Personal Debt A Threat To Recovery
Canada’s household debt burden, now as heavy as that of the United States, represents a significant threat to the country’s economic recovery, the International Monetary Fund says. Sounding a note of alarm, the Washington-based IMF used its latest review of Canada’s economy to highlight the risks that come with Canadians’ record levels of mortgage debt, credit-card debt, lines of credit and other liabilities. Statistics Canada said last week that the ratio of household debt to disposable income reached 148.1 per cent in the third quarter.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Personal Debt A Threat To Recovery
Monday, December 20, 2010
Debt Crisis Threatens to Bring Down US Cities
More than 100 American cities could go bust next year as the debt crisis that has taken down banks and countries threatens next to spark a municipal meltdown, a leading analyst has warned. Meredith Whitney, the US research analyst who correctly predicted the global credit crunch, described local and state debt as the biggest problem facing the US economy, and one that could derail its recovery."Next to housing this is the single most important issue in the US and certainly the biggest threat to the US economy," Whitney told the CBS 60 Minutes programme on Sunday night.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Stuxnet Virus Set Back Iran
Top German computer consultant tells 'Post' virus was as effective as military strike, a huge success; expert speculates IDF creator of virus. The Stuxnet virus, which has attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities and which Israel is suspected of creating, has set back the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program by two years, a top German computer consultant who was one of the first experts to analyze the program’s code told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. “It will take two years for Iran to get back on track,” Langer said in a telephone interview from his office in Hamburg, Germany. “This was nearly as effective as a military strike, but even better since there are no fatalities and no full-blown war. From a military perspective, this was a huge success.”
Iranian Nuclear Scientist Assassinated
Iran's phantom enemies unexpectedly attacked the country on November 29. Two cars exploded in Teheran almost simultaneously. Iranian nuclear physicist Majid Shahriari was killed in the explosions. Another nuclear physicist, Fereidoun Abbasi, was seriously injured.The two scientists worked at the Shahid Behesti University. Professor Shahriari played a key role in the implementation of Iran's nuclear programs. Shahriari chaired the department for nuclear engineering and was involved in the works to develop nuclear reactors of new generation.
The covert operations that target suddenly came to light with explosive violence and stunning implications for the future of warfare on Nov. 29.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Canadians' debt-to-income ratio now higher than Americans
Canadians’ debt-to-income ratio is now higher than Americans’ for the first time in a dozen years, leaving policy makers with a dilemma: Rein in spending and risk hampering the recovery, or do nothing and risk a cascading financial failure....The ratio of household debt-to-disposable income reached the highest on record in the third quarter, at 148.1 per cent, Statistics Canada said Monday, a 6.7 per cent rise in Canadian household obligations from a year ago. The ratio tops the 147.2-per-cent ratio in the United States and comes as incomes fell 1.5 per cent during the same three-month period.
It’s time for Ottawa to crack the whip on borrowers
It’s time for an intervention. Canadians are unable to shake their enslavement to debt, and our banks are unable to stop themselves from supplying the goods. Warnings to stop living beyond our means from mom and dad, in the form of Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, aren’t making much of an impression.
Analysts fret over housing, want to hear from Carney
The Scotia Capital economists noted that the home ownership rate in Canada is at a record high of about 70 per cent - that's a bit more than the peak in the United States. Home prices are also at record levels and the market is overvalued, while the debt-to-income ratio sits at 145 per cent, which is "not terribly lower than a properly defined U.S. comparison." The ratio of debt to assets, meanwhile, is the second-highest in the G7.
Ottawa, banks discuss measures to rein in Canadians’ personal debt
Ottawa is talking to the banks about putting new measures to curb the rise in consumer debt into the next federal budget. Deputy finance minister Michael Horgan has broached the topic in prebudget consultations with executives from Bay Street firms, sources say. Several bankers have told him that they would support further federal moves to cool the mortgage market, including cutting the maximum term of mortgages or increasing the minimum down payment.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Global risks rising: Bank of Canada
The Bank of Canada warned Thursday that the risk of another global economic shock is rising and Canadians may not be prepared for it.The recovery in Canada and globally is slowing, the central bank said in the December issue of its Financial System Review. It said the main risk is the growing seriousness of Europe's government debt crisis. Another threat is the unwillingness of countries to take action to reduce imbalances in exports and imports between countries.Canadians won't be spared another shock, the bank said, because during the current period of tough economic times, they have continued to take on debt.Household debt has risen to 145 per cent of disposable income as Canadians have taken advantage of super-low interest rates to purchase homes and other consumer items on credit.
Bankers Sound Alarm On Loans
Some of Canada’s top bank executives are growing increasingly uncomfortable with the level of debt Canadians are taking on through long-amortization mortgages. “I think all of us are looking at [what to do],” said Ed Clark, chief executive of Toronto-Dominion Bank, adding the current situation “is not a good thing.” Speaking in an interview, Mr. Clark said TD has already acted to slow lending but it’s now up to the federal government to take steps such as reducing maximum amortization periods on home loans to 25 years from 35 years or lowering loan-to-value ratios. “These are exactly the things that government should be doing and there’s been a lot of discussion,” he said.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
In Canada the hardship still lies ahead. Our houses are still 20 to 30 per cent above normal levels, salaries are shrinking and a lot of Canadians are heavily indebted. There’s a lurking disaster, to the extent that you have reduction of purchasing power and we are just not saving hardly anything as a nation. I think things are going to get a hell of a lot worse. We still have a trade deficit today despite the fact that commodity prices are incredibly high. I hope I’m wrong but I think Canada is on the edge of a lot of trouble.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Fed Made $9 Trillion In Loans
The Federal Reserve made $9 trillion in overnight loans to major banks and Wall Street firms during the financial crisis, according to newly revealed data released Wednesday. The loans were made through a special loan program set up by the Fed in the wake of the Bear Stearns collapse in March 2008 to keep the nation's bond markets trading normally. The amount of cash being pumped out to the financial giants was not previously disclosed. All the loans were backed by collateral and all were paid back with a very low interest rate to the Fed -- an annual rate of between 0.5% to 3.5%...."The $700 billion Wall Street bailout turned out to be pocket change compared to trillions and trillions of dollars in near zero interest loans and other financial arrangements that the Federal Reserve doled out to every major financial institution," Sanders said.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
China, Russia Quit Dollar
St. Petersburg, Russia - China and Russia have decided to renounce the US dollar and resort to using their own currencies for bilateral trade, Premier Wen Jiabao and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin announced late on Tuesday. Chinese experts said the move reflected closer relations between Beijing and Moscow and is not aimed at challenging the dollar, but to protect their domestic economies."About trade settlement, we have decided to use our own currencies," Putin said at a joint news conference with Wen in St. Petersburg.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Housing bubble a danger: expert
One of the first economists to predict the U.S. mortgage crisis warned Wednesday that Canada's housing sector could be headed for a sharp correction. Dean Baker of the Washington-based Centre for Economic and Policy Research said he sees no reason why average home prices in Canada should be about 50 per cent higher than in the U.S. Baker said if interest rates rise by two per cent, Canadians could see house prices collapse by 25 to 30 per cent.
Vancouver Taxpayers Stuck...
Vancouver taxpayers are on the hook for millions of dollars a month in interest payments for the troubled Olympic village project, and there are no plans to start selling the empty condos again until next year. Expenses for building maintenance and security and other costs are adding as much as $1.5 million a month to the multimillion-dollar interest payments. Moreover, the court-appointed receiver Ernst & Young has the power to borrow as much as $7.5 million to carry out its job. The figures emerged this week as part of the backdrop for the city's extraordinary demand to put Millennium Southeast False Creek Properties into a "negotiated receivership" over the $740 million it owed for two taxpayer-funded loans
Monday, November 8, 2010
Clueless' – The German Verdict
They have already pumped endless amounts of money into the economy with extremely high budget deficits, and with a monetary policy which has already pumped in lots of money," Mr Schäuble said. "The results have been hopeless. With all due respect, [the] US policy is clueless."
Canada’s Housing Market ‘Pricey, Not Dicey,’
Canada's housing market is moderately overvalued but not a bubble waiting to be burst, BMO Nesbitt Burns says. “All things considered, the Canadian housing market does not appear to be in a bubble, and is unlikely to suffer a U.S.-style collapse,” economists Earl Sweet and Sal Guatieri said in a research note. “A key and overriding difference is the quality of loan origination in the past decade, as well as other institutional factors such as mortgage insurance and recourse against defaulters,” they wrote in the report titled “Canadian housing: Pricey, not dicey.”
Canadian Mortgage Debt Tops $1 Trillion
Canadians are holding more than $1 trillion worth of mortgage debt, the first time the total has passed that level, and a 7.6 per cent increase over the past year.The gain in the country's total residential mortgage debt is in keeping with the 7.5 per cent average seen over the past fifteen years, the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP) said in its annual report Monday. Over that time, Canadians total mortgage debt has increased by 194 per cent.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Buy/Rent Ratio Shows Real Estate ‘Vulnerable’
Canadian house prices have rebounded markedly from the depths of the recession, hitting a fresh record in may and bringing the buy/rent ratio to about 1.85x. That means that, even excluding major factors such as taxes and maintenance, homeowners pay about twice what renters pay.
Housing Correction Possible: Carney
Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney agreed Tuesday that an abrupt correction in Canada's housing market is possible.Appearing before the Commons finance committee and responding to a question from Nova Scotia MP Scott Bryson, Carney said he was not predicting a significant drop in prices, but given how far prices have risen and the high level of Canadians' household debt, it could not be ruled out.
Canada's Real Estate Overvalued
Canadian house prices are overvalued, but not as much as those in Australia, Hong Kong or France, according to a new worldwide survey. The data published in The Economist magazine's annual survey shows Canadian homes cost on average 23.9 per cent more than they are worth. That's somewhere around the middle of the pack. The scale ranged from Australia at the high end, where homes are 63.2 per cent overvalued, to Japan at the low end, where houses are 34.6 per cent undervalued. Canada's house prices were up 4.5 per cent from one year earlier. And between 1997 and 2010, prices rose a whopping 70 per cent, the report said.
Canada Should Provide More Stimulus
The Canadian government and the Bank of Canada should be ready to provide more stimulus to the economy if the downside risks it now faces come to pass, the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday. The multinational agency said authorities were taking the right steps by winding down Canada's fiscal stimulus plan and halting an interest rate hike campaign started in June. But the IMF warned risks to the economic outlook have increased -- including the high debt of Canadian households and the impact of housing market weakness in the United States.
China's Takes Supercomputer Crown
China has overtaken the US as home of the world's fastest supercomputer. Tianhe-1A, named for the Milky Way, is capable of sustained computing The US scientist who maintains the international rankings visited it last week and said he believed it was 1.4 times faster than the former number one, the Cray XT5 Jaguar in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. That topped the list in June with a rate of 1.75 petaflops a second. The US is home to more than half of the world's top 500 supercomputers. China had 24 in the last list, but has pumped billions of pounds into developing its computational ability in recent years. The machines are used for everything from modelling climate change and studying the beginnings of the universe to assisting aeroplane design.
Housed in the northern port city of Tianjin, near Beijing, Tianhe-1A was developed by the National University of Defence Technology. The system was built from thousands of chips made by US firms – Intel and Nvidia – but domestic researchers developed the networking technology that allows information to be exchanged between servers at extraordinary speeds.
Friday, October 22, 2010
Canadian Household Debt Rising Faster
Household debt is rising faster in Canada than in the United States and will continue to climb as low interest rates encourage consumers to spend beyond their means, warns a report from one of the country's largest banks. Canadian debt loads have become excessive as consumers become accustomed to easy borrowing, TD Economics said in the report released Wednesday. And it believes debt will continue to rise as long as the Bank of Canada keeps its key lending rate at a historically low level.
Canadian Housing Debt A Cause For Concern Report
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Kill BHP bid for PotashCorp
One of the biggest shareholders of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan has called for Ottawa to reject BHP Billiton's $38.6-billion US takeover offer for the Saskatoon-based fertilizer giant..."Whether it's Australia, Russia, China, Japan, Venezuela, Mexico, nobody except a few fools. And we have fools from sea to shining sea."
Stephen Jarislowsky, chairman of Montreal-based investment adviser Jarislowsky Fraser Ltd., said he is “convinced” there’s a bubble in Canada’s housing market, fueled by government measures that encouraged consumers to take on debt. “They have basically encouraged people to buy houses based on cheap mortgages,” Jarislowsky, 84, said in a telephone interview from Montreal. “That has created the opposite effect of what was desirable.
Friday, October 1, 2010
US Medical Tests In Guatemala 'Crime Against Humanity'
US testing that infected hundreds of Guatemalans with gonorrhoea and syphilis more than 60 years ago was a "crime against humanity", Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom has said. President Barack Obama has apologised for the medical tests, in which mentally ill patients and prisoners were infected without their consent. Mr Obama told Mr Colom the 1940s-era experiments ran contrary to American values, Guatemala said. The US has promised an investigation... The experiment ran from 1932 to 1972, with President Bill Clinton eventually apologizing for it.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
European Oil Companies Pledge to End Oil Investment
The United States announced Thursday that four of Europe's five biggest oil companies would end their energy investments in Iran, a significant advance in the Obama administration's efforts to pressure the Iranian government to enter negotiations over its alleged nuclear weapons program.
Japanese Energy Group To Quit Iran Oilfield
Inpex, the Japanese state-backed energy group, is poised to relinquish its remaining share of Iran’s Azadegan oilfield as tightening sanctions threaten companies that do business with Tehran.
Household Balance Sheets and the Outlook for Consumption
With Canadians working, but not as much as they would like, they have been borrowing. Real household credit expanded rapidly throughout the recession, in contrast to previous downturns, and has continued to grow through the recovery. Canadian households have now collectively run a net financial deficit for 37 consecutive quarters. That is, their investment in housing has outstripped their total savings for over nine straight years. In effect, households are demanding funds from the rest of the economy, rather than providing them, as had been the case through the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
This cannot continue. The ratio of Canadian household debt to disposable income reached 146 per cent in the first quarter of this year, an all-time high and very close to the current level in the United States . In a series of analyses over the past year the Bank has found that Canadian households are increasingly vulnerable to an adverse shock and that this vulnerability is rising more quickly than had been previously anticipated.
It is true that the strength of housing and other assets has meant that the net worth of Canadians remains about six times their average disposable income compared with slightly below five times in the United States. However, while asset prices can rise or fall, debt endures. Despite the buoyancy of the housing market, the debt-to-asset ratio has risen to its highest level in more than 20 years.
In short, Canadian household balance sheets are becoming increasingly stretched. It is possible that Canadians are beginning to address some of these vulnerabilities. This would be consistent with recent data that indicate a slowdown in household consumption expenditures and housing activity, amid a labour market recovery that has been longer on jobs than on hours or incomes.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Bank Raises Red Flag Over Housing Affordability
RBC economist Robert Hogue is raising a "red flag" about housing affordability in Vancouver.The bank's quarterly report on housing trends and affordability, released Monday, said Vancouver is one of a handful of Canadian markets where the share of household income taken up by home ownership costs "is at worrisome levels." RBC said the proportion of median pre-tax household income required to service the cost of a mortgage on an existing housing unit exceeds 70 per cent for both two-storey homes and detached bungalows. A standard condo consumes about 43 per cent of income, according to RBC.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Six In 10 Live Pay to Pay
The recession may be officially over, but six in 10 Canadians are still surviving from paycheque to paycheque, a national survey showed Monday. Fifty-nine per cent of Canadian workers say they would be in financial trouble if their paycheque was delayed by just a week – the same proportion as last year when the economy was still mired in a downturn, according to a poll of 2,766 people by the Canadian Payroll Association.
OECD Warns Canadians
High personal debt levels have left many Canadians financially vulnerable just when the country's economy is projected to slow, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development warned in a report on the Canadian economy Monday.
One In Seven Americans Is Living In Poverty
One in seven Americans is living in poverty, the highest number in the half-century that the government has kept such statistics, the Census Bureau announced Thursday. Last year was the third consecutive year that the poverty rate climbed, in part because of the recession, rising from 13.2 percent in to 14.3 percent, or 43.6 million people, last year.
Foreclosures Rise; Repossessions Set Record
US foreclosure activity rose in August from the previous month, and banks and lenders took ownership from homeowners at a record pace, according to a new report released Thursday. Overall, foreclosure fillings rose 4.18 percent in August from the previous month, and were down 5.48 percent from a year ago. In all, 338,836 properties were in the foreclosure process. One in 381 U.S. households received a foreclosure notice in August. (Foreclosure notices are defined as a default notice, auction sale notice or bank repossession.)
10 - Hawaii - One in every 315 households
9 - Illinois - One in every 314 households
8 - Michigan - One in every 255 households
7 - Georgia - 1 in every 246 households
6 - Utah - One in every 230 households
5 - Idaho - One in every 220 households
4 - California - One in every 194 households
3 - Arizona - One in every 165 households
2 - Florida - One in every 155 households
1 - Nevada - One in every 84 households
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
My trip yesterday was actually to Niagara Falls, to talk to the Canadian Bar Association. In preparation, I did some homework; and to be honest, I came away a little less sanguine about Canada than I started. Everything I and others have said about the Canadian banking system and its virtues is true. But in other respects, there do seem to be some worrying signs. First of all, Canadians borrow and spend like, well, Americans.
Ron Paul to Fed, Ft. Knox:
Congressman Ron Paul is in the news today doing what he does best: dropping firebombs on the Fed. The Republican from Texas told Kitco News that he plans to introduce a bill next year that will allow for an audit of U.S. gold reserves. Paul reportedly said that, in his opinion, it’s a “possibility” that there in fact isn’t any yellow metal in Fort Knox or the New York Federal Reserve.
Threat of Housing Bubble Has Resurfaced
Canada's housing market could still be in for a U-S style correction, despite a slow down in home sales across the country. The warning comes from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which released a report that analyzed the factors that cause a bubble. A real estate bubble is an artificial increase in property values which maxes out a homeowners ability to pay. When the bubble bursts, and values drop, owners are stuck with mortgages worth more than their homes. The CCPA found that prices in six of the country's largest housing markets, including Calgary, have hit 30-year highs and are in bubble territory. It says home prices are roughly five to 11 times greater than Canadians' annual income -- much higher than historical comfort levels.
An Accident Waiting to Happen
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Parliament Hill Alleged Terror Goal
Parliament Hill and the Montreal subway system were the targets of an alleged terror plot foiled this week with the arrests of three suspects, says a former counterterrorism officer with the RCMP and Canada's spy agency.Michel Juneau-Katsuya said he has learned that at least one of the suspects used Ottawa Public Library computers to communicate with other members of the Ottawa-based cell. Internet messages between the men triggered computer "sniffers" used to monitor electronic signals at Ottawa's Communication's Security Establishment (CSE), the national cryptologic agency, which alerted the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Foreclosures rise in July
The latest foreclosure numbers carried a mixed message: They're up 3.6% from the month before but down 9.7% from 12 months earlier. In July there were more than 325,000 foreclosure filings -- including notices of default, auctions notices and bank repossessions. That is the 17th month in a row total filings exceeded 300,000, said RealtyTrac's CEO, James Saccacio.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Social Security In The Red This Year
Social Security will pay out more this year than it gets in payroll taxes, marking the first time since the program will be in the red since it was overhauled in 1983, according to the annual authoritative report released Thursday by the program's actuary.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
China's Economy Passes Japan
China is set to overtake Japan as the world's second-largest economy in a resurgence that is changing everything from the global balance of military and financial power to how cars are designed.By some measures it has already moved to second place after the U.S. in total economic output — a milestone that would underline a pre-eminence not seen since the 18th century, when the Middle Kingdom last served as Asia's military, technological and cultural power.China is already the biggest exporter, auto buyer and steel producer, and its worldwide influence is growing. The fortunes of companies from Detroit automakers to Brazilian iron miners depend on spending by China's consumers and corporations. And rising wealth brings political presence: Chinese pressure helped to win developing countries a bigger voice in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
China Surpasses US as World's Top Energy Consumer
China is now king of the world in energy consumption, surpassing the U.S. years ahead of forecasts in a milestone that left the Asian giant immediately rejecting its new crown. Sensitive to its status as the world's biggest polluter, China has long pointed fingers at developed nations in climate change talks and resists any label that could increase international pressure for it to take a larger role in curbing greenhouse gas emissions. When the Paris-based International Energy Agency released its data on Tuesday, China branded it "unreliable." The United States still consumes more energy and oil per capita than China. But China's faster-than-expected shift has global consequences for markets and the environment, reflecting its transformation from a nation of subsistence farmers to one of workers increasingly trading their popular bicycles for cars and buying air conditioners and other energy-hungry home electronics.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Toyota Concedes 2 Flaws Caused Loss of Control
Toyota said Wednesday that its investigation of about 2,000 vehicles reported to experience sudden acceleration found evidence that sticking accelerator pedals and interference by floor mats — the subjects of two big recalls — did indeed cause some of the incidents.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Deposits Worth Up To $3 Trillion
Initial discoveries of untapped mineral deposits in poverty-stricken Afghanistan are "worth up to three trillion dollars", the country's mines minister said Thursday. The government tally came three days after US officials put their estimate of the value of the country's reserves of iron, copper, cobalt and gold at at least one trillion dollars.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
German President Koehler Quits
German President Horst Koehler says he is resigning immediately, following criticism of remarks he made about German military deployments abroad. He said that for an export-orientated country like Germany, it was sometimes necessary to deploy troops "to protect our interests... for example free trade routes".
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Nearly 20% of Homes Overvalued
Seventeen percent of Canadian homes are overvalued, CIBC warned Tuesday, with a 5 to 10 percent price correction likely to hit in the next two years.With higher interest rates likely to make housing less affordable in the coming years and the market beginning to show signs of cooling, prices are "probably" going to fall back as homeowners are increasingly cautious about how they spend their money."The most likely scenario is that higher interest rates will lead to a modest decline in prices in the coming year or two," economist Ben Tal wrote in a report.