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Toronto Home Prices Just Plunged At A Rate Not Seen Since 1996

A seismic shift is currently underway in the Toronto real estate market which may have finally pricked Canada’s biggest bubble. In October, home prices plunged at the fastest pace in more than two decades, according to new data published by Statistics Canada.

Statistics Canada’s Price Index for new Toronto homes declined 1.4% in October from a year earlier, the most since September 1996. Across all provinces and territories, home prices increased 0.1%, the slowest pace since 2010, which signals the country’s real estate market has stalled and could reverse into 2020.

The pace of new home construction crashed by a massive 40.3% in the Greater Toronto Area between October 2017 and October 2018.

Bloomberg describes the turning point in the real estate market as a result of government measures, introduced in 2017 to help cool the city’s red-hot housing market, such as tighter mortgage lending laws.

“The Bank of Canada also raised its trend-setting interest rate five times between July 2017 and October of this year,” notes Bloomberg.

“New home prices were advancing at an annual pace of almost 4% late last year before the mortgage rules took effect.”

Further, the current economic backdrop suggests storm clouds are gathering across the country. Last week, the Canadian 2 and five year bond yields inverted, for the first time since 2007.

“This is often taken as a signal that investors are more optimistic about short-term prospects versus the long term, suggesting a lack of confidence in continued economic growth. This can also impact bank profitability, as banks pay short-term rates on deposits and take in long-term rates on loans. A flat or inverted yield curve, therefore, could lead to negative net interest margins,” said Steve Saretsky of VancityCondoGuide.

As Saretsky shows, this can cause bank lending to further tighten, leaving borrowers high and dry when market liquidity is most needed.

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

“We Made Mistakes”: France Changes Tone On Yellow Vests As Movement Hits Canada

The Macron government has changed its tone after five straight weeks of violent “Yellow Vest” demonstrations across the country.

On Sunday Prime Minister Édouard Philippe admitted to Les Echoes newspaper that mistakes were made in the handling of the protests, and that a dialogue is needed.

We made mistakes. We did not listen enough to the French people. I remain convinced that they want this country to be transformed,” said Philippe.

Protesters donning yellow reflective jackets began filling the streets across France on November 17 – initially in protest to a fuel tax aimed at combating global warming – and morphing into a country-wide rebuke of the Macron government.  There have been seven deaths, over 4,500 arrests and hundreds of injuries during the demonstrations – as protesters smashed store windows, looted, set fire to vehicles and defaced statues. In addition to a massive presence, Police have responded to the protests with tear gas and pepper spray to try and disperse crowds.

In early December Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called the economic impact of the protests a “catastrophe,”

Meanwhile, the Yellow Vest protests have spread to multiple European countries – most notably the Netherlands and Belgium, while also spreading to Israel, Iraq and now Canada.

Yellow Vest protesters and counter-protesters were seen last weekend in several Canadian cities, including Toronto, Calgary, Halifax, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Moncton.

“I have never met even one Canadian that understands how a carbon tax is going to reduce carbon emissions,” said protester James Hoskins to CTV Atlantic. Another Canadian Yellow Vest, Barry Ahern, called Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s summer grant program “oppression of Canadians by our own people.” The program has been criticized for requiring organizations applying for summer job grants to sign an “attestation” confirming that they respect LGBT and abortion rights.

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

US Commits To “Indefinite” Occupation Of Syria; Controls Region The Size Of Croatia

“We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation” — a Syrian resident in US-controlled Raqqa told Stars and Stripes military newspaper. This as the Washington Post noted this week that “U.S. troops will now stay in Syria indefinitely, controlling a third of the country and facing peril on many fronts.”

US forces in Syria, via ABC News

Like the “forever war” in Afghanistan, will we be having the same discussion over the indefinite occupation of Syria stretching two decades from now? A new unusually frank assessment in Stars and Stripes bluntly lays out the basic facts concerning the White House decision to “stay the course” until the war’s close:

That decision puts U.S. troops in overall control, perhaps indefinitely, of an area comprising nearly a third of Syria, a vast expanse of mostly desert terrain roughly the size of Louisiana.

The Pentagon does not say how many troops are there. Officially, they number 503, but earlier this year an official let slip that the true number may be closer to 4,000.

A prior New Yorker piece described the US-occupied area east of the Euphrates as “an area about the size of Croatia.” With no Congressional vote, no public debate, and not even so much as an official presidential address to the nation, the United States is settling in for another endless occupation of sovereign foreign soil while relying on the now very familiar post-911 AUMF fig leaf of “legality”.

Like the American public and even some Pentagon officials of late have been pointing out for years regarding Afghanistan, do US forces on the ground even know what the mission is? The mission may be undefined and remain ambiguously to “counter Iran”, yet the dangers and potential for major loss in blood and treasure loom larger than ever.

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

Leaked Memo Touts UK-Funded Firm’s Ability To Create “Untraceable” News Sites For “Infowar Campaign”

The hacking collective known as “Anonymous” has published more explosive documents detailing a UK-based psyop to create a “large-scale information secret service” in Europe in order to combat “Russian propaganda”  which has been blamed for everything from Brexit to Trump winning the 2016 US election to this month’s anti-Macron “Yellow Vest” protests.

We previously detailed the first trove of documents which were dumped online November 5th to the site Cyberguerilla, revealing the private UK organization with deep government ties, the Integrity Initiative, to be engaged in an aggressive campaign to organize “clusters” of journalists across the West engaged in “counter-propaganda” efforts on social media networks and in media. And now a new trove of leaked Integrity Initiative documents has been dumped online Friday.

“Combatting Russian Disinformation” – Screenshot from a bombshell newly leaked document published Friday and hosted on the Cyberguerilla site.
This week the Integrity Initiative and its founding parent organization, the Institute for Statecraft — which is known for its close relationship with the UK military and defense officials — is at the center of debate in the House of Commons over its anti-Corbyn and anti-Labour smears involving labeling party leader Jeremy Corbyn a “useful idiot” for Moscow, even while the company is a recipient of official Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) funding.
The early November online leaks of confidential Integrity Initiative documents were the first to reveal the UK government’s relationship to the private project devoted to “fighting Russian disinformation”. According to The Guardian:

FCO funding of the Integrity Initiative was revealed by a set of stolen documents posted online last month by hackers under the banner of the Anonymous hacktivist collective.

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

French Police Brace for Fifth Wave of Yellow Vest Protests

France is set to deploy tens of thousands of police and gendarmes across the country on Saturday, including 8,000 in Paris, to deal with a fifth weekend of Yellow Vest protests – just days after three people were killed and 13 injured after a mass shooting in the eastern city of Strasbourg.

Paris police chief Michel Delpuech said authorities are on watch for “violent groups” infiltrating the protests, and that riot officers will protect landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe and the presidential palace, reports Reuters.

We need to be prepared for worst-case scenarios,” Delpuech told RTL radio, who added that he doesn’t expect businesses in the capital to suffer the same level of disruption as they have over the past three weeks, when major stores and hotels suffered a dramatic drop in business as tourists avoided the area.

This weekend’s Yellow Vest protests, nicknamed “Acte V” – mark the fifth week of anti-government outrage which began over opposition to an announced fuel-tax designed to pay for climate change policies.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said it was time for the Yellow Vests to tone down their protests and acknowledge that they had achieved their goals after French President Emmanuel Macron rolled out a series of economic and tax incentives, including a minimum wage hike, no tax on overtime pay, tax-free year-end bonuses, and a six month delay to the fuel tax.

While most French people polled by Odoxa said they found Macron’s proposal “satisfactory,” 59% of those polled say they were “not convinced” by the measures.

54% of those surveyed said the Yellow Vest protests should continue.

Many of the Yellow Vests have flat-out rejected Macron’s proposals, according to European-Views.

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

Why The Collapsing Chinese Credit Impulse Is All That Matters

Back in June 2017, we wrote that if one had to follow just one macro indicator that impacts virtually every aspect of the global economy, that would be the Chinese credit impulse. Not surprisingly, the article was titled “Why The (Collapsing) Credit Impulse Is All That Matters.”

Today, almost a year and a half later, the world is once again on the verge of a recession, with China – whose recent economic data has been on the verge of disaster – closely watched as the spark that could light the next global economic and financial conflagration. And not surprisingly, it is again all about the Chinese credit impulse, which – it should come as no surprise – has dropped to just shy of a fresh post-crisis low (note how it was China’s record credit impulse burst in 2009 that dragged the world out of a global recession).

So with attention focusing on China, Nomura’s Ting Lu’s this morning reiterates his view on the sequencing of China’s economic data, and expects the front-loading of exports to continue over the 90-day truce period, which will help support production in December however this benefit will be somewhat offset by weakening external demand, and thereafter into 1H19 (esp Q2), data will show significant slowdown, as the pull-forward around the tariff front-loading will fade in conjunction with the negative impacts of the cooling housing sector and the overall credit down-cycle.

As a result, Ting believes it will be in 2Q19 when Beijing is forced to escalate policy easing/stimulus measures as the data negativity hits “breaking point,” with RRR cuts, infrastructure spending, VaT cuts, RMB depreciation and deregulation in large city property sectors, which will eventually drive a bottoming-out in the data thereafter.

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

 

“It Tells People: Don’t Worry” – Saudi Stock Market Plunge Protection Team Exposed

In politics, “when it gets serious, you have to lie.”

In the increasingly intermingled worlds of geopolitics and financials markets, when it get serious, you have to rescue your nation’s stocks…

America’s Plunge Protection Team has been a long-standing feature behind the scenes since Greenspan (some even think it has been around since 1944), ready as equity market buyer of last resort (and even getting subsidies for doing so from the exchanges).

See any number of magical and sudden reversals from 2008/9 and 2014USA Today finally realizes, fundamentals don’t matter anymore…

2015… The rescue bid arrives…

in dramatic size!!

But America’s lessons have spread.

China’s National Team is more erratic, sporadic, and definitely less successful.

But is nevertheless conspicuous in its sudden panic-buying sprees when Shanghai Composite nears critical levels (or economic strength needs to be projected domestically or otherwise).

For instance, this week…as China begins to fold on its strong-man trade war tactics…

And now, amid the current crisis of confidence in The Kingdom, The Wall Street Journal has exposed Saudi Arabia’s stock market rescue squad

The Journal pulls no punches in turning the conspiracy theory into conspiracy fact, noting that the government of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has spent billions to counter selloffs in recent months.

According to a Wall Street Journal analysis of trading data and interviews with multiple people with direct knowledge of government intervention efforts, the Saudi government has placed huge buy orders, often in the closing minutes of negative trading days, to boost the market.

…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…

Saudis Reportedly Target US Inventories By Slashing Oil Exports

WTI prices briefly popped above $52 before fading quickly after Bloomberg reported that after flooding the US market in recent months, Saudi Arabia plans to slash exports starting in January in an effort to dampen visible build-ups in crude inventories.

Bloomberg reports that, according to people briefed on the plans of state oil company Saudi Aramco, American-based oil refiners have been told to expect much lower shipments from the kingdom in January than in recent months following the OPEC agreement to reduce production.

Oil traders were not that impressed…

And while the plan to slash Saudi exports to America may ultimately convince a skeptical oil market about the kingdom’s resolution to bring supply and demand incline, it may anger President Trump, who has used social media to ask the Saudis and OPEC to keep the taps open.


Hopefully OPEC will be keeping oil flows as is, not restricted. The World does nott want to see, or need, higher oil prices!


ECB Confirms It Will End Asset Purchases, Will Reinvest Maturities In Full

As expected, the ECB – which obviously is keeping its rates unchanged – confirmed it would end its asset purchases in December 2018, while clarifying for the first time that it would “continue reinvesting, in full, the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the APP for an extended period of time past the date when it starts raising the key ECB interest rates.” Previously, the ECB had only committed to reinvesting “for an extended period after the end of QE.”

Also of note, the ECB announced it “expects interest rates to remain at their present levels at least through the summer of 2019” which however the market no longer believes, having priced out a full rate hike in 2019.

In any case look for more clarity in 45 minutes when Draghi speaks.

Full statement below:

At today’s meeting the Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) decided that the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.40% respectively. The Governing Council expects the key ECB interest rates to remain at their present levels at least through the summer of 2019, and in any case for as long as necessary to ensure the continued sustained convergence of inflation to levels that are below, but close to, 2% over the medium term.

Regarding non-standard monetary policy measures, the net purchases under the asset purchase programme (APP) will end in December 2018. At the same time, the Governing Council is enhancing its forward guidance on reinvestment. Accordingly, the Governing Council intends to continue reinvesting, in full…

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

“Stronghold Of Evil” – Russia Slams America’s Illegal Syrian Occupation

On Tuesday a top Russian military official slammed the United States for “illegally occupying” a massive zone in southwest Syriasurrounding the American garrison of al-Tanf, effectively protecting some 6,000 armed militants that Russia has designated terrorists.

The Head of Russia’s National Defense Control Center, Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, called the US-occupied area “the last stronghold of evil” which continues to fester with militants “on the territory of the independent state”. He identified a 55 km zone surrounding the base in a desert region along the Syrian-Iraq border, which American special forces and US-backed FSA groups have held since 2016 after taking the key crossing from ISIS.

American base in Syria

“Perhaps, only our American partners do not want to see up to date how much has been done to revive peaceful life in Syria. They are holding with incomprehensible stubbornness the occupied 55 km area around al-Tanf where 6,000 armed militants are on the loose and are preventing the disbanding of the Rukban refugee camp,” the general said at a Syrian-Russian inter-departmental coordination headquarters, according to TASS.

The Rukban camp falls withing the US-occupied perimeter and is home to between 50,000 and 60,000 refugees stuck near the desolate Jordanian and Iraqi frontier, especially after Jordan closed its side of the border in 2016. Russia has accused US forces of preventing humanitarian aid from reaching the camp, except through the mediation of armed groups operating in the area, with some militants based in the camp itself.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry asked previously this week: “Why do the US’ partners insist on joining the militants from illegal armed groups to render humanitarian aid and not give their consent to real assistance to those in need in Rukhan?” 

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

Beijing Threatens “Severe” Retaliation Against Canada If Huawei CFO Is Not Released

Canada’s extraordinary arrest one week ago of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei founder and billionaire executive Ren Zhengfei, and its decision to charge her with “multiple” counts of fraud – a preamble to her likely extradition to the US to face charges of knowingly violating US and EU sanctions on Iran – has elicited widespread anger in Beijing, which declared Meng’s detention a “violation of human rights” during a bail hearing for the jailed executive on Friday.

That anger has apparently only intensified after the hearing adjourned without a decision (it will resume on Monday, allowing Meng’s defense team to argue for why she should be released on bail, contrary to the wishes of government attorneys who are prosecuting the case).

Meng

And with Canada insisting that it will prosecute Meng to the full extent of the law over allegations that she mislead banks about the true relationship of a Huawei subsidiary called Skycom, angry Chinese officials have decided to issue an ultimatum directly to the Canadian ambassador, who was summoned to a meeting in Beijing on Saturday and told in no uncertain terms that Canada will face “severe consequences” if Meng isn’t released, according to the Wall Street Journal.

China’s foreign ministry publicized the warning in a statement (though Canadian officials have yet to comment):

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Canada’s ambassador to Beijing, John McCallum, on Saturday to deliver the warning, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The statement doesn’t mention the name of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, though it refers to a Huawei “principal” taken into custody at U.S. request while changing planes in Vancouver, as was Ms. Meng. The statement accuses Canada of “severely violating the legal, legitimate rights of a Chinese citizen” and demands the person’s release.

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

Watch Live: Paris On Lockdown – Tear Gas Fired, Mass Arrests Amid “Act IV” Yellow Vest Protest Chaos

Paris police resorted to extreme crowd-control measures on Saturday as tens of thousands of “Yellow Vest” protesters descended on the French capital for a fourth weekend of chaos which began over fuel taxes and quickly morphed into general outrage at the Macron government.

Embedded video

Embedded video

Latest pictures of clashes between police and “yellow vest” anti-government protesters in Paris http://bbc.in/2RKOEPZ

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

How To Be Invisible On The Internet

Everywhere you look, concerns are mounting about internet privacy.

Although giving up your data was once an afterthought when gaining access to the newest internet services such as Facebook and Uber, as Visual Capitalist’s Jeff Desjardins notes, many people have had their perspective altered by various recent scandals, billions of dollars of cybertheft, and a growing discomfort around how their personal data may be used in the future.

More people want to opt out of this data collection, but aside from disconnecting entirely or taking ludicrous measures to safeguard information, there aren’t many great options available to limit what is seen and known about you online.

THE NEXT BEST THING

It may not be realistic to use Tor for all online browsing, so why not instead look at taking more practical steps to reducing your internet footprint?

Today’s infographic comes to us from CashNetUSA, and it gives a step-by-step guide – that anyone can follow – to limit the amount of personal data that gets collected on the internet.

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

May Unleashes ‘Project Fear 3.0’ As Brexit Vote Looms: Stockpile Food, Drugs, Prepare For The Worst

On Tuesday, the UK Parliament is slated to vote on whether PM Theresa May’s Brexit deal should survive or die.

All the signs are that politicians in the House of Commons will choose overwhelmingly to stop the agreement May has struck after 18 months of talks with the EU.

And so, in what seems like a desperate last minute play, May’s government (that is whoever remains loyal to her) has issued a dramatic letter of warning to the country warning of the consequences of a ‘no’ vote and the case of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal.

This is Project Fear 3.0 (to be clear, Project Fear 1.0 was PM Cameron’s 2016 warnings of national security threats, among other things; and Project Fear 2.0 was The Bank of England’s latest economic depression forecast)

The government is telling supermarkets to keep as much stock as possible in warehouses around the country.

“The problem for supermarkets throughout this process is the seasonality of fresh produce,” said Brian Connell, a supply chain consultant at KPMG.

“Some of the stuff they would want to stockpile hasn’t even been sown yet, let alone grown or harvested.”

Retail giants including Tesco Plc, J Sainsbury Plc, Walmart Inc.’s Asda and Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc — the country’s four biggest grocery chains — are now asking their main suppliers to ramp up their stock over concerns that half their shelves will be empty if there is a hard or no-deal Brexit, according to Joe Clarke, national officer for food, drink and tobacco at the Unite union.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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