Thursday, December 10, 2009

Canada’s Debt-To-Income Ratio 142%

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.”

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

U.S Foreclosures Skyrocket

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

Are You Officially Unemployed?

Canadian Housing: Boom or Bust?

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.

Chemical Baby

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.

Too Fat To Graduate

College's Too-Fat-To-Graduate
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.

Higher IQ From Exercise

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.

Debtors Jails

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

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."