Categories for Economic Analysis

Canada’s “Neutral Rate” in Perspective

The “neutral rate” has taken on a life of its own. The Bank of Canada is talking about it, analysts are talking about it, the media is talking about it and everyday mortgagors are talking about it. Millions of Canadians, us included, use it as reference when trying to estimate how high rates might go. But the neutral rate is...

Could a Recession Derail Mortgage Rates?

AbsoTrumpingLutely. The more useful question is, what are the chances it will? Economists project Canada’s economy could shrink 1.8% in 2020 if the U.S. pushes us into a global trade war. In that case, we’d fall into recession in late 2019 or early 2020, they say. Canadian exports would dive, partly due to U.S. tariffs making our goods too expensive...

How a Trade War Could Hold Rates Down

“We cannot withstand a trade war with the United States” – Rona Ambrose. When over 70% of your exports go to one country, and that country’s representatives say, “There’s a special place in hell,” for your Prime Minister, that’s a problem. This is what the state of relations has come to between two of the world’s closest allies. Given Trump’s tendency to...

U.S. & Canada Go to (Trade) War: The Mortgage Angle

Captain Chaos, a.k.a., The Golden Wrecking Ball, a.k.a., President Donald, has just punched America’s allies in the face with a short-sighted metals tariff, a move Canada and the EU proclaimed “totally unacceptable.” Canada, being the largest exporter of steel to the U.S., immediately counter-punched today with tariffs on U.S. exports. All of this doesn’t look good if you’re hoping to...

Bond Yields Dive: Could Fixed Rates Follow?

All it takes to derail an uptrend in mortgage rates is one little global crisis. And that’s potentially what we’ve got. Canada’s 5-year bond yield—which drives fixed mortgage rates—has plunged. As of this writing, it’s down almost 30 basis points from its high two Fridays ago. This latest nosedive is courtesy of shoot-first-ask-questions-later AAA bond-buying. (Rates move inversely to bond...

Don’t Go Variable Because Rates Are “Overextended”

The worst trap a mortgage expert can fall into is thinking they’re shrewd enough to predict interest rates. Yet, they do it because they: Think they’re smarter than the market Want media, readers or clients to think they’re smarter than the market Are completely delusional. The most comedic rate commentators are the ones who couch their predictions in vagaries so...

Stress Test Consequences Adding Up

New data has more than a few observers second guessing Ottawa’s latest mortgage clampdown. RE/MAX’s 2018 Spring Market Trends Report quantifies the by-products coming from one of the biggest mortgage rule changes ever, the uninsured mortgage stress test. The data beg the question, are the side effects worse than the government’s medicine? More Buyers Are Being Hamstrung One in four...

The Mortgage Market Post B-20. Are the Wheels Coming Off?

Not exactly. One month after the mother of all mortgage rule changes, the wheels are still turning in Canada’s real estate and mortgage market. They’re just turning slower. But make no mistake, OSFI’s mortgage stress test has changed the landscape—for both borrowers and lenders. Here’s how: Fewer Mortgages Our best anecdotal guesstimate after speaking to a sampling of federally regulated...

This Is Not the Time to Gamble on Rates

“Lower for longer” has become the mantra in the rate market. But mantras don’t last forever. Trump is a rate market shock. He has single-handedly transformed how investors perceive North American growth prospects, inflation and default risk in the U.S. bond market. That’s driven Canada’s bellwether 5-year bond yield near one-year highs. Combine this with Ottawa’s regulatory changes, and suddenly today’s record-low...

Thank You, Mr. Poloz?

“Young folks with mortgages regularly thank me for keeping interest rates low.“ —Bank of Canada Governor, Stephen Poloz In fact, Mr. Poloz’s decisions to keep rates low have practically been made for him, by serially disappointing economic data. Monetary policy has merely reacted to what he terms “a steady decline in the potential growth rate of the economy.” The...