Canadians' Rising Debt Worries Bank
The Bank of Canada used record-low interest rates to help save the economy and put it back on the road to growth. But in doing so it might have created a bigger headache down the road with Canadians carrying too much debt. The central bank acknowledged as much on Thursday in the latest edition of its financial system review, in which it suggested the risk posed by rising household debt levels to financial market stability has increased. Canada’s debt-to-income ratio had climbed to a new high of 142% as of the end of June, in part because consumers are rushing to take advantage of low borrowing costs to buy up assets. Nowhere is this more evident than in the housing market, where the average price of an existing home is up 21% from a year ago while sales volume has climbed 41%. But in taking on new debt, consumers may be failing to account for higher interest rates in the foreseeable future, leaving households “increasingly vulnerable” to any economic shocks, the central bank indicated. “What the Bank of Canada is saying is that there might be too much of a good thing going on,” said Benjamin Tal, an economist at CIBC World Markets. “And I think the issue here is to what extent are extremely low interest rates are blinding Canadians, and giving them a false sense of confidence to buy a bigger house.”
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Canadians' Rising Debt Worries Bank
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
U.S. Foreclosures to Reach 3.9 Million
Foreclosure filings in the U.S. will reach a record for the second consecutive year with 3.9 million notices sent to homeowners in default, RealtyTrac Inc. said. This year’s filings will surpass 2008’s total of 3.2 million as record unemployment and price erosion batter the housing market, the Irvine, California-based company said. “We are a long way from a recovery,” John Quigley, economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said in an interview. “You can’t start to see improvement in the housing market until after unemployment peaks.”
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Scotiabank Hints At Housing Bubble
Canadian real estate prices are inflated, but they're unlikely to correct themselves in the short term, a Bank of Nova Scotia report suggests.Canadian house prices are rich no matter how one looks at it," Scotia economists Derek Holt and Karen Cordes said in a report titled Is There a Canadian Housing Bubble? Of the many ways of gauging the health of a real estate market, affordability is one of the least useful because any measure that essentially compares income with mortgage payments is dependent on interest rates, Holt said Tuesday. Rates are at record lows at the moment, as the Bank of Canada's benchmark rate sits at 0.25 per cent.
Housing Sales Are Set To Reach New Highs
November housing sales across the country are set to reach new highs based on fresh data from the country’s two most expensive markets. The national numbers from the Ottawa-based Canadian Real Estate Association are not due out until mid-December but the Toronto Real Estate Board said yesterday it had its best November on record. Toronto’s news came on the heals of a Wednesday release from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver that said sales activity in the city rocketed up 252.7% in November from a year ago.
232 Toxic Chemicals Found In 10 Newborns
It’s no surprise to most MNN readers that the vast majority of American adults have BPA (bisphenol A) and other worrisome chemicals in their bodies. That’s what happens, after all, when you grow up in a chemical world. But a new study proves that our chemical romance actually begins in the womb, before we’re even born. A two-year study, commissioned by eco-nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Rachel’s Network, studied the umbilical cord blood of 10 American babies of African-American, Asian, and Hispanic heritage born between 2007 and 2008 — to find 232 toxic chemicals. According to Alex Formuzis, EWG’s director of communications.
Most college students expect to receive their diplomas on the basis of grades, but at a Pennsylvania school, physical fitness matters too.Students at Lincoln University with a body mass index of 30 or above, reflective of obesity, must take a fitness course that meets three hours per week. Those who are assigned to the class but do not complete it cannot graduate.
Young Adults Who Exercise Get Higher IQ Scores
The results were recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study involved 1.2 million Swedish men doing military service who were born between 1950 and 1976. The research group analysed the results of both physical and IQ tests when the men enrolled.
Laid-Off Foreigners Flee as Dubai Spirals Down
Sofia, a 34-year-old Frenchwoman, moved here a year ago to take a job in advertising, so confident about Dubai’s fast-growing economy that she bought an apartment for almost $300,000 with a 15-year mortgage.Now, like many of the foreign workers who make up 90 percent of the population here, she has been laid off and faces the prospect of being forced to leave this Persian Gulf city — or worse.“I’m really scared of what could happen, because I bought property here,” said Sofia, who asked that her last name be withheld because she is still hunting for a new job. “If I can’t pay it off, I was told I could end up in debtors’ prison.”
CIA Secret 'Torture' Prison
The CIA built one of its secret European prisons inside an exclusive riding academy outside Vilnius, a current Lithuanian government official and a former U.S. intelligence official told ABC News this week.Where affluent Lithuanians once rode show horses and sipped coffee at a café, the CIA installed a concrete structure where it could use harsh tactics to interrogate up to eight suspected al-Qaeda terrorists at a time. "The activities in that prison were illegal," said human rights researcher John Sifton. "They included various forms of torture, including sleep deprivation, forced standing, painful stress positions."
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Canada's (Sub-Prime) Mortgage Market
For most of this year the markets have been discounting an economic recovery. That is, they have been in rally mode in anticipation that the worst of the economic crisis is over. While that is likely, all that is left for debate is how meaningful the recovery will be and if it is sustainable. The G20 countries have committed to not let their collective foot off the stimulus gas pedal until they are confident that the economy is on a sustainable trajectory... Recently, the president and CEO of ING Direct Canada stated that he is seeing Canadian habits resemble those of US and European nations during their housing booms. The level of equity in Canadian homes is surprisingly low as more than 50% of all mortgages issued this year are longer than the 25 year range that has been the usual option for borrowers.
Bankruptcies Soar 43%
The number of bankruptcies across the country was 43 per cent higher in September than at the same point a year ago, government data shows. The latest figures provided by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada show the increase is disproportionately slanted towards consumer bankruptcies over business insolvencies. The September figure for the former was up by 45.5 per cent in the last year; the latter by only 1.6 per cent.
Easy credit, Soaring Prices Raise New Housing Fears
Canadians are buying homes at a blistering pace, binging on new debt. But all that cheap money can come at a high cost.
How To Prepare For Potential 'Global Collapse'
In a report entitled "Worst-case debt scenario", the bank's asset team said state rescue packages over the last year have merely transferred private liabilities onto sagging sovereign shoulders, creating a fresh set of problems. Overall debt is still far too high in almost all rich economies as a share of GDP (350pc in the US), whether public or private. It must be reduced by the hard slog of "deleveraging", for years.
China Warns Federal Reserve Over 'Printing Money
Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, said: "Senior officials of the Chinese government grilled me about whether or not we are going to monetise the actions of our legislature." "I must have been asked about that a hundred times in China. I was asked at every single meeting about our purchases of Treasuries. That seemed to be the principal preoccupation of those that were invested with their surpluses mostly in the United States," he told the Wall Street Journal.
Germany Warns US On Market Bubbles
Germany’s new finance minister has echoed Chinese warnings about the growing threat of fresh global asset price bubbles, fuelled by low US interest rates and a weak dollar. Wolfgang Schäuble’s comments highlight official concern in Europe that the risk of further financial market turbulence has been exacerbated by the exceptional steps taken by central banks and governments to combat the crisis.
'Debt Levels Risk Another Crisis'
Harvard economics professor Ken Rogoff said that the level of debt major governments have taken on to tackle the financial crisis is of considerable concern must not go unnoticed. In a series of recent comments, Prof Rogoff cautions that countries like the US have been running up such significant national debts as a proportion of their total economies that there is the potential for default at some point in the future.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
From Boom---to Bust?
1 - The Boom - Real Estate
Vancouver Real Estate Market Heating Up
Vancouver has the hottest real estate market in the country, according to figures released Thursday by the Canadian Real Estate Association. Quarterly sales increases of 11 per cent in Toronto and 19 per cent in Calgary were topped by a 34-per-cent jump in Vancouver. It's the biggest year-over-year increase since early 2002, the association said.
Toronto Helps Lead Surge
Existing home sales across Canada climbed to the highest level of any third quarter on record, according to figures released today by the Canadian Real Estate Association.Year over year increases in Toronto at 28 per cent and Vancouver at 124 per cent were the main reasons for the upswing.
2 - Concern, What is Fueling The Boom?
Bank of Canada Monitors Real Estate Surge
Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney says he has “some concern” that the surge in the housing market is unsustainable, although for now the boom in home buying remains a significant factor in Canada's economic rebound.“We do have some concerns about it,” Mr. Carney said at a press conference Thursday. “Obviously, consumer borrowing cannot not grow faster than the economy forever.” Most Canadian housing indicators are much stronger than most economists imagined they would be so early into the rebound from Canada's first recession since the early 1990s. For example, the average price of an existing home was $331,602 in September, a 13.6 per cent increase from the same month a year ago, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.
3 - Real Estate Fuel = Historic Levels of Debt
Canadian Household Credit 'Is Defying Gravity'
Household credit is growing at a year-over-year rate of more than 7%, the fastest seen in any economic recession in the post-war era on an inflation adjusted basis, a new CIBC Capital Markets report shows. "It's all about affordability. During the first six months of the year, total debt rose by $44-billion but interest payments on debt fell by $3-billion," Benjamin Tal, economist with CIBC, said in the report. "Household credit in Canada is defying gravity." The mortgage market alone has grown 7.8% in the past year, reflecting a strong rebound in real estate activity.
Household credit is "defying gravity," growing at the fastest pace of any recession since the Second World War when adjusted for inflation, a new report from CIBC World Markets shows. A booming real-estate market that has sent outstanding mortgages surging 7.8% year-over-year in August is the primary driver, accounting for almost 70% of the 7% increase in overall household credit, said Benjamin Tal, senior economist at CIBC World Markets. That is in stark contrast to the 1991 and 2001 slumps, when mortgage growth ground to a halt on an inflation-adjusted basis, the report notes. "During a recession, usually mortgage markets go down, but this time it hasn't and the reason is affordability, driven by low interest rates," Mr. Tal said. "The Bank of Canada cut interest rates to stimulate the economy, and it's working."
Household Credit Defying Gravity
Household credit is defying gravity in Canada, expanding by more than 7 per cent year over year, a new analysis says. “On an inflation adjusted basis, credit is rising at the fastest rate seen in any economic recession in the post-war era,” Benjamin Tal, senior economist with CIBC World Markets, wrote in report published Tuesday. The main driver is low interest rates. Even as Canadians added $44-billion to their total debt in the first half of the year, interest payments fell by $3-billion. In fact, interest payments as a share of disposable income now stand at 7.7 per cent, the lowest rate since 2006 and significantly below the more than 10 per cent during the 1991 recession, Mr. Tal said. “This in a nut shell is the reason for the strong rebound in real estate activities in the Canadian mortgage market.” National home sales were up 18.5 per cent year-over-year in August, with the average home price rising 11 per cent, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.
4 - The Bust?
Be Careful, Low Rates Won't Last
Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney is warning homebuyers against taking on too much debt because today's low interest rates will not last forever. "People should manage their affairs prudently in anticipation that, at some point, rates will return to a more normal level," Carney said after releasing his quarterly economic review. "Obviously, rates are exceptionally low," he said, noting that the central bank has used its interest-rate-setting influence to drive down consumer borrowing costs to record lows to help stimulate economic activity.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Oldest Human Skeleton
The oldest-known hominid skeleton was a 4-foot-tall female who walked upright more than 4 million years ago and offers new clues to how humans may have evolved, scientists say.Scientists believe that the fossilized remains, which were discovered in 1994 in Ethiopia and studied for years by an international team of researchers, support beliefs that humans and chimpanzees evolved separately from a common ancestor.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Majority of Canadians Living Paycheque to Paycheque
Nearly 60 per cent of Canadians would have trouble paying the bills if their paycheque was delayed by one week, a new polls suggests. The Canadian Payroll Association survey says not only are the majority of Canadians living paycheque-to-paycheque, but they have little ability to put money away for their retirement. The survey, released Monday, said 59 per cent of Canadians would have trouble making ends meet if they missed a paycheque. "We were surprised that people were that close to the line," said Patrick Culhane, president and CEO of the not-for-profit association.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The Vegas Way Out
Las Vegas homeowners are more likely than those elsewhere to walk away from their mortgages even though they can afford them, according to a study by two Chicago-area universities. The reason: Las Vegas — where 81 percent of homes are worth less than their mortgages based on the latest figures — leads the nation in the rate of foreclosures. And the decision to default on a mortgage can be contagious. The more it occurs, the more acceptable it becomes.
Vancouver Tanks First For Net Worth
Vancouver has stolen Calgary's crown as the city with the highest net worth. In a soon-to-be-published database that looks at how Canadians handled their wealth during the rapid change of fortunes that marred 2008, Environics Analytics exposes profound changes in the way people approach their wealth. Canadians have seen their nest eggs shrivel, beefed up their savings, scaled back their borrowing, and embraced caution, an abrupt change in attitude that will likely persist, says Catherine Pearson, vice-president of Environics Analytics in Toronto. Generally, the research, which crunches and dissects numbers from 80 different sources and goes into deep local detail, found that the richer Canadians were, the harder they fell.
Friday, August 7, 2009
US Food Stamp List Tops 34 million For First Time
For the first time, more than 34 million Americans received food stamps, which help poor people buy groceries, government figures said on Thursday, a sign of the longest and one of the deepest recessions since the Great Depression Enrollment surged by 2 percent to reach a record 34.4 million people, or one in nine Americans, in May, the latest month for which figures are available.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Spitzer: Federal Reserve Is ‘A Ponzi Scheme, An Inside Job’
The Federal Reserve — the quasi-autonomous body that controls the US’s money supply — is a “Ponzi scheme” that created “bubble after bubble” in the US economy and needs to be held accountable for its actions, says Eliot Spitzer, the former governor and attorney-general of New York.
China's Car Sales Boom, Reshaping A Way Of Life
This city is a symbol of
Getting Real About Gold
America's third largest life insurer, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, has been in existence for 152 years. It has never in all those years bought gold - until now. The company has disclosed it recently invested around $US400 million to buy the yellow metal in the expectation that it was not only a prudent way to preserve its funds but also that the metal's price will rise significantly. This is significant because here is a presumably conservatively-run company putting a good deal of faith in gold. We’re not just listening to the gold bugs anymore - their predictions are finally coming true. The rest of the world is now starting to buy the gold story.
Friday, July 17, 2009
China’s Market Value Overtakes Japan
China overtook Japan as the world’s second-largest stock market by value for the first time in 18 months, after government stimulus spending and record bank lending boosted share prices this year. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.4 percent yesterday, sending the value of China’s domestic stock market to $3.21 trillion, compared with Japan’s $3.20 trillion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Shanghai index has gained 75 percent this year, the best-performing major market, against a 5.5 percent advance in the Nikkei 225 Stock Average. The U.S. has the biggest equities market worth $10.8 trillion.
Moon Landing Tapes Erased
The original recordings of the first humans landing on the moon 40 years ago were erased and re-used, but newly restored copies of the original broadcast look even better, NASA officials said on Thursday.NASA released the first glimpses of a complete digital make-over of the original landing footage that clarifies the blurry and grainy images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the surface of the moon. The full set of recordings, being cleaned up by Burbank, California-based Lowry Digital, will be released in September. The preview is available at http://www.nasa.gov.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Suitcase With $134 Billion Puts Dollar on Edge
Two Japanese men are detained in Italy after allegedly attempting to take $134 billion worth of U.S. bonds over the border into Switzerland. Details are maddeningly sketchy, so naturally the global rumor mill is kicking into high gear. Are these would-be smugglers agents of Kim Jong Il stashing North Korea’s cash in a Swiss vault? Bagmen for Nigerian Internet scammers? Was the money meant for terrorists looking to buy nuclear warheads? Is Japan dumping its dollars secretly? Are the bonds real or counterfeit? The implications of the securities being legitimate would be bigger than investors may realize. At a minimum, it would suggest that the U.S. risks losing control over its monetary supply on a massive scale.
University of Colorado Team
A University of Colorado at Boulder research team has discovered the first definitive evidence of shorelines on Mars, an indication of a deep, ancient lake there and a finding with implications for the discovery of past life on the Red Planet. Estimated to be more than 3 billion years old, the lake appears to have covered as much as 80 square miles and was up to 1,500 feet deep -- roughly the equivalent of Lake Champlain bordering the United States and Canada, said CU-Boulder Research Associate Gaetano Di Achille, who led the study. The shoreline evidence, found along a broad delta, included a series of alternating ridges and troughs thought to be surviving remnants of beach deposits."This is the first unambiguous evidence of shorelines on the surface of Mars," said Di Achille. "The identification of the shorelines and accompanying geological evidence allows us to calculate the size and volume of the lake, which appears to have formed about 3.4 billion years ago."
Medvedev Calls For New Reserve Currencies
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says the world needs new reserve currencies. Medvedev told a regional summit Tuesday that the creation of new reserve currencies in addition to the dollar is needed to stabilize global finances. Medvedev has made the proposal before. It reflects both the Kremlin's push for greater international clout and a concern shared by other countries that soaring U.S. budget deficits could spur inflation and weaken the dollar. Airing it at a summit meeting underlined the challenge to U.S. clout. Medvedev spoke at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes China and four Central Asian nations.
U.S. Credit Card Defaults Rise
U.S. credit card defaults rose to record highs in May, with a steep deterioration of Bank of America Corp's lending portfolio, in another sign that consumers remain under severe stress. Delinquency rates -- an indicator of future credit losses -- fell across the industry, but analysts said the decline was due to a seasonal trend, as consumers used tax refunds to pay back debts, and they expect delinquencies to go up again in coming months.
Budget Crisis Forces Deep Cuts
California's historic budget crisis threatens to devastate a public education system that was once considered a national model but now ranks near the bottom in school funding and academic achievement. Deep budget cuts are forcing California school districts to lay off thousands of teachers, expand class sizes, close schools, eliminate bus service, cancel summer school programs, and possibly shorten the academic year. Without a strong economic recovery, which few experts predict, the reduced school funding could last for years, shortchanging millions of students, driving away residents and businesses, and darkening California's economic future.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Canada, Ontario Commit $10.5B
Saying it was judged to be too risky not to participate in the restructuring of General Motors, the governments of Canada and Ontario will contribute about $10.5 billion in financial aid to the automaker.The federal government will contribute $7 billion, while $3.5 billion will come from Ontario. In exchange for their commitment, Canada and Ontario will get an 11.7 per cent stake in the equity of the restructured GM. Canada will also appoint one independent director to the board of directors of GM.The company will not file for creditor protection in Canada.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Canadians Dragging Around Too Much Debt
Canadian households are headed toward a painful debt spiral, warns an association of accountants.The Certified General Accountants Association of Canada says families – including retirees – are getting deeper into debt to pay day-to-day expenses and interest on their debt, just as the economy has downshifted into recession after 17 years of growth. Researchers cite survey results and economic data to make their case for greater caution, reduced spending and incentives to step up savings in a world of low interest rates.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Decline and Fall: A View From 2089
The demise of an economy as mighty as that of the United States as of 2000 cannot be accounted for by anything less than deeply mistaken and foolish decision-making within that nation’s ruling circles. No amount of foreign competition or resource shortage has historically caused such a catastrophe. However, policy actions undertaken without proof or even evidence of their efficacy have historically done so. (See “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” Gibbon, 1776.)
Monday, May 11, 2009
Sunday, May 3, 2009
China has 'Canceled US Credit Card'
China, wary of the troubled US economy, has already "canceled America's credit card" by cutting down purchases of debt, a US congressman said Thursday. China has the world's largest foreign reserves, believed to be mostly in dollars, along with around 800 billion dollars in US Treasury bonds, more than any other country. But Treasury Department data shows that investors in China have sharply curtailed their purchases of bonds in January and February. Representative Mark Kirk, a member of the House Appropriations Committee and co-chair of a group of lawmakers promoting relations with Beijing, said China had "very legitimate" concerns about its investments.