Following are the highlights from a telephone conversation with Jean-Francois Perrault, Chief Economist Scotiabank and John Webster, President and CEO Scotia Mortgage Corporation which took place on Thursday, April 9, 2020 at 4:30 p.m.
First, it’s not all bad news. While I’ll have to include some unpleasant information in order to provide a complete picture, that is not the focus.
There’s a document floating around the internet from Goldman Sachs. Have you seen it? It’s a private client summary regarding the coronavirus. 1,500 companies dialed in to this call.
For the record, Goldman Sachs has said the summary text was not authorized by them and it contains erroneous information which was not used during the call. Still, there seems to be a consistent message here. I wanted to share this with everyone because I do believe in much of what is being said. Have a read. It’s a summary but a bit lengthy. I strongly recommend reading the entire summary as the message in the end is positive and is in line with historically recovery patterns.
Whenever there’s speculation that the Bank of Canada (BoC) will raise its key interest rate – or rates actually rise – many people are preoccupied worrying about locking in if they have a variable rate or renewing early in a fixed rate.
But, don’t panic! Rates aren’t going through the roof.
Remember all those pessimists who were calling for a housing bubble or collapse?
If you listened to them and rented for the past eight years, how much would you have lost? How much would your rent have increased since then? And would you still be able to rent that condo or house… or would your landlord possibly have plans to sell it and leave you out in the cold?
We used to expect an economic slowdown or recession every five years. But something happened after the last big recession in 1990. Since then, there has really only been one recession: in 2009.
This came off the heels of the infamous US subprime mortgage crisis that crippled most of the world’s economies for years. Yet, in Canada, we got off relatively easy. Our slowdown lasted less than a year.
Yesterday, Bank of Canada (BoC) Governor, Stephen Poloz, left rates unchanged. This kept the bank prime rate at 3.45%.
This also, indirectly, affects fixed mortgage rates. Great news for anyone with a mortgage. Go ahead, it’s okay to feel good about paying a low interest rate on what’s probably the biggest debt of your life!
ARE ECONOMISTS RIGHT?
For months we’ve heard economists forecasting 2-4 BoC rate hikes for 2018. So far, we’ve had one increase – in January. Should we be expecting three more increases? Only time will tell, since the BoC raises its rate when inflation rises above the target inflation rate… currently the range is between 1% and 3%, and sits at an acceptable 2.10%. Some believe inflation has increased temporarily, in part, due to increased minimum wage.
Rates have been rising gradually over the past six months following several years of historically-low rates. There should be no surprise that rates are rising – it was bound to happen. But, we can be thankful they’re not predicted to spike. It’s much easier to deal with – and plan for – gradual increases.
Benjamin Tal, Deputy Chief Economist of CIBC World Markets Inc, spoke last week about his predictions for rates and a bunch of other economic indicators. I’ve been following him for 15 years now. He’s one of the few economists whom I respect, as his forecasts have proven very accurate. So, let’s pay attention!
The article pointed to a semi-annual report that is put out by the Bank of Canada entitled, Financial System Review December 2014. That headline is an attention grabber.. And like most media headlines, it’s not the full story. In fact, it’s not an accurate reflection of what the Bank of Canada report had to say. If you look at Stephen Poloz’s (Bank of Canada Governor) comments, he says “there is some risk that the housing market is overvalued, and our estimates fall in the 10 to 30 per cent range”.
Ever notice how all economic news is bad? Seriously, when was the last time you heard Canadians were doing well, financially? Even when we came out of the October 2008 U.S. sub-prime mortgage crisis (notice I’m very specific about the cause of that recession) with flying colours, we kept seeing the same negative messages about how lucky we were to come out of this as strong as we did.
But here we are, 5 years later (hard to believe it’s been 5 years) and all we keep hearing and reading is how the economy is fragile… the housing bubble is coming… personal debt levels are at record highs… housing affordability index has increased (this measures how much of your income is used for housing)… This all sounds terrible and depressing.. maybe we should sell everything, move to another country and herd sheep? Continue reading “Rising personal debt levels.. but how about rising asset levels?”
Last week, we had the privilege of listening to Ben Tal, Senior Economist with CIBC. He said we can expect rate hikes of between 1.00% to 3.00% over the next 2 years… but he also said that there is no straight line when it comes to interest rate hikes… so we will see staggered rate movement… Mr. Tal said that he does not see the need for anything above this given that the motivation for any rate hikes by the Bank of Canada is slow the economy and keep inflation in check.
There were 4 charts in particular that caught my eye..
3-Size of Average Mortgage on the rise… this chart shows that while more Canadian own their homes without mortgages, the mortgage size has increased and this should be monitored and reviewed…
4-Hosing Affordability…. saving my favorite for last… I’m a big believer in tailoring the mortgage around your affordability.. and this chart shows us that on average, we have a lot of capacity when it comes to absorbing interest rate hikes… this is a chart that should make all Canadians feel good..