“At 1 per cent, the Bank of Canada’s benchmark overnight rate is highly stimulative”.

From ‘OECD urges Bank of Canada to raise rates’, the G&M, 25 May 2011
“The Bank of Canada should raise borrowing costs within the next few months to show consumers and businesses that it has a grip on inflation, the Organization for Economic Co-operation says in a new assessment of Canada’s economy.”
…at 1 per cent, the Bank of Canada’s benchmark lending target – the overnight rate for loans between private banks – is “highly stimulative,” the OECD says in its biannual economic outlook for Canada and 33 other member countries.
“The OECD considers a neutral benchmark rate for Canada to be between 4 per cent and 4.5 per cent, a highly academic target that nonetheless demonstrates how aggressive central bank Governor Mark Carney has been in fighting the financial crisis.”
“The Bank of Canada should therefore resume the normalization of policy rates soon in order to pre-empt a broadening of inflationary pressure.”

“But in financial markets, the sentiment is much different.
The odds that the Bank of Canada will increase interest rates by September last week sank below 50 per cent for the first time since March, Bloomberg News reported, citing an analysis of trading of overnight index swaps, which are financial assets whose value is linked tightly to expectations of future interest rates.”

60 responses to ““At 1 per cent, the Bank of Canada’s benchmark overnight rate is highly stimulative”.

  1. 4 to 4.5 per cent would completely crush the housing market in Vancouver. Good that this is just a “highly academic target”

  2. Now I normally don’t want to argue with OECD but in this case there isn’t much indication inflation is coming off the rails. Unemployment is high; until there are more gains on this front I think the Bank will be loath to raise the overnight rate quickly.

    The conundrum the government faces is that keeping rates low causes people to plow into low-yielding assets (like Van West housing). The government’s first choice, in my view, would be to limit asset price growth on a case-by-case basis while keep the overall interest rate environment accommodative. They have already attempted to do this by throttling back CMHC loans but I think more is required.

    • Cutting off the excess liquidity would help in lieu of interest rates changes. CMHC et al are insuring the mortgages that go to securitization and securitization is supplying nearly all the growth in total mortgage debt right now.

      You can have low interest rates if lending standards are very strict (say, based on rents only) and/or you don’t loan out any more money than the rate of overall economic growth would allow for.

      The problem is unchecked lending has lost its usual “natural” controls, like the naturally low demand for expensive money, for example, or the naturally low demand to lend to a high risk borrower without sufficient return. The system is just plain off the rails.

  3. agree. I don’t see BOC rate changing too much if Canadians aren’t spending money. On a brighter note, Canadians seem willing to spend money on real estate. Better not kill the goose

  4. How about FIGHTER
    Finance, insurance, government, health care, tourism, education (private), real estate.

    This statement is erroneous
    “The OECD considers a neutral benchmark rate for Canada to be between 4 per cent and 4.5 per cent”
    Canada has only <3% target for inflation and everything else is adjusted to produce this target, including interest rates. With mid-summer inflation peak coming soon it looks like BOC rates are going to remain very low for at least another 10 months.

    • “How about FIGHTER”
      🙂 You are very entertaining today!

    • Rusty

      It is very “priviledged” (Ref. your previous post. Just kidding :))

      You probably are a pathetic homeowner in Vancouver who likely is worried about the RE downturn in Van but is desperately (and pitifully) trying to be a contrarian.

  5. Ralph Cramdown

    Core inflation is low. It isn’t like Carney can raise rates and lower gasoline and food prices and the transportation cost component of non-local goods. And that’s Carney’s only real lever, other than giving finger-wagging speeches.

    What I find interesting is the disconnect between central Canada’s manufacturing and service based economy and the West’s predominantly resource oriented one. It’s often the case that Calgary’s booming while Toronto is bust, or vice versa, yet the BoC/bond market can only set one yield curve. We’re a larger-than-optimal common currency zone. Not that this stops nutbars calling for us to adopt the US Dollar every decade or so…

    I suspect that, behind the scenes, Carney is pleading with Flaherty to do something. Flaherty knows you can’t pop a bubble slowly, and would rather do nothing, hoping a) it outlasts him and becomes somebody else’s problem or b) a huge exogenous shock occurs, and can be made the patsy.

    • If your policy is based on core inflation measurements while there are bubbles growing all around you, then something must be wrong with your methodology. The Greenspan Monster made the same mistake – he claimed that low core inflation and “invisible” bubbles prove that his low interest policies are the correct way to maintain prosperity forever. We all know how that ended…

      • Exactly right! “Core inflation” excludes too much to be of use in determining the inflation that people are actually experiencing!

      • I can’t eat an iPad…

      • “then something must be wrong with your methodology”

        Commodity prices don’t make a large contribution to daily expenses, it’s mostly labour. Tracking headline CPI and reacting to it would produce too many false positives, and bond yields seem to agree with the view that core CPI is a better gauge to follow when setting medium-term monetary policy.

        The analogy I use to determine if there is inflation is to go and ask your employer for a raise. If they pull out a drawer full of resumes of people who want your job, there is no inflation. Sucks to be me. Yes, it means I might have to convert to non-organic produce, speed less, buy a more fuel-efficient car when mine gives up, shop around for sales, and buy more used goods. My grandparents would find this behaviour all too familiar: it’s a microcosm of their experiences in the ’30s and that was not inflationary either.

    • I’m guessing a small rise in the rate in the next few months unless the economy slows down in Canada. I don’t think they are comfortable with the low rate.

      I also wouldn’t be surprised if the 25 year mortgage comes back.

    • Ralph, you actually understand cost-push inflation. Thank you. You’ve made my day.

    • No Carney can’t lower the cost of food and gas but he can re-direct spending. If he believes that the RE market has gotten out of hand and is potentially bankrupting people raising interest rates could dampen the “hunger” for debt and thus make more money available for other markets.

      Personally though I think it’s too late for that though. There are too many people too deep into it and sooner or later someone will have to pay the piper.

  6. The problem is the top of the housing market not the bottom, at least currently. CMHC will target the overheated, high price markets very soon, I predict.

  7. “CMHC will target the overheated, high price markets very soon, I predict”.

    The only overheated housing market is Vancouver. Do you honestly thing a nation-wide policy will be adjusted because of one city?

    • Rusty,

      In Canada pretty much every major metropolian area is in a housing bubble. Even the prairie cities.

      The debt ratio situation RE housing was discussed on an American housing blog. People are very overleveraged in Canada; the price of housing is out of wack with fundamentals. Commenters, were, um, surprised that people were engaging in practices very similar to the U.S. during the boom.

      One of the comments that sort of sums up the situation was: “Don’t they get NEWS up there?”

    • The only overheated housing market is Vancouver. Do you honestly thing a nation-wide policy will be adjusted because of one city?

      Income to price ratio in most parts of the country is seriously out of whack.

      Also: If there is a serious market failure in Vancouver it would have a knock-on effect in other markets and that would wipe out the CMHC and thus force the Government to somewhere find trillions to backstop all the loans CHMC insured.

      Then there is the question what happened to the 74 billion that the BoC gave the banks in exchange for their mortgage papers.

      • wasn’t our last correction supposed to wipe out CMHC? Do you have any idea what Canadian default rate is? It’s .42% (or less than 1/2 of 1%)
        Debt Ratios
        •Average GDS ratio in 2010: 19.6%
        [32% is a general maximum guideline.]
        •Average TDS ratio in 2010: 28.9%
        [40-42% is a general maximum guideline.]
        •Percentage of insured borrowers who would have TDS ratios over 45% if rates rose to five percent: 1% or less
        •Number of insured home buyers in 2010 with TDS ratios of 45%+: 2,000-2,500 (out of 9.45 million home owners)
        •Percentage of mortgagors who say they would not be “concerned” about their ability to handle a $300+ monthly payment increase: 66%
        •Percentage of mortgagors who say they have no ability to handle increased monthly payments at all: 3-4%


      • @Rusty – there are some truly excellent graphs at The Economic Analyst (sidebar links). We are experiencing an unprecedented amount of debt relative to GDP. Whether or not Canadians have defaulted in the past is not a great indicator of whether they will default in the future.

      • wasn’t our last correction supposed to wipe out CMHC?

        My last correction? The correction will hurt when interest rates rise and people need to refinance. The falling of the housing prices by itself will not wipe people out.

        The combination of:

        – Increased lending cost
        – Lower property value

        is the poison that will do people in, though considering the debt level a simple increase in interest for people with VRM could already put on the hurt.

        Do you have any idea what Canadian default rate is? It’s .42% (or less than 1/2 of 1%)

        Do you know that you are still alive? Thus, it clearly proves that you have eternal life!

        Debt Ratios
        •Average GDS ratio in 2010: 19.6%
        [32% is a general maximum guideline.]
        •Average TDS ratio in 2010: 28.9%
        [40-42% is a general maximum guideline.]
        •Percentage of insured borrowers who would have TDS ratios over 45% if rates rose to five percent: 1% or less
        •Number of insured home buyers in 2010 with TDS ratios of 45%+: 2,000-2,500 (out of 9.45 million home owners)
        •Percentage of mortgagors who say they would not be “concerned” about their ability to handle a $300+ monthly payment increase: 66%
        •Percentage of mortgagors who say they have no ability to handle increased monthly payments at all: 3-4%

        Yes, and you will LIVE FOREVER!!!!11111

        The concept that things will change in the future and will have an impact seems to be something that you do not seem to be able to comprehend.

  8. wrong. Outside of Vancouver most housing markets are flat. I guess you didn’t get the memo

    • Rusty,

      sigh. Vancouver is crazy bat-sh*t wacky nuts – 9 times income! The prices in other city are wack, but less insane.

      It’s about fundamentals. Debt & leverage vs. income.

      Carney’s trying to bring Canada in for a soft landing.


      • again Yank, 9x avg income does not represent who is buying; these are not actual purchases. Tell me the avg. each detached homebuyer is using as a downpayment to their purchase. All you’re doing is using a proposed scenario. Show me the real stats.

      • Rusty,

        Not sure what stats you’re looking for, but I believe many people are over-leveraged in Canada RE home prices, especially in Vancouver.

        I also think people are putting too many of their asset investments in one class. Not enough diversification — it leaves households vulnerable to market shocks.

  9. The Bank of Canada has made it reasonably clear that they do care about specific regional bubbles but lack the tools to do much about it. It’s up to the various levels of government to coordinate a strategy to deal with localized asset price bubbles, and as Mike alluded there are signs Vancouver is in the sight.

  10. again yank,
    I do agree with eliminating any mortgage length over 25 yrs. 40%+ choose mortgage more than 25 yrs. But I don’t think this is alarming since buyers need to qualify for a 5 yr fixed at 25 yrs anyway now.
    And stats do not show that owners are over-leveraged in Canada. Where do you get your info from? These bear blog sites? lol

    * Home owner equity:
    Negative equity: 3%
    0-9.9% equity: 6%
    10-24.9% equity: 12%
    25%+ equity: 79%
    * Average equity (for those with mortgages but no HELOC): 49%
    * Average equity (for those with mortgages and HELOCs): 43%


    • Oh, yay. Based on crazy high bubble valuations, we have great equity.

      Been there done that. Another thing no one can learn remotely, apparently.

      Rerun those numbers based on what an intelligent landlord would pick up the property for in distress, not what a moral hazard dazed bank will lend some sucker to buy it for, and it will look very different.

    • Rusty,

      Where do I get my info? from people like Robert Shiller (Shiller of the S&P Case Shiller Home Price Index – the Yale economist) & Paul Krugman of Princeton.

      Here’s a news story on Shiller discussing Canada’s housing prices:

      Where do you get your info and why are you so interested in pushing people to buy? This can get the young ones, in particular, into trouble. They need to be mobile with their labor, and I’ve seen young families get into real trouble when they get over-leveraged.

      I made a chunk of change in US real estate in despite the recent unpleasantness and was ready to buy in Canada (I’m not in Vancouver) — until I arrived and observed the market. Now I’ll watch the market for at least two years before I decide if I want to build or buy.

  11. In an environment where prices begin to fall, what percentage of property owners have to decide to sell for a market to crash?

  12. It’s irrelevant how many owners sell if there are several buyers for each property. Thus, the answer is in MOI vreaa. We need sustained months of inventory above 15 to produce month over month price decreases. That means we need 15x more sellers than buyers. These conditions are rare in Vancouver (once in 30 years) and cannot be sustained for longer than a few months (the high 2008/09 MOI produced such a backlog in buyers that the market sprung forward with incredible force).

    • Rusty,

      How many houses do you own? Think about this — gas prices stay high, and interest rates slowly rise over the next five years. People are already willing to buy houses 4 & 5 times their income and have little other investments.

      Buyers cannot sustain higher housing prices and the market slowly starts to melt (2-4% per year).

      How many landlords will put their houses on the market if people get concerned about falling prices? What will that do to the market?

      How many young couples can afford that sort of melt and loss of their downpayment? What will it mean for the over-all housing market?

      I do not think Canada will crash like the US. (I less then a 10% chance of a large drop over 3 years.) I think it’ll be a slow melt or prices will stagnate until inflation catches up.

      • yank,
        go to a landlords association meeting (BCAOMA) and tell me how many hair trigger sellers you see there. Most landlords I know are in it for the long haul. And the element you’re not understanding is, as soon as a landlord sells a property they stop earning money.

        A young couple should start with a condo. If that couple waits until they’re in their mid 30s to being the property ladder then what we end up with is a bunch of bitter entitled bears like this site.

  13. rusty -> I think we disagree on ‘demand elasticity’.
    You suspect that, if prices pull back at all, many buyers will step in, and that we’ll only see sustained drops if there is a high MOI.
    I, on the other hand, think that there is a very large speculative component to current buying (almost all buyers at these price levels are only buying because they believe prices will continue upwards). I therefore believe that demand will dry up very very quickly if/when there is any indication that prices are falling. In that case one will get rapidly rising MOI, but it’ll not be a leading indicator… By the time MOI goes over 15, the market will already be crashing.

  14. there was more speculation prior to 2008 correction, and all it produced was 18% decline.
    We’ll have to agree to disagree. Until then, you continue with your path and I’ll continue with mine.

    • there was more speculation prior to 2008 correction, and all it produced was 18% decline.


      are there any other boards where i can read you? i am building a tolerance and need greater amounts for lulz.

    • there was more speculation prior to 2008 correction, and all it produced was 18% decline.

      Sure, if you ignore the massive intervention into the markets by the BoC and the Government:

      – Emergency Interest rates.
      – Buying of mortgage debt by the BoC and giving new liquidity to the banks for it so that they didn’t need to go into the bond markets to refinance and thus being able to offer low interest rates.

      You housing “geniuses” always amaze me, the only thing that happens in the world is what happens in your bank account and what else is happening will never affect you.

      Give your head a shake. You may want to read some of the inquiries that came out late last year from Congress after they looked at the actions of the Fed in the US and maybe then it will dawn you just how close the entire financial system came to a collapse after Lehman imploded.

  15. yank,
    I’m not pushing people to buy. I’m pushing bears to stop pushing people to support their “sky is falling” agenda.
    Case-Schiller? That explains your warped data.

    • I’ve never seen anyone have that reaction to Robert Schiller before. He’s very moderate in his speech and predictions. And the Case-Schiller index has never been controversial.

      Well, it looks like we need to agree to disagree. You may have a different risk tolerance then I do. Or you may have confidence that the market will continue to rise at the same rate. Or you bought before the market boom and aren’t leveraged in the way required of new buyers.

      In any case, as veera says – this isn’t a “sky is falling” sort of site. I find the market in Vancouver to be fascinating, because it does seem to be not rational. However, I don’t hold myself up as someone who is positive about what will happen in this situation.

      I’d also have to say, I think it would be a really bad idea for a young couple to buy a condo if they want children anytime soon. They could get stuck in that condo for years with a growing family. And the mortgage pre-payment penalties in Canada reduce their ability to get out without a loss if they want to move within 5 years.

      In any case, good chatting with you and best of luck.

  16. so rusty, what’ll it be?:
    1. rusty 12:08pm – “you continue with your path and I’ll continue with mine”,
    2. rusty 12:16pm – “I’m pushing bears to stop pushing people to support their “sky is falling” agenda.”
    Again, you seem deeply ambivalent.

    We really are calling the markets as we see them. We think Vancouver RE is in an absolutely classic speculative bubble and that the consequences on the way up and down will be profound. VREAA is part of the documentation.
    We aren’t “pushing” and don’t have a “sky is falling agenda”; we don’t think we have any real influence on the outcome. The bubble will look after itself.

    If you want to take part in civilized discussion, hang around; but, if you feel “pushed” and incited to do “pushing” here, then it’s probably too unpleasant a place for you and you should probably take your discussion elsewhere.

  17. civilized discussion? Do you advocate for your posters to name-call, insult?

    “pushing” is poster Yanks word. I merely used it to respond in kind. I’m not pushing anything. I’m advocating for people to keep renting and keep making me more and more money

    There are two sides to each coin. So far I think I’ve given a pretty accurate accounting of the other side. You can delete my postings if you don’t like what you’re reading VREAA. I’m sure you’d have the backing of a lot of bitter, frustrated posters here.

  18. No offence, mate, but you seem the most bitter and frustrated poster who has visited these pages in a while. You seem to be desperate to convince yourself, through the act of convincing others, that something you no longer believe in deep down is the truth.

    (Having been an extremely bitter, frustrated, unstable poster here myself in times past, I am well placed to recognize your mental state. It takes one to know one, as they say).

    While VREAA’s purpose is not to push a “sky is falling” agenda nor to “make us feel better” as alluded to in a previous thread, but rather to photograph a predicted volcanic eruption from start to finish, so to speak, I can testify that the archive’s existence has had an (unintended?) consequence. Of course I can only speak for myself when I say this:

    The information presented on VREAA, taken in its entirety, gives a picture of Vancouver real estate markets in an international and historical context. It reveals that far from being “normal”, this is an exceptional set of circumstances we are all living through.

    I believe that is the one thing all parties: bears, bulls, and observers, agree with.

    Having been none of those, simply a Joe Public, I went through life believing conditions of the past six years were normal. I did not have even the slightest notion that the market may by its inherent character squeeze many want-to-be-participants without any special leg-up into less than ideal circumstances and literally exclude them from what they may easily attain in most other markets around the world and in times past.

    Psychologically, the consequences can be devastating. If the market was normal, then clearly my wife and I were not. It left us feeling inadequate, feeling left behind, mumbling apologies almost to people we met that we were “still renting,” mumbling that we were saving up to buy a house, apologising for being losers.

    Well, it took only six months after discovering VREAA, but today I walk tall, I hold my head up. I do not question my worth as a human being. I do not question my ability to support my family. I do not question my worth simply because I rent. I say it with pride and with no shame: I rent. I cannot afford to “buy” a dwelling suitable for my family. And guess what? I have met others in the same situation, mumbling in shame about their “still renting” status. And I say, relax, brother, it’s not you.

    We don’t have to feel that we are worth less than those that “own”. We are the victims of strange circumstances, of strange times.

    The trouble is, if you were kept for ten years in a room where everything is black and white, you would never know that things come in many colours unless you left the room or were provided with a window. VREAA along with a few other blogs is that window for many.

    Like social media in repressive regimes, it funnels in information showing that life may be different elsewhere, and things may not be as normal as the prevailing ideology would have us believe.

    Now, it does not matter whether the rise in prices continues, whether there is a soft landing, whether the bubble collapses and real estate melts. It does not matter if we end up moving, if we end up renting forever, if we buy a home here. All that matters today is that I know – that we know – that THIS IS NOT NORMAL.

    • oh, jealous, bitter, basement dweller bear!

      work harder! why are you people so lazy??

      • lol!

      • there are lots of homes you can afford


      • (i just thought of the one place ‘rusty’ won’t consider buying! SPUZZUM! lol)

      • Good handle! I may have to rechristen myself on occasions… kind of like wearing a suit instead of my raggedy t shirts and jeans…. or should I say bear suit… if VREAA allows.

    • “Well, it took only six months after discovering VREAA, but today I walk tall, I hold my head up. I do not question my worth as a human being…”

      so this is self help group for the marginalized “would be buyer”.
      Say it with me now, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggonit, people like me”

      And I agree, you are not worth less for not owning. However, you are worth less for coming to these sites to share your misery and attempt to justify your weak position.

      • share my misery? Maybe in the past. Now I come to share my joy!!! JOY!!! at not having a big guillotine hovering over my financial neck.

        “attempt to justify your weak position”?
        lol I guess you should know about that. It’s what you do here every day!!

        I look forward to watching you start your own self help group for speculating owners that lost it all.

  19. on another note: anyone notice an increase in realtor flyer volume recently? it’s almost every day that I get big SOLD signs in the mailbox and we have more notepaper with smiley realtor faces taking up most of the writable surface than we will ever need. And literally one minute ago we got our second ever door-to-door realtor “do you want to know your house’s value?” sales call.
    Sign of anything?

  20. TPFKAA, great comment. We narrowly avoided buying into this completely abnormal market, as we thought it was just annoyingly expensive until we started doing more research. Now I feel we have probably avoided the biggest mistake of our lives. I call us ‘strategic renters’ – in more normal circumstances we would embrace home ownership. (We DO have 25% (!) down for a lower mainland SFH, and could easily afford to buy but refuse to do so.)

  21. Sorry, didn’t mean to imply anything negative about anyone who feels they can’t afford to buy here – I know many people don’t agree with ‘realtor affordability’ (‘look at this low monthly payment!’) but instead use more traditional guidelines for the amount of debt they feel comfortable taking on, so it’s not really a matter of ‘can’t afford’ but ‘don’t want to at current prices’.

    • if you cant afford vancouver, you just havent worked hard enough!!

    • Oh, not to worry. No negative implications assumed! I have noticed that thus far, practically everyone on the internet, myself included, feels like they have to say “We HAVE the money to buy, but just don’t want to…”

      I really want to get away from feeling obliged to assert our hardworkingness and/or frugality and/or career success and/or wealth and/or professional status before “admitting” we rent.

      The obligation stems from the need to uphold face, from an insecurity in a social context among peers. I don’t want to feel the need to make those kinds of comments any more… Nor to justify our renting as strategic – no offence intended on my part either – so I want to get away from such defences, and just say outright that we can’t afford a suitable dwelling, even if we stand alone in that position.

      The point is, that people who literally cannot afford the dwelling they need here could easily obtain it in many, many other markets. So no-one should have to feel bad if they literally cannot afford a high enough postition on the property ladder.

      I have to say that I also revel in the “strategic” nature of renting. I look for juicy stories about buyers struggling with payments or taking on ten tenants and lining the hallways with homestays while we enjoy our 2500 sq ft qith a 210 degree view of all the ski areas through to the golden ears mountain ranges. I take mean, jealous, bitter schadenfreudaic solace in those moments!!!

      I also have to say I concur with your observation of “realtor affordability” versus “traditional affordability.”

      (If anyone notices or cares enough to bring up my past tribulations with our current landlord, I will provide a detailed update; for now, in summary, let’s just say someone has been bending over backwards to ensure the happiness and comfort of his stable, long term grade A renters, so… things are looking good from our home with a view)

  22. TPFKAA, I thoroughly relate to your comment… as well as JCH about narrowly avoiding this crazy market. My husband & I had been defending our decision against all the homeowners we knew, because they could not understand why we would continue to rent when we were quite capable of owning. We just felt that we should wait and buy the dwelling we really wanted….not the one that we would have to fix up for the next person who bought it. If and when we buy our first house, it will be the one that meets OUR NEEDS until we’re old and need something different to fit our new needs.
    I am now a “happy renter”…but did not always feel this way. A while ago, I started looking into why everything was the way it was and found VREAA. I was looking for an intellectual answer, but had an emotional response because my story was being told without me ever writing it here. I have my answers, great intellectual answers that help me understand why everything is the way it is…personal stories like mine, that remind me there is sanity…and representation of the mania(Rusty) as to how we got here. Thanks VREAA!

  23. Pingback: Have 25% Down For SFH, Refuse To Buy – “I feel we have probably avoided the biggest mistake of our lives. I call us ‘strategic renters’ – in more normal circumstances we would embrace home ownership.” | Vancouver Real Estate Anecdo

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