You drive over this patch of road daily, oblivious of the risk, until bingo!… who could have known? [Sinkhole photo from Vancouver Sun 12 Dec 2010]
I’m sure you all get the metaphor.
Well, a growing number in the mainstream are coming around to ‘getting it’, too.
The following extracts from articles in the G&M 12 Dec 2010; G&M 13 Dec 2010a
The ratio of household credit market debt-to-personal disposable income hit a record 148.1 per cent in the third quarter.
Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney said last week that the growth of household debt, which has outpaced incomes, has deepened the vulnerability of the household sector.
The ratio of debt to assets is the second-highest in the G7.
“The trend is still that debt accumulation is faster than disposable income – and that is a worrisome trend over the long haul,” said Pascal Gauthier, senior economist at TD Bank Group. “We should look at this before we reach extreme levels, but the question is, what are extreme levels?”
78 per cent of respondents said they think they have the capacity to borrow even more.
Home ownership rate in Canada is at a record high of about 70 per cent – that’s a bit more than at the peak in the United States.
Home prices are also at record levels and the market is overvalued.
Economists Derek Holt and Gorica Djeric want the central bank chief to update markets on the outlook for housing:
“We still subscribe to the view that house prices face downside risks although the exact timing is uncertain.”
“In our view, low rates for a long time translate into concerns about transferring even greater volumes of homebuyers out of the future into the present.”
“[In future] a softer demand environment for housing will be unleashed.”
Interesting mix of euphemism and metaphor.
You don’t ‘unleash’ ‘softer demand’, you unleash the ‘hounds of hell’.
We’re not heading for a soft landing, we’re heading for a crash.
More are doing the math and realizing this. -vreaa
And from a second G&M article today (G&M 13 Dec 2010b) -
The Bank of Canada has kept borrowing rates low for longer than many economists had expected, offering a steady stream of fuel to the housing market and consumer spending. But in the process, Canadian debt levels have risen to troubling heights.
Gordon Nixon, chief executive officer of the Royal Bank of Canada, the country’s largest bank, said “We are clearly at the limit”; “You do not want significant growth in consumer debt.”
The average debt per household, including mortgage and credit card debt, hit a high this year of $96,100.
Fairfax Financial CEO Prem Watsa is among the influential voices pointing to the impact of soaring debt on the broader economy. Not only are Canadians overleveraged, primarily with mortgage debt, low interest rates have prompted speculative buying that is artificially inflating housing prices, he said.
In February, 2010, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced measures designed to make it harder for mortgage borrowers to get in over their head.
But those measures fell short of what some bankers wanted, namely a significant reduction in the maximum allowable amortization period of new mortgages or a substantial broad increase in down payments.
[ Yeah, as we wished for and predicted HERE. -vreaa]