

Also, the estimated construction value of building permit applications for the residential sector in Calgary rose by 42 per cent in January compared with a year ago.

In releasing its latest data on Wednesday, the City said residential values increased to $153 million compared with $108 million in January 2011. This represents 651 new residential units, a 73 per cent increase compared with the January 2011 total of 376.

“The overall gain in residential value and number of new residential units can be attributed to increases in the apartment and townhouse sectors,” said Kevin Griffiths, chief building official with the city’s department of development and building approvals.

“For the month of January we accepted six apartment applications for 193 new units compared to zero last year, and 20 townhouse applications for 122 new units, compared to only seven townhouse applications totalling 44 units for the same period last year.”

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Alberta economic growth among Canada’s leaders

Alberta economic growth among Canada’s leaders: 3.7% hike forecast for this year

CALGARY — Alberta is positioned as one of Canada’s provincial leaders in growth, according to the latest RBC Economics Provincial Outlook report released Monday.

The provincial economy is set to grow at a rate of 3.7 per cent in 2011 and 3.9 per cent in 2012, said RBC. Both years Alberta will be second overall in the country behind nation-leading Saskatchewan’s growth rates of 4.3 per cent this year and 4.1 per cent next year.

Continued uncertainty in the global economy and volatility in the financial market forced RBC to downgrade its economic outlook for Canada. It is now predicting 2.4 per cent growth in 2011 and 2.5 per cent growth in 2012 for the country, down from 3.2 per cent this year and 3.1 per cent in 2012 it had forecast in June.

In June, the financial institution predicted economic growth of 4.3 per cent for Alberta this year and 3.8 per cent in 2012.

Increased production at major oilsands projects in Alberta in the past two years has rapidly boosted crude oil output and signs of further acceleration emerged earlier this year, said the report, but wildfires then forced widespread shut-downs in late-May and caused oil production to plummet in the weeks that followed.

“We expect that the negative economic impact from the wildfires will be short-lived, as most facilities were able to resume operations fairly quickly after the fires subsided,” said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist for RBC. “The economic loss associated with this disaster should be largely recovered in the second half of 2011.”

Solid investment in Alberta’s energy-related sector is the key driver of economic growth at play in the province, added the report. Oil and gas producers are slated to spend more than $24 billion this year, an 18 per cent increase over 2010.

“Continued strength in energy-related sectors will support a slight acceleration in economic growth to 3.9 per cent in 2012, maintaining Alberta’s status as a growth powerhouse,” said Wright. “This has had a positive impact on employment, as more than 77,000 jobs were added to the Alberta economy in the first eight months of this year, which was the strongest gain ever recorded over this period in the province.”

mtoneguzzi@calgaryherald.com

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

The background on the US debt and why Obama is doing a good job

There is lots of Obama bashing going on – mostly fueled by Fox News.

I am not political at all, and do not comment on it in general, but economically speaking Obama is doing all the right things: keeping up government spending to fuel the recovery and cutting taxes to reduce the debt. This is textbook economics.

the Bush tax cuts are one of the biggest problems, and as you can see, the US rich are getting what they want – keeping the tax cuts.

See below, this most excellent chart, of the size of the mess that Bush handed over to Obama and what he has to work with. A pretty poor hand to start with.

Obama’s and Bush’s effects on the deficit in one graph

From the New York Times :


What’s also important, but not evident, on this chart is that Obama’s major expenses were temporary — the stimulus is over now — while Bush’s were, effectively, recurring. The Bush tax cuts didn’t just lower revenue for 10 years. It’s clear now that they lowered it indefinitely, which means this chart is understating their true cost. Similarly, the Medicare drug benefit is costing money on perpetuity, not just for two or three years. And Boehner, Ryan and others voted for these laws and, in some cases, helped to craft and pass them.

To relate this specifically to the debt-ceiling debate, we’re not raising the debt ceiling because of the new policies passed in the past two years. We’re raising the debt ceiling because of the accumulated effect of policies passed in recent decades, many of them under Republicans. It’s convenient for whichever side isn’t in power, or wasn’t recently in power, to blame the debt ceiling on the other party. But it isn’t true.

Teetering on the edge of a rate hike – not all bad news

This article below is good news for everyone with a variable rate – as it looks like they will not go up that fast.

The data below is the most accurate with out any hype that I have seen is a while.

Teetering on the edge of a rate hike

Well we have a better idea of where Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney stands, and it appears that we’re teetering on the edge of a rate hike.

This comes as no surprise, with many analysts crying for a rate increase for some time now. The question is whether it will be at the next meeting, or the meeting after that, or even before year end.

The key takeaway is that Carney signaled that ‘some’ government stimulus ‘will’ be withdrawn, rather than ‘all’ and ‘eventually’ withdrawn. That means he’s close to pulling the plug. We are looking at growth and employment numbers for the second half of the year and if it remains strong, we may see rates move before year end.

With this week’s announcement put on the backburner, analysts are focused on where we’re going over the next several months, and they certainly have a lot to consider in their projections.

The Bank has a goal of a neutral rate, which bolsters the economy yet controls inflationary pressures. There’s no magical ‘neutral rate’, but economists figure it’s in the 3%-4% range. However, Carney seems reluctant to pull the trigger on rates, considering the likes of the U.S. economy along with the issues we see in several European countries.  If we widen the rate gap with the U.S. it will only drive the loonie up further, creating more resistance for economic growth.

Another external factor is the European sovereign debt crisis, in which Carney senses more concern over their troubles that the U.S. will default on its debt. The chances of the U.S. defaulting on its debt is slim and more of a scare tactic than anything. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a huge problem and the Obama Administration doesn’t know whether to turn left or right, but at the same time, if the US defaulted we’d be talking about a whole new worldwide fiasco.

Since the Bank of Canada doesn’t declare what a neutral rate is, it’s hard to determine when and how much rates will move when they do. By the way that Carney is talking it appears as though when rates do start to rise that they will in a controlled manner and they won’t be too aggressive. Analysts and economists shouldn’t assume that rate increases are going to be quick and steep.

Here at home our economy seems to be moving along as projected, and any sudden, high rate increases will be sure to stifle our growth. It looks like if everything goes to plan we may see a modest hike in October, but if some of the assumptions are off a bit it may be later before we see any movement.