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Loonie Spikes After Canadian Core Inflation Soars To 10-Year Highs

Loonie Spikes After Canadian Core Inflation Soars To 10-Year Highs

Canadian inflation rose faster than expected in May across all eight major components, spiking the Loonie as it supports the BoC’s view that ‘the North’ is emerging from its growth slowdown (and Poloz argument that rates will need to go higher).

The headline consumer price index jumped 2.4% from a year earlier, compared with 2% in April and versus a median economist forecast of 2.1%, Statistics Canada said Wednesday from Ottawa. It was the highest annual rate since October, boosted by increases in food and durable goods prices.

Core inflation, closely watched by policy makers, surged, with the average of the three key measures rising to 2.07%, the highest since February 2012.

The largest upside contributor to CPI on an annual basis was shelter costs, which rose 2.7%. Food and transportation were also major drivers.

And the Trimmed Mean inflation print jumped 2.3% YoY – the highest since March 2009

Spiking the Loonie…

Presumably, BoC does not believe this spike is “transitory”.

Bankrupt, Eh? Insolvency Filings Soar In Almost All Canadian Provinces

The pronounced aftershock from what would historically be considered as very mild interest rate hikes in Canada is continuing.

Bloomberg reported that the number of consumers seeking debt relief was up 5.1% to 11,320 in November, according to the Ottawa-based Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy. Combining October and November’s numbers, there were 22,961 consumer insolvency filings, the most since 2011.

These new numbers come on the heels of the bank of Canada raising its key lending rate five times since the middle of 2017. Like in the US, the impact of rising rates on the economy is being “monitored closely”, which is a nice way to say “obsessed over by central banks in order to continue to force all asset classes to rise in price”.

Insolvency filings were up in every province except PEI, which was unchanged. Alberta saw insolvencies rise 16%. Filings in Ontario were estimated to have risen 1% in 2018 after declining for eight straight years. Insolvency firm Hoyes, Michalos & Associates Inc. estimates that Ontario will see a minimum of a 2% to 5% jump in insolvency filings in 2019. If rates continue to rise, they predict as much as an 8% jump.

66% of Ontario’s insolvency filings were consumer proposals, which is reportedly the highest year on record. You can view the country’s total insolvencies for November 2018 in the chart below.

We had previously offered a preview of this inevitable increase after October’s insolvency numbers also grew.

Chantal Gingras, chair of the Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals stated in early December:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

No “Poloz Put?” Ignore BoC Warning At Your Peril

No “Poloz Put?” Ignore BoC Warning At Your Peril

Governor Stephen Poloz’s warning last week that the Bank of Canada wouldn’t backstop fluctuating stock markets drew little attention.

“Is there a Poloz Put?” the central bank head asked rhetorically. “No.”

At first glance, the fact that only one BNN Bloomberg producer and a few smaller media picked up the story is hardly surprising.

Canada is a mere bit player in global central banking and financial markets, and the opinions of any Canadian official generally carry little weight outside of local circles.

However, in December 2017 Poloz provided investors a similar warning about Bitcoin, then trading near its all-time high, but which subsequently fell by more than 80%.

Investors would thus be foolish to ignore him now.

Consider:

One of the Fed’s main policy tools

First, a little background. The idea that governments are key drivers of stock prices may appear ludicrous to those who believe that Western economies are free markets.

However, as Moody Analytics notes, higher asset prices and resulting wealth effects are one of the Federal Reserve’s main policy tools for achieving its inflation and economic growth targets.

For U.S. stock traders operating today, most of whom have never seen a crisis that government hasn’t bailed them out of, the Fed’s most important manipulation is the existence of a tacit “put,” which ensures that asset prices won’t fall too far.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen all intervened to boost asset prices at key points when the heavily-indebted U.S. economy appeared set to implode.

The Bank of Canada’s policies are less overt. While the central bank claims that it “does not target asset prices,” asset price manipulation is clearly direct “collateral damage” resulting from its other policy objectives.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

For The First Time Ever, Bank Of Canada Buys Mortgage Bonds

Three weeks ago we reported that, the Bank of Canada announced for the first time that in order to prop up the sliding Canadian housing market help increase the tradeable float of its benchmark securities, the central bank would start buying government-backed mortgage bonds, also known as Canada Mortgage Bonds which are guaranteed by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

Well, it took less than a month for the BoC to execute on its intentions, because on Thursday, the central bank purchased Canada Housing Trust bonds for the first time ever, scooping up C$250 million ($187 million) of the federal agency’s C$5.5 billion five-year notes which priced today.

Canada Housing Trust, the special issuer of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.-backed debt, priced the 2.55% bonds due 2023 at a spread of 40.5 bps over comparable debt issued by the country’s federal treasury, National Bank Financial, the lead coordinator of the deal, said. The housing agency first offered these notes in September at a relatively narrow spread of only 31.5 basis points.

As we reported at the time, the Bank of Canada said in late November it would broaden the range of high quality assets it acquires to include purchases of government-guaranteed debt issued by federal Crown corporations. While the central bank said the expansion is “only for balance sheet management” and would give it added flexibility to offset the continued growth of bank notes, the cynical skeptics immediately accused the BoC of implicitly stepping in to prop up Canada’s deteriorating housing market.

The expansion, the BoC said, would also provide more freedom to reduce its participation in primary Canadian government bond auctions and help boost the tradeable float, supporting secondary market liquidity.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dear Canada, WTF?

Dear Canada, WTF?

Just hours ago, The Bank of Canada held rates steady and complained about various internal and external factors that were negatively impacting the Canadian economy…

Holding rates unchanged at 1.75%, the BOC cited almost everything that has gone wrong:

moderating global growth,
a “materially weaker” outlook for the oil sector,
a faster-than-expected deceleration of inflation,
a drop in business investment and downward historical revisions to output

And today we get this…

Canada added 94,100 jobs in November – the most ever! Sending the Canadian unemployment rate to a record low 5.6%…

So WTF!?

Loonie Slumps As Bank Of Canada Folds On Economic Enthusiasm

Amid near-record-low Canadian crude prices and a housing crisis, The Bank of Canada appears to have finally given up its narrative that ‘everything is awesome’.

The BoC walked back much of its enthusiasm about the nation’s outlook in a decision that kept interest rates unchanged, spinning bad news as good by saying that the economy may have “additional room for non-inflationary growth.” Of course, if the economy was growing faster, the BOC would simply say that the economy is growing… well, faster or “near potential.”

Instead, holding rates unchanged at 1.75%, the BOC cited almost everything that has gone wrong:

  • moderating global growth,
  • a “materially weaker” outlook for the oil sector,
  • a faster-than-expected deceleration of inflation,
  • a drop in business investment and downward historical revisions to output

Following the latest central bank dovish relent, the USDCAD jumped 0.8% to ~1.3374 after touching highest (i.e. the CAD dropping the most) in more than five months on the cautious language, a dovish outlook that could change expectations for 2019 BOC rate hikes.

Even with the dovish undertones, the statement reiterated that rates will need to rise to “neutral range” – which like the Fed it has no idea what it is – within its discussion of recent downside risks, to wit:

“Governing Council continues to judge that the policy interest rate will need to rise into a neutral range to achieve the inflation target.”

Still, the generally less-confident tone is an acknowledgement of developments over the past few weeks that have cast doubt on the strength of the nation’s expansion and prompted investors to scale back the expected pace of future rate increases.

The final nail in the hawkish case coffin was the key shift in tone (red rectangle below) which notes that while the Canadian economy growing in line with expectations, “data suggest less momentum going into the fourth quarter.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bank Of Canada To Start Buying Mortgage Bonds As Canadian Housing Market Cools

Ten years ago this week, the Federal Reserve announced it would start buying agency MBS. Asset purchases are now arguably a  standard non-standard monetary policy tool, as all three major central banks have since embarked in some form of asset purchases, and are currently in different stages of implementation.

And on Friday, the Bank of Canada became the latest to join the parade, when it announced for the first time plans to buy government-backed mortgage bonds in an attempt to boost its balance sheet and arguably, to stabilize Canada’s flagging housing market.

The move, part of a decision to include government-guaranteed debt issued by federal Crown corporations, will allow Canada’s central bank to offset continued growth in bank notes, the central bank said in an statement Friday. It will also give it flexibility to further reduce its participation at primary auctions of Canadian government bond “to help increase the tradeable float of those benchmark securities and hence support their secondary market liquidity.”

As part of this expansion, a “small portion” of its purchases will be Canada Mortgage Bonds, which are guaranteed by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.  Purchases of mortgage bonds will be conducted in the primary market starting later this year or early 2019, the central bank said. The key excerpt from Friday’s statement is blow:

As part of these changes the Bank plans to allocate a small portion of its balance sheet for acquiring federal government guaranteed securities by purchasing Canada Mortgage Bonds. These purchases will be conducted in the primary market, on a non-competitive basis, and are expected to commence in the latter part of 2018 or in the first half of 2019. The Bank will continue to adhere to its principles of neutrality, prudence and transparency and conduct its transactions in a manner that limits market distortions and minimizes impact on market prices.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Anatomy of the Housing Downturn in Vancouver, Canada

Anatomy of the Housing Downturn in Vancouver, Canada

It’s not pretty.

In 2018, “each month has brought weaker than normal sales, rising inventory, and continued downward pressure on prices” in Vancouver, British Columbia, writes Steve Saretsky, a Vancouver Realtor and publisher of real-estate blog, Vancity Condo Guide. The market faces another headwind: “With the Bank of Canada determined to reach a neutral rate of interest of between 2.5-3.5%, borrowing power continues to erode.”

The single-family price spike unwinds.

The hardest hit segment are single-family houses (“detached houses”). Sales volume in the city of Vancouver has dropped to 27-year lows for most months of the year. In October, sales plunged 32% year-over-year to 146 houses, the third worst October on record. The plunge in sales was first triggered by the imposition of a tax in August 2016 on nonresident foreign buyers – mostly investors living in China. This chart from The Saretsky Report shows sales volume in every October going back to 1991 (click to enlarge):

Inventory for sale of all types of homes combined – single-family, townhouse, and condo – in the city of Vancouver surged 24% year-over-year, “pushing prices lower across all property segments,” he writes. Within that group, townhouse inventory jumped 34% and condo inventory soared 74%.

But inventory of single-family houses edged down by 4%, to 1,556 listings, “primarily a result of sellers taking their house off the market and trying to wait out current conditions,” Saretsky writes. Given the decline in sales, months’ supply surged 35% to 10.7 months. “This has paved the way for buyers to negotiate steep discounts”:

We have now been in a weak detached housing market for over two years and as a result, price declines are becoming more noticeable and more significant. There is strong evidence from previous housing booms that volumes tend to lead prices by about two years, and for the most part that has been the case here in Vancouver.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Backlash Against War on Cash Reaches the Bank of Canada

Backlash Against War on Cash Reaches the Bank of Canada

A cashless society could have “adverse collective outcomes.”

In recent months, a slew of political and financial institutions have raised concerns about the march toward a cashless economy. They include:

  • The ECB warned that a phase-out of cash could pose a serious risk to the financial system. Depending too heavily on electronic payment systems could expose financial systems to catastrophic failures in the event of power outages or cyber attacks. The European Commission has also backed off is war on cash.
  • The People’s Bank of China announced that all businesses in China that are not e-commerce must resume accepting cash or risk being investigated, and cautioned businesses against hyping the “cashless” idea when promoting non-cash payments.
  • In Sweden, one of the most cashless societies, the central bank and parliament have spoken out in support of cash.
  • Cities too have spoken out, including Washington D.C., whose City Council introduced a bill that sought to ban restaurants and retailers from not accepting cash or charging a different price to customers depending on the method of payment they use.

Now, it’s the Bank of Canada’s turn to sound the alarm. In a paper — “Is a Cashless Society Problematic?” — it outlines a number of risks that could arise if the country went fully cashless.

The premise underpinning the analysis is that at some point in the future individuals and firms decide, of their own volition, to cease using cash altogether. In response, the central bank stops printing physical money because of the large fixed costs inherent in supplying bank notes.

In such a scenario, even though most individuals and firms freely choose to abandon cash, there could be “adverse collective outcomes,” the study warns.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Toxic Mix in Canada: Spiking Inflation, Variable-Rate Mortgages, and a Housing Bubble

Toxic Mix in Canada: Spiking Inflation, Variable-Rate Mortgages, and a Housing Bubble

What will the Bank of Canada do?

The Bank of Canada has nudged up its target rate four times, starting July a year ago, from 0.5% to 1.5%. It last hiked on July 11. But now it is facing inflation that suddenly and unexpectedly jumped at twice the Bank of Canada’s current target rate.

Canada’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 3.0% in July from a year earlier, the hottest since September 2011, Statistics Canada reported on Friday. Consensus expectation was a rise of 2.5%, same as in June.

Prices rose in all major components. Prices for services – the largest part of consumer spending – jumped 3.2% year over year, up from a 2.2% increase in June.

In most provinces, CPI ran even hotter:

  • Alberta : 3.5%
  • Prince Edward Island: 3.4%
  • Manitoba: 3.3%
  • British Columbia: 3.3%
  • Ontario: 3.1%
  • Saskatchewan: 3.1%
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 2.7%
  • Nova Scotia: 2.7%
  • New Brunswick: 2.7%
  • Quebec: 2.4:

But no problem.

Like the Fed and other central banks, the Bank of Canada has its “preferred” measures of inflation. And they’re a lot lower, of course. Which is the point. But unlike the Fed, it does not use a core index “without food and energy.” Instead, it has three measures (definitions) that have been statistically “trimmed:” CPI-trim, CPI-median and CPI-common.

Its stated goal is to keep inflation as measured by these three indices at the 2% midpoint of “an inflation-control range of 1% to 3%.” And this is how these three indices stacked up in July:

  • CPI-trim: 2.1%
  • CPI-median: 2.0%
  • CPI-common: 1.9%

Statistically trimming the hot items out of an index works miracles, though it makes this trimmed index even more meaningless to consumers because consumers, who live in the the real world, cannot trim those items out of their budgets quite so easily. So now, after a proper trimming of the index, the BOC is right on target.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bank of Canada Hikes Rates By 25bps, Loonie Rises On Hawkish Take

The Bank of Canada raised the overnight rate by 25bps to 1.5%, in line with consensus estimates.

In justifying the move, the Bank said it expects the global economy to grow by about 3.75% in 2018 and 3.5% in 2019, adding that the US economy is proving stronger than expected, reinforcing market expectations of higher policy rates and pushing up the US dollar. It warned that this is “contributing to financial stresses in some emerging market economies” suggesting that Canada was dragged into the rate hikes rather than welcoming it.

In other words, the BOC hopes that demand from the U.S. will trump the drag on trade from tariffs the two neighbors, as well as the uncertainty over the future of Nafta.

It also noted that while oil prices have risen, the Canadian dollar is lower, reflecting broad-based US dollar strength and concerns about trade actions, noting that “the possibility of more trade protectionism is the most important threat to global prospects.”

Perversely, even as the BOC hiked rates, it warned that household spending is “dampened by higher interest rates and tighter mortgage lending guidelines.”

Curiously, despite market concerns, the BOC raised its Q2 GDP forecast to 2.8% from 2.5% previously, with Q3 seen at 1.5%; The bank also raised the potential output growth to 1.8% in 2018, and 1.9% in 2019 and 2020.

Commenting on the ongoing trade war with the US, the BOC estimates US tariffs on steel and aluminium will reduce level of real Canadian exports by 0.6%, with the impact expected to be felt in H2 2018. Meanwhile, Canadian counter measures estimated to reduce real imports by 0.6% starting Q3, while tariffs will temporarily boost inflation in Q3 2019.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Misconception of Central Banks

QUESTION: Mr. Armstrong; I was at the Treasury Management Association of Canada (TMAC) conference in Vancouver when you appeared as a speaker as well as Peter Detallis of the Bank of Canada if I remember his name correctly. I was there at the cocktail party when the Finance Minister of Nova Scotia said you diminished the central bankers. They were right there as well and he did not know it. You introduced him to them. He was upset. I laughed at that. My question is why are you the exception to meet with central banks?

HWF

ANSWER: It should come as no surprise that I routinely argue against “demand-side” economics which justifies central banks manipulating demand by raising and lowering interest rates. It has never worked. That said, the Democrats vilified “supply-side” economics when Reagan lowered taxes. They vilified it calling it “trickle-down Economics.” They never actually explain the difference because they want to do as they desire and then expect the central banks to clean-up their mess from the fiscal mismanagement of the economy. That said, the conspiracy theorists blame the central banks for absolutely everything and assign no blame to the politicians for the fiscal side.

Consequently, it still took me some time to understand why the central banks would talk to me. They clearly knew I understood the real dynamics of the system as a whole with both the fiscal and monetary side in addition to Demand v Supply-side Economics. They also knew I lived in the real world community and was one of the few true international advisers. The difference is I really had some $3 trillion under contract which was about 50% of the US National Debt at the time. They knew I spoke with real-life experience – not theory. That was even part of the Congressional record when I testifiedbefore the House Ways & Means Committee.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Making Sense of The Federal Reserve

I was given a lecture in Toronto to our institutional clients years ago and the central bank of Canada came with ten people. It was an interesting session because the audience began to ask me questions about what the central banks were looking at to make their decisions. I would answer and then the audience would immediately turn to see their response. It was a really fascinating session that turned me into this quasi-spokesperson for the central banks. I would respond and usually swat down these absurd theories one after another. The head of the Bank of Canada I knew well and the whole table was unbelievable poker-players. They never flinched nor did you get any read from any body language. When it was over, I went up to them and apologized saying I hoped I did not insult them in any way. They reply was astounding: “Marty, I only wish I could tell these fools we do not look at this stuff!”

People attribute the central banks will also sort of theories you would think they were the all-powerful demigods of finance. Decoding what a central bank says is very important. Yet I find all the commentary to be so off the mark it is laughable. The new word the Fed likes to use is its increasing reliance on “transitory” factors to explain the past six-year problem of being unable to reach the Fed’s 2% inflation target. They explain the failure with “transitory price changes” in some components such as health care and financial services. That was in their minutes from the May 1-2, 2018 meeting. When you look closely, price changes become “transitory” on the downside as well as “transitory”when they move on the upside. Indeed, they love to explain trends as “transitory” for that avoids any permanent trend forecast.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Canadian Banks See Mortgage Growth Stall As Interest Rates Rise

As anybody who was around for the housing collapse will remember, nothing bursts a bubble in home prices faster than rising mortgage rates. And while US home prices have surpassed their pre-crisis peak, Canadian home prices have risen much more quickly than home prices in the US, and what’s more, they didn’t see nearly as large of a pullback during the crisis.

Housing

Instead, they’ve ridden a wave of hot foreign money to all time highs…

Canada

…in the process, leaving housing and construction as one of the focal points of the Canadian economy.

But in the latest sign that home prices could be due for a pullback, Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank reported that mortgage lending fell sharply during the fiscal second quarter, compared with a year earlier.

However, a spike in business lending has helped soften the blow to the bank’s bottom line.

But yields on 10-year Canadian bonds have moved higher since the end of last quarter, meaning mortgages would be more expensive now than then.

Business

One analyst said it’s good that the banks are finding more business customers, because with the Bank of Canada and the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, Canadian banks shouldn’t rely on growth from the consumer end.

“It’s really a favorable macro-economic environment in Canada and the U.S. right now that’s driving really healthy business demand,” Shannon Stemm, an analyst with Edward Jones & Co., said in a phone interview.

“It’s a smart pivot for some of these banks to really focus in on their efforts on the business side when you think about the looming risks and the fact that they’re potentially not getting credit for the growth on the consumer side.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BoC: 8% Of Canadian Households Owe More Than 20% Of The $2.1 Trillion In Debt

BoC: 8% Of Canadian Households Owe More Than 20% Of The $2.1 Trillion In Debt

BoC - 8% of Households Owe More Than 20% of The $2 Trillion In Canadian Debt
Canadian real estate debt hit a new high, and the news gets worse as they explain it further. The Bank of Canada (BoC) updated household debt numbers for March. In a speech this week, BoC’s Governor Stephen Poloz also gave further insights on the numbers. The record debt levels are concentrated in a smaller segment of Canadians. These Canadians are now in a “highly vulnerable” position, and they’re f**ked if they don’t start preparing for higher rates now.

8% Of Canadians Have Mortgage Debt Over 3.5x What They Make

In a speech this week, the BoC gave us further insights on the Canadian debt problem, and it’s worse than we thought. It turns out 8% of households have mortgage debt that’s more than 350% of their gross income. This segment of borrower represents “a bit more than 20 percent of total household debt.” BoC Governor Poloz stressed that these households need to understand how “personally vulnerable” they are, as rates rise.

Rising rates are already putting the pinch on households, and it should get worse. The BoC reiterated the “neutral rate,” which is the rate where policy is no longer expansionary, is between 2.5% and 3.5%. Assuming no “shock” to the economy, rates will get there. Currently we’re at 1.25%, so that would mean rates will double over the next few years. You know, if we don’t face a major recession. Then you’re in the clear on rates, but a whole other bag of issues will crop up. On that note, onto those climbing debt numbers.

Canadian Households Owe More Than $2.1 Trillion Dollars

Total household debt hit a new record, but the annual pace of growth continued to decline. The total balance at the end of March stood at a whopping $2.129 trillion, up $3.4 billion from the month before. The annual rate of growth is now 5.25%.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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