UGH! The BoC whacks borrowers again.
Mark Herman, Top Calgary Alberta Mortgage Broker
Yesterday, the Bank of Canada increased its overnight interest rate to 5.00% (+0.25% from June) because of the “accumulation of evidence” that excess demand and elevated core inflation are both proving more persistent and after taking into account its “revised outlook for economic activity and inflation.”
This decision was not unexpected by analysts but is disconcerting – as is the Bank’s pledge to continue its policy of quantitative tightening.
To understand today’s decision and the Bank’s current thinking on inflation, interest rates and the economy, we highlight its latest observations below:
Inflation facts and outlook
- In Canada, Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation eased to 3.4% in May, a “substantial and welcome drop from its peak of 8.1% last summer”
- While CPI inflation has come down largely as expected so far this year, the downward momentum has come more from lower energy prices, and less from an easing of “underlying inflation”
- With the large price increases of last year removed from the annual data, there will be less near-term “downward momentum” in CPI inflation
- Moreover, with three-month rates of core inflation running around 3.5% to 4% since last September, “underlying price pressures appear to be more persistent than anticipated”, an outcome that is reinforced by the Bank’s business surveys, which found businesses are “still increasing their prices more frequently than normal”
- Global inflation is easing, with lower energy prices and a decline in goods price inflation; however, robust demand and tight labour markets are causing persistent inflationary pressures in services
Canadian housing and economic performance
- Canada’s economy has been stronger than expected, with more momentum in demand
- Consumption growth was “surprisingly strong” at 5.8% in the first quarter
- While the Bank expects consumer spending to slow in response to the cumulative increase in interest rates, recent retail trade and other data suggest more persistent excess demand in the economy
- The housing market has seen some pickup
- New construction and real estate listings are lagging demand, which is adding pressure to prices
- In the labour market, there are signs of more availability of workers, but conditions remain tight, and wage growth has been around 4-5%
- Strong population growth from immigration is adding both demand and supply to the economy: newcomers are helping to ease the shortage of workers while also boosting consumer spending and adding to demand for housing
Global economic performance and outlook
- Economic growth has been stronger than expected, especially in the United States, where consumer and business spending has been “surprisingly” resilient
- After a surge in early 2023, China’s economic growth is softening, with slowing exports and ongoing weakness in its property sector
- Growth in the euro area is effectively stalled: while the service sector continues to grow, manufacturing is contracting
- Global financial conditions have tightened, with bond yields up in North America and Europe as major central banks signal further interest rate increases may be needed to combat inflation
- The Bank’s July Monetary Policy Report projects the global economy will grow by “around 2.8% this year and 2.4% in 2024, followed by 2.7% growth in 2025”
Summary and Outlook
As higher interest rates continue to work their way through the economy, the BoC expects economic growth to slow, averaging around 1% through the second half of 2023 and the first half of next year. This implies real GDP growth of 1.8% in 2023 and 1.2% in 2024. The Canadian economy will then move into “modest excess supply” early next year before growth picks up to 2.4% in 2025.
In its July Monetary Policy Report, the Bank noted that CPI inflation is forecast to “hover” around 3% for the next year before gradually declining to 2% in the middle of 2025. This is a slower return to target than was forecast in its January and April projections. As a result, the Bank’s Governing Council remains concerned that progress towards its 2% inflation target “could stall, jeopardizing the return to price stability.”
In terms of what Canadians can expect in the near term, the Bank had this to say: “Quantitative tightening is complementing the restrictive stance of monetary policy and normalizing the Bank’s balance sheet. Governing Council will continue to assess the dynamics of core inflation and the outlook for CPI inflation. In particular, we will be evaluating whether the evolution of excess demand, inflation expectations, wage growth and corporate pricing behaviour are consistent with achieving the 2% inflation target. The Bank remains resolute in its commitment to restoring price stability for Canadians.”
September 6th, 2023 is the Bank’s next scheduled policy rate announcement. Will there be 1x more increase?
We watch lots of technial things to see where rates are going. One of those is the CMB – Canadain Mortgage Bond.
Today, the benchmark government of Canada five year bond yield ended the week at 0.79%, up from 0.73% the previous week.
that means that fixed rates may move up from their 2.74 – 2.79% soon.
Get your rate hold / applicastion in!
Mark Herman, AMP, B. Comm., CAM, MBA-Finance
WINNER: #1 Franchise for Funded $ Mortgage Volume at Mortgage Alliance Canada, 2013 and 2014!
Accredited Mortgage Professional | Mortgage Alliance | Mortgages are Marvelous
We are able to watch some indicators that drive mortgage interest rates. This is how we can guess what rates are going to do over a 10 day or so period.
Right now the spread on Canadian 5 year mortgage bond is 1.795%. This is WELL BELOW the comfort zone of 1.90% and 2.10%. Can we potentially see a rise in interest rates?
Hard to say as the spread has be bouncing all over the last few days, but it could trigger a small rise in rates if it does not bounce back soon.
What does this mean?
- If you are going to buy a home, or are planning on moving up or
- have a mortgage that is up for renewal in less than 120 days from now, or know someone who does, then
- CALL for a rate hold at today’s super low rates ASAP. We answer the phone from 9 am to 10 pm every way, holidays and weekends included.
Other Key Points about Mortgage Brokers:
- We have access to all the banks.
- The banks pay us for doing their work for them so there are no fees to clients for our services.
- The rates and terms & conditions are better than the Big 6 offer.
- We offer unbiased, expert advice; we only do mortgages and nothing else; and have been 1 of the top-10 brokers in Canada for the last 5 years.
Please feel free to call or reply with comments or questions.
These are exciting times,
Mark Herman, AMP, B. Comm., CAM, MBA-Finance
1 of the Top-10 brokers of 1,700 at Mortgage Alliance
Accredited Mortgage Professional | Mortgage Alliance – Mortgages are Marvelous
Toll Free Secure E-Fax: 1-866-823-1279
A study conducted by Maritz Canada showed customers renewing or renegotiating with a mortgage broker’s help reported a rate decrease of 1.40%, compared to a decrease of 1.00% among all mortgage renewals.
Brokers are your best choice for seeking home financing advice and assistance.
This is true – the banks are sending us 2 rates … 1 rate for a CMHC/ Genworth insured mortgage and a slightly higher one for more than 20% down – or a conventional mortgage that is not insured.
The article below fully explains why.
By Garry Marr, Financial Post May 3, 2012
It doesn’t make much sense, but a skimpy down payment on a home might actually get you a better mortgage rate in today’s market.
Blame the government subsidy known as mortgage default insurance, which ultimately makes it less risky to lend money to someone who has only 5% down compared to someone with 20%.
Consumers with less than 20% down must get mortgage default insurance in Canada if they are borrowing from a federally regulated bank. The cost is up to 2.75% of the mortgage amount upfront on a 25-year amortization but that fee comes with 100% backing from the federal government if the insurance is provided by Crown corporation Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.
“It’s already happening,” says Rob McLister, editor of Canadian Mortgage Trends, who says secondary lenders are now offering rates that are 10 to 15 basis points higher for a closed five-year mortgage for uninsured consumers.
The crackdown on mortgage insurance announced by Jim Flaherty, the federal Finance Minister, could exacerbate the situation. Mr. Flaherty, who mused to the Financial Post editorial board last week about getting CMHC out of the mortgage insurance business, has placed the agency under the authority of the country’s banking regulator, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.
Mr. Flaherty also put in new rules on bulk or portfolio insurance. The banks had been paying the insurance premium on low-ratio mortgages – loans with more than 20% down – because it was easier to securitize them.
However, Mr. Flaherty says those loans will no longer be allowed in the government’s covered bond program.
“Long story short, it is going to tick up rates to some degree,” Mr. McLister says. “You are seeing an interesting phenomenon where if you go to get a mortgage today, you are oftentimes quoted a higher rate on a conventional mortgage. Presumably you have less risk because you have more equity.”
“There is a question on whether they will continue doing that or raise rates overall to compensate for higher conventional mortgage costs,” Mr. McLister says.
“When we can’t securitize a deal, there is a different cost of funds but the bank continues to offer the same rate,” said Ms. Haque, adding her bank did charge a premium for stated income deals, which usually means self-employed people, but removed the difference last week. The premium was 20 basis points.
“Looking at the competitive landscape, it was a disadvantage,” she says. “We were aiming to target pricing that was specific and for the risk appetite for that deal itself. We didn’t want one [deal] compensating for the other.”
But the banks have bigger fish to fry than just your mortgage. Those with the larger equity position in their homes may be a costlier mortgage to fund, but they also could be a future line-of-credit customers. There’s also the potential for other business such as RRSPs and TFSA, so losing a few basis points might make more sense in the long run.
Peter Routledge, an analyst at National Bank Financial, says he wouldn’t want to be an investor in a bank that approached its business any other way, though he did acknowledge there is a cost to keeping those conventional mortgages. “It’s in effect a subsidy,” Mr. Routledge says.
While banks may be eating some of the costs for people who are not eligible for a subsidy, if they continue down that road they might not be able to match the rates some of the secondary lenders are able to offer with insured mortgages.
It doesn’t sound like much, but the difference between, say, 3.14% and 3.29% on a $500,000 mortgage amortized over 25 years would be about $3,500 extra in interest on a five-year term.
It’s true that those people getting the better rate pay a hefty fee up front in insurance premiums, but they also represent a greater risk to the taxpayer. Do they deserve a better rate?
We all know interest rates are going to go up. Even after reading this the big hit we all know is coming is that variable rate mortgage payments go up right away. The rest mentioned below may come later.
Jason Heath Mar 31, 2012 – 7:00 AM ET | Last Updated: Mar 30, 2012 9:09 AM ET
For three years, the word on the street has been that interest rates have nowhere to go but up. But few Canadian commentators – other than David Rosenberg – got the call on rates right. Although the prime rate has risen since dropping to an all-time low of 2.25% in April 2009, the increase to the current 3% rate that has remained stable since September 2010 has been modest to say the least. Long-term rates, like fixed mortgage rates, have gone up and come back down during that time, such that one can currently lock in fixed rates under 3%.
York University’s Moshe Milevsky did a study in 2001, which he revised in 2007, and determined that borrowers are better off going with a variable rate mortgage instead of a fixed rate mortgage approximately 9 times out of 10. That said, we have to be close to if not already in that 10% sweet spot where fixed beats variable.
Despite the opportunity to lock in low rates today, it could actually be beneficial for the average Canadian for rates to rise. Conditions need to warrant rate increases and the Bank of Canada (which directly governs the prime rate) and the bond market (which indirectly governs fixed mortgage rates) won’t raise rates until the time is right. How soon that time comes depends partially on domestic influences, but also on our neighbours to the south and the current eurozone debt debacle.
Greece is a perfect example of why rates should rise. Greek participation in the European Union gave them access to cheap credit and helped facilitate some of the excess spending that has them where they are today. Despite bond markets demanding higher interest rates on Greek and some other European government bonds, market intervention by the EU has helped keep rates artificially low.
The U.S. Federal Reserve has been doing the same thing, buying up U.S. government treasury bills to keep U.S. rates artificially low as well.
It’s hard to justify how artificially low interest rates for an extended period are good for anything other than delaying the inevitable for some market participants.
Higher rates would have a negative impact on those of us with outstanding debt, as higher interest charges would follow. But Canadian debt levels have moved ever higher in recent years, likely a response to the low rates that have been in place in part to stimulate spending. Higher mortgage rates could protect us from ourselves by making higher debt levels more punitive and less tempting.
Furthermore, fixed income investors could benefit. The emphasis on “could” is key. Rising rates typically hurt those holding bonds because today’s bonds are that much more appealing than yesterday’s as rates go up. How much the hurt hurts is a matter of fact. But those renewing GICs or sitting on cash these days are desperately awaiting higher interest rates to help their savings grow. So higher rates could at least lead to higher returns for fixed income investors in some cases.
Higher rates could benefit stock investors. Once again, the emphasis on “could” is key. Higher rates usually mean the economy is improving and inflation is rising. This could be a good sign that corporate profits and corresponding stock prices are moving higher. That said, one has to wonder if low bond and GIC interest rates and cheap credit have pushed more money into the stock market than should otherwise be there. Rising rates could bring income investors back to the more traditional income investments like bonds and GICs from the blue chip stocks they’ve potentially flocked to in order to obtain yield.
Despite the purported uncertainty above on stocks and bonds, higher rates should at least contribute somewhat to restoring equilibrium to credit, debt and equity markets. Something seems wrong with near zero or negative real interest rates. That is, something seems wrong with a GIC investor earning 2%, paying 1% of that away in tax and 2% inflation resulting in an effective return of -1%. On that basis, something seems right about higher interest rates, whether we like it or not. What happens to mortgage debt, stocks and bonds remains to be seen.
Jason Heath is a fee-only Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and income tax professional for Objective Financial Partners Inc. in Toronto.
Still time to get a rate hold at the old rates if you hop to it.
The banks 2.99% four-year fixed promotions were intended to last until February 29. RBC and others have cancelled them early.
The nation’s banks rates are now:
- 4-year fixed “special offer” by 40 bps to 3.39% – ours is at 2.99% – live deals only, closing in 30 days or less
- 5-year fixed “special offer” by 10 bps to 4.04% – ours is at 3.09% / 3.25% – live deals only, close in 30 days or less
- 5-year fixed posted rate by 10 bps to 5.24% – ours is at 3.29%, 120 day rate hold
Some quick points on these changes:
- Other major banks are expected to match some or all of RBC’s rate increases.
- For just 10-20 bps more (i.e., 3.09-3.19%) you can find several brokers offering 5-year fixed mortgages. That’s a reasonable premium for one extra year of rate protection.
- RBC’s 4.04% five-year “special offer” is almost a full point above 5-year fixed rates on the street. No one other than the most novice mortgage shoppers take this rate seriously.
- RBC spokesman Matt Gierasimczuk attributed today’s rate increases to this:
“Our long-term funding costs have gone up considerably due to global economic concerns and, while we have held off in passing on these rate changes to our clients, it is now necessary for us to increase this mortgage rate.” (Source: Bloomberg)
- We can find nothing to suggest RBC’s 4-year fixed funding cost rose 40 basis points since mid-January. It has among the lowest cost of capital in Canada and other lenders have recently launched new 2.99% four-year specials of their own (one of them today). That is some pretty bad spin they are trying to put on.
- The Globe and Mail quotes sources who say that regulators were unhappy with the “price war” that followed BMO’s 2.99% five-year special. That may be somewhat linked to this announcement, hints the article. The government is clearly worried that low rates may incite borrowing and inflate the debt balloon further.
Hi All – many people ask how we know that rates are going to change ahead of time. Below is a sample of the data that we read on a daily basis. If you were motivated enough to read things like this every day – or figure them out for yourself – then you would know too. Or, just let a mortgage broker do it.
Bond yields today are roughly where they were a week ago but there has been plenty of volatility over the intervening period.
Last week yields were pushed higher by in-line or better than expected economic data in Canada (Manufacturing Sales Growth, Trade Balance) and the US (Retail Sales Growth, Initial and Continuing Jobless Claims, Trade Balance), together with a sense of optimism that the European debt crisis will be resolved and/or that concerted steps there would be taken to protect the banking system.
Generally speaking, “good” economic news tends to push bond yields higher as market participants are less interested in the safety bonds provide.
Notwithstanding last week’s developments, yields have come back down today as worse than expected economic data in the US and a clarification from Germany that a once-and-for-all solution to Europe’s debt crisis will not be forthcoming and that markets should expect such crisis to extend into next year.
In all, these developments present the global economy in better shape than what we thought at the start of the week, and the rise in rates reflects that change.
This last blip in the stock market has taken the wind out of the world’s recovery sails. It now looks like rates are going to stay the same or go DOWN!?! for the 12 months or so.
The USA has said for the 1st time ever that they are not going to change their rates until 2013. They have never given a date in the past and this IS a big deal. It means that Canadian rates are going to have to track closely to the USA rates or our dollar will skyrocket and quickly slow our growth and path to recovery.
That would mean that while fixed rates have NEVER been better in 111-years, variable rates are also super attractive because Prime (P) will now stay close to 3% (where it is today) and the rate of P-8% = 2.2% for a mortgage is CRAZY low now that we know it is going to stay around there for 2 more years!
Call to discuss if you have any questions on this. 403-681-4376: Mark
A 180 Degree Change in Rate Views
- 46% probability of a rate cut Sept. 7.
- 100% probability of a rate cut by year-end.
That amounts to a 180 degree swing in market psychology. Just a few weeks ago traders were pricing in a rate hike by January.
“As we’ve seen, markets can swing and perception can swing quite aggressively, and we could well be back to a fall expectation [of a rate hike] in a month’s time,” said RBC economist Eric Lascelles to the Globe & Mail.
Lascelles counterpart at Scotiabank, Derek Holt, says: “Any talk of the Bank of Canada hiking this year is just foolish in my opinion.”
Peter Gibson, chief portfolio strategist at CIBC World Markets notes: “I think it’s clear that there are a lot of serious problems still in the world and it’s more likely that we’re setting the stage for a sustainably low level of interest rates for a very long time.”
And that is the takeaway here.
Despite the roller coaster of emotions as of late, this about-face in rate assumptions reminds us of the necessity to focus on long-term trends. Long-term, North America’s prognosis still seems compatible with low-growth and low-inflation. That’s an environment where fixed mortgage rates typically underperform.
This is good news for people in variable rates AND fixed rates.
It all means that mortgage rates are going to stay low for longer than expected. Prime will stay lower longer partly because the US has for the 1st time said that they will leave the very low rates until 2013 to give the market something solid to work from.
That will also cause the fixed rates to stay lower, longer.
Good news all around.
By Ka Yan Ng
TORONTO (Reuters) – A dovish U.S. Federal Reserve will likely force the Bank of Canada to keep its interest rates lower for longer, but market bets on a Canadian rate cut by year-end are unlikely to pay off.
Analysts said a rate cut would send all the wrong signals for an economy that is growing, albeit slowly, and could hurt the central bank’s credibility.
“In the current situation, a rate cut by the Bank of Canada would mean that you have a second recession in Canada,” said , Charles St-Arnaud, Canadian economist and currency strategist at Nomura Securities International in New York.
“And that’s not something that we see happening.”
Expectations for Canadian interest rates have swung wildly in recent weeks. As recently as July 19 traders priced in higher expectations of a rate increase this year, following unexpectedly hawkish language from the Bank of Canada.
A July 20 survey of primary dealers showed most saw a rate hike in September or October.
But tightening expectations fell sharply as the U.S. debt ceiling debate and the downgrading of the U.S. credit rating by Standard & Poor’s fueled fears of a recession there, triggering some of the worst stock market selloffs since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.
Canadian overnight index swaps, which trade based on expectations for the Bank of Canada’s key policy rate, and short-dated government debt began to show expectations of a rate cut rather than an increase.
The Canadian dollar also fell more than a nickel against the greenback as the outlook for monetary policy moved from tightening to easing.
Rate cut expectations were reinforced by the U.S. Federal Reserve’s unprecedented announcement on Tuesday that it would likely keep rates near zero for another two years.
Analysts said the Bank of Canada is likely to keep interest rates lower for longer than previously expected because of the Fed move. One issue is that widening the rate differential between the two countries could cause an unwelcome appreciation in the Canadian dollar.
But they caution that swap markets, which are pricing in a quarter-point rate cut before year end, have it wrong.
Analysts said a cut is not needed because the Canadian economy, though highly dependent on the big U.S. market, is still growing. The central bank’s key policy rate, currently at 1.0 percent, is also seen as still being very accommodative. The rate was cut to a record low of 0.25 percent after the financial crisis.
HOUSING, RISK TO CONFIDENCE FACTORS
Those emergency rates provided conditions for the domestic housing market to surge to bubble-like proportions in some parts of the country, and allowed Canadians to take on massive personal debt loads.
Analysts said a rate cut could reignite these two segments of the economy, risks that have already been flagged by the central bank.
“The bank is going to need a lot more evidence that the downside risks are going to stick with us before they totally rewrite their script from the last statement and move toward outright easing,” said Derek Holt, an economist at Scotia Capital, noting that dovish language would inevitably have to accompany a decrease in the central bank’s key rate.
“That would be a blow to business and consumer confidence in the country as opposed to the more supportive role, which would be essentially to just stay off on the sidelines and not do anything on rates for a long time yet.”
Holt is already the most bearish among Canada’s 12 primary dealers — institutions that deal directly with the central bank as it carries out monetary policy — and is comfortable with his call that the next rate hike will be in the second quarter next year.
If anything, it could be later, “if the Fed is true to its word in terms of maintaining stimulative policy all of next year and into 2013,” he said.
Analysts said the risk of a rate cut is now more likely than an increase, given Canada’s trading ties to the United States and the risk that a recession there would also pull Canada’s economy lower.
“It is probably appropriate to price in some risk of the next move by the BoC being more a cut than a hike, just at this stage,” said Michael Gregory, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.
“But I think that fades within six months and you start to believe that is going to skew to the next risk being a hike rather than a cut.”