“I asked a group of young people how many of them thought they’d be in Vancouver in two years, and 17 out of 18 said that they would be moving.” – Mayoral Candidate Shauna Sylvester

“I was in a session the other day with a group of young people, and I asked them how many of them thought they’d be in Vancouver in two years, and 17 out of 18 said that they would be moving. They were tired of being evicted, they couldn’t find affordable housing. My daughter, Rowan, who is 23, can’t live in Vancouver because she can’t find an affordable rental.” [Goes on to discuss her ideas about housing policy]
Shauna Sylvester, Independent candidate for Mayor of Vancouver, from interview posted on youtube, Vancouver Sun, 5 Apr 2018

102 responses to ““I asked a group of young people how many of them thought they’d be in Vancouver in two years, and 17 out of 18 said that they would be moving.” – Mayoral Candidate Shauna Sylvester

  1. I’m skeptical. Sounds to me like she’s pandering to young voters and / or wants to propose large (taxpayer-funded) developments in “affordable housing”. Which of course will not help affordability in the least–on the contrary, subsidizing the cost of housing will only inflate demand further, and reduce the financial incentive for investors to fund new, non-subsidized developments.

    The only solution to this disaster is for market forces to assert themselves (and they will). Government should also get out of the housing market. No more subsidies, tax breaks, mortgage insurance, etc.

    When prices fall, there will be a wave of new rental stock as previously-unrented properties are brought to market. The owners of these properties, who are currently riding high on price gains, and not feeling pressured to generate rental income (with the attendant headaches of being a landlord) will suddenly be desperate to rent out their properties. Rents will fall, evictions will fall, and renters will have their pick of the litter.

    • white_angelo_blockchain_commando

      to see what govt-subsidized affordable housing looks like, at scale, go visit a former soviet bloc country

  2. backwardsevolution

    And to see what a government-engineered and manufactured housing bubble looks like, witness what happened in Vancouver and Toronto.

    The government threw everything but the kitchen sink at the housing bubble. If it faltered, they shored it up with various different programs. Of course someone responsible had to step in and take the punch bowl away. Had the governments (federal, provincial and municipal) not fiddled with the market, it would have fallen off a cliff in 2008.

    CMHC should be dismantled, like yesterday. The government should stay the heck out of all markets, and that means not holding interest rates down artificially for way too long, no grants for first-time buyers, no monkeying with amortization (they went from 25 to 30 to 35 to 40 years) – no nothing. No purposely bringing in huge amounts of rich immigrants in order to push prices into the stratosphere.

    Get out.

  3. backwardsevolution

    Yes, we don’t need further housing built by the government. There are tons and tons of units just being held for speculation purposes. Allow prices to naturally come down and these places will be available. There will be a glut of them.

  4. Link is malformed, should be: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E442fmas6Ik [or also include the &t=240 timestamp]

  5. Publicly funded housing can work very well:

    • F*ck public housing, Keith. If you’re such a fan of the nanny state, move to Cuba, or better yet, North Korea. It is immoral for the government to take what is mine, by threat of force, and give it to someone else (minus their cut). That goes for housing and it goes for everything else the state “provides”.

  6. Well done public housing is good for everyone. Well run private sector businesses provide needed or wanted goods and services, create jobs and pay taxes. Government done poorly, or privately run businesses run poorly (leaky condos) are a drain on society. The issue isn’t public vs private, what an ignorant and limited view of the world you have. The issue is doing it well.

    Three levels of government in Canada take money from you, by threat of fine and ultimately imprisonment, and give it to all kinds of people, and businesses, and non profit organizations. You should go where there are no taxes, perhaps a third world country of bribery and corruption would suit your values. Cuba and North Korea do it badly, Scandinavian countries do it well and they are the happiest western states. I’m pointing out that there are many approaches, not that your narrow viewpoint sees the positive in any government program or action. With your level of paranoia, I hope you’re well armed.

    • Commie Keith thinks coercion is just as valid as voluntary exchange, as long as it’s “done well”. This is a tyrannical worldview.

      Well, riddle me this, Keith:

      Open a history book, Keith. It never works in the long term. It always ends in misery and death.

      Scandinavia’s social programs are actually relatively new, and now being rolled back. What prosperity they enjoy is the product of market economies that predate lavish public spending (and, in Norway’s case, lots of oil).

      Have a gander:

      Speaking of Europe, this man, Toine Manders, does a better job than I can at elucidating the point. Keith is like the airhead woman in this exchange:

    • white_angelo_blockchain_commando

      trial and error … a problem: it is very often is difficult to discern in real-time what is well-run vs not … who will decide when a poorly-run enterprise is liquidated … the pubic sector has proven many times it cannot solve this effectively at scale … in the private sector, you simply go out of business and we move onto the next … this is perhaps its greatest advantage … but on a philosophic note, even when a govt/public is well done, it is still the social oedipalism … you don’t want to become the zoo animal that cannot be set free … nor the bear attracted to humans food … there is a role for helping those in need but not too much … btw, the scandinavian countries are now having a helluva time with migrants (imports actually) incompatible with their social contract

      • You couldn’t pay me to live in Sweden.

      • I myself am generally quite wary of the pubic sector’s agenda . . .

      • I live in Vancouver, and spent a week in Stockholm. I cannot believe the streets are so much cleaner there. No homeless, no domestic begging, 70% + union density, comprehensive social programs. We don’t have to be Sweden, and we don’t have to do everything the way they do. If a country has significantly better outcomes, it’s worth looking into.

      • Parts of Sweden thay were until recently peaceful have become a hellhole thanks to Islamic immigration. There are no-go zones. Car bombings. Skyrocketing rates of murder and rape. All attributable to immigrants, whose value system is incompatible with modern liberal society, and who the Swedes are too naive and goodhearted to keep out.

        Betcha didn’t go to Malmo.

  7. A western mixed democratic socialist economy is a long way from communism, as you point out the right wing cognitive dissonance so beautifully here: People who like Swedish government policy are commies! Sweden is not socialist! It’s a mixture of a regulated market economy with far stronger social programs than we have.

    Your “riddle me this” photo essay would be far stronger if it used the word “choice,” instead of consent. Consent can be coerced. Most of the housing in Sweden, and in Whistler is market housing. Non market housing is a choice, that people can consent to that fills a gap that the much heralded market won’t necessarily provide: housing for young families, people with pets, old people, poor people, people who aren’t white skinned. The market isn’t perfect, sometimes it’s really awful. Where it fails, we can choose or consent to have a government option. If it doesn’t work, we fix it, or scrap it and vote the idiots out that messed it up. You know, democracy.

    Where I live, about 40 – 45% of the population votes right wing, about 55 – 60% vote centre or left wing. Nothing wrong with policies that can cater to the needs and wants of most of the population. Your narrow minded ideological stance, that public policy choices have to be all market or all government has no real world basis.

    Tyranny is tyranny, there is market and corporate based tyranny just as surely as there is government tyranny. Choice is the key, to keep the tyranny on both sides in check. Mr. Manders makes the flawed argument of self determination – I have the right to do as I please, as long as it doesn’t violate the rights of others. His foundation statement is so general as to be useless in a real world civil society, all actions affect other people. We are all connected, we are not a bunch of autonomous free floating units.

    As for me being a commie, I own property and I have substantial investments in the stock market. When business and the economy and the property market do well, I make out like a bandit. Be careful labeling people you know very little about. Dictatorships never work, whether they are communist or not.

    • “You know, democracy.”

      My goodness, you’re smug.

      You’ve done nothing but confirm your belief in tyranny.

      If you don’t think Mr. Manders is right, and that we own ourselves and the products of our labor, then you have no respect for the individual. And, by extension, you have no respect for minority rights, because the smallest minority is the individual. It’s that simple.

      Individual freedom does not mean we are “autonomous free floating units”. Free people engage with others all the time. The key is that they may do so VOLUNTARILY, not forcibly.

      Just because the actions of free individuals may *affect* others, does not mean their actions *violate* others’ rights. Either you don’t grasp this point, or are deliberately trying to obfuscate it.

      You can’t force anyone to do anything against without violating their individual freedom–even if you were democratically elected. Who’s to say they voted for you and your policy. So, if we are going to live in a democracy–which, as Churchill said, is the least bad of all our options–we ought to limit the state’s power over the people to the maximum extent possible, and hence limit the potential for these violations.

      Saying a ‘mixed model’ is desirable is like saying a little bit of cancer is desirable. Either you appreciate the fact that coercion is bad, and seek to limit it, or you don’t and are eventually consumed by it.

      And… no “real world basis” for the importance of respecting individual rights? Are you kidding me? 100 million dead in the last century alone beg to differ.

      Really impressed by your “substantial” investments, though. That really validates your argument. Lol.

    • “A gap that the much heralded market won’t necessarily provide: housing for young families, people with pets, old people, poor people, people who aren’t white skinned.”

      Yes, Keith. Because none of these groups could ever have a roof over their head without government.

      You’re a virtue-signaling affront to human reason.


    • white_angelo_blockchain_commando

      often neglected in the discussion of public vs private are the debts incurred, on future generations … the arguments for large scale public solutions would be far more compelling if they were conducted with the constraint of zero deficits

  8. You have come to some astonishing conclusions from my arguments, so lets go back to the beginning.

    Vancouver has a housing affordability crisis. Since we haven’t solved it ourselves, it makes sense to look at successful solutions from other jurisdictions. In Vancouver about 5% of the housing stock is publicly funded. We are in the worst housing crisis of our entire history. In Sweden, about 30% of the housing is publicly owned, they are not in the affordability crisis we find ourselves. Years ago, the B.C. Liberals said they would not intervene in the market – and here we are. The market is not building affordable housing in this city – where the market fails, public policy has a role. According to you, this is tyranny.

    Mr Manders fails to flesh out the realities of owning property, and enjoying the fruits of his labour. In modern society, in order to have that, you need the rule of law. You need an army for defense of the society, a police force, enforceable contracts, title to your property, a court of law, and a system of punishment of crime. Rather a large government role already, and all we’re doing is earning a living, and buying a house and some consumer durables. Rather a lot of coercion, in terms of following laws that guarantee you property and enjoyment of the money you earn. The government has to issue the currency as well, unless you want to live in a barter society. So even people who are all about individual rights in the real world will have to rely on collective power to enforce them, or they will be lost. So we need government. So lets shift the dialogue to how much and what form.

    Democracy is the best of a bad lot – absolutely agree. “We ought to limit the states power over the people to the maximum extent possible” – no. The people in a free and democratic society should elect the level of state power they desire, because they won’t elect tyranny in a modern society. They will vote for a mixture of private and public institutions in the economy and society that best fits their values and aspirations.

    An economy that is a mixture of private and public is a cancer – no. If an economy has a larger role for the state, (e.g. Scandinavia) it should be judged on the outcomes – economic, life expectancy, crime rate, life satisfaction, happiness. We can emulate their philosophy if we choose, in a free and democratic society. If public institutions fail, they can be discontinued or sold. To dismiss them out of hand as a bad solution is to deny the success of public sector institutions the world over – the Norway oil industry policy that you pointed out would have served Alberta and Canada far better than our results so far.

    If you insist on labeling me, I will respond. No attempt to impress, just don’t want inaccuracies. We’re all capitalists in Canada, if we’re enrolled in the CPP. Even the hardline eat the rich unionists.

    • “In Vancouver about 5% of the housing stock is publicly funded. We are in the worst housing crisis of our entire history. In Sweden, about 30% of the housing is publicly owned, they are not in the affordability crisis we find ourselves.”

      How simplistic. The assertion is that government alone dictates housing affordability. The housing market is driven by many, many forces.

      (And, by the way, property prices have skyrocketed in Sweden. Along with Canada and a few others, it is one of the countries often considered to be at high bubble risk. Not saying that has to do with their government, just noting that it is not as affordable as you assert.)

      Also, how “publicly funded” is defined is crucial. In addition to housing that is financed directly by government, it should include housing that is indirectly funded via grants, property tax deferrals, taxpayer-backed mortgage insurance, and other subsidies. Considering all of these supports, 100% of housing in Vancouver can be said to be publicly funded.

      “Years ago, the B.C. Liberals said they would not intervene in the market – and here we are.”

      Again, you conflate correlation and causation. That the Liberals didn’t intervene (which is untrue, by the way, as they maintained and enhanced various public subsidies), it does not follow that our current situation is a result of this non-intervention. Again, there are myriad forces at play.

      Tyranny is the violation of individual rights and freedoms. You are trying to play it down, saying it’s only 5%, and that a little bit of government meddling is okay, it’s just a little after all. Well, when you are forced at gunpoint to hand over your property, it doesn’t matter how often you are forced. It’s still tyranny, even if you are forced infrequently.

      You fail to grasp what constitutes coercion and what doesn’t. Coercion is compulsion. You have to made to DO something. Compelled to do it. *Not* breaking the law is not coercion. Inaction is not coercion. You are only coerced when someone forces you to do something.

      “The people in a free and democratic society should elect the level of state power they desire, because they won’t elect tyranny in a modern society.”

      This is historically ignorant. Once the state is established it tends to grow and is very difficult to stop, let alone downsize. Perhaps you could name some cases where this has consistently occurred? As an example, how often are taxes eliminated or reduced, vs. introduced and increased?

      When granted enough power, the state becomes unstoppable. Citizens’ ability to change course is eroded and then removed altogether. Elections go from being free, to being shams, to being nonexistent. See Russia. See Cuba. See Venezuela. See China. See many others. History is riddled, RIDDLED with examples where people lost control over government. And the results have been catastrophic. Because power corrupts. It is a slippery slope, and thus important that the state’s powers be limited from the get-go.

      Re: Scandinavia. You didn’t address the article I posted.

      • Terrymerry

        I live in wha property in whistler. It is NOT publicly funded nor taxpayer subsidized. When a developer is given the green light for a project they must throw in a few units at non market price.. Mine was about $225.

    • In Sweden, about 30% of the housing is publicly owned, they are not in the affordability crisis we find ourselves.

      Stockholm is one of the few cities in the world with a bubble that can potentially rival Vancouver and Toronto. Sweden spends $3.5 billion US per year directly subsidizing peoples’ mortgage interest, much of which ends up in the pockets of high income earners, because even they couldn’t afford their mortgages otherwise. Amortizations in Sweden run over 100 years, sometimes more. Almost half the mortgages in the Greater Stockholm area are interest only. How the HELL do you conclude that Sweden does not have an affordability crisis? Is it as bad as Vancouver? Not yet. Does Sweden as a whole have a worse housing bubble than Canada as a whole? You’re damned rights they do, because mortgage rules and incentives have been even looser for longer.

      I don’t want to give you any links because that gets comments stuck in moderation limbo. Just use Google for crying out loud. Sweden’s housing policy is an unmitigated disaster.

  9. The Chretien Liberals reduced the size of the federal government right here in Canada, from about 17% of GDP to about 13%. Of course Stephen Harper turned that progress around and increased it back up to about 16% of GDP. Government gets smaller when there is sufficient public support to make it politically possible. You know, when the people choose. Or there is the country going broke, which reduces the size of government when the World Bank and IMF take over and strip away all social programs and sell off all publicly owned assets. Hasn’t happened to any western democracy yet, but it’s a failure in all the Third World countries its been done. Read Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

    • Yah, about that. Chretien was forced to cut spending by the bond market. As David Dodge tells it, we nearly had a failed t-bill auction in 1994. That scared the crap out of the government. The 1995 deficit cutting budget was the direct result of that. It had nothing to do with public support, nor did it have anything to do with Chretien’s platform promises (the vaunted “Red Book”, which promised, among other things, to eliminate the GST and to avoid deficit slashing). So much for your theory.

  10. The state will never become unstoppable in a western democracy, because more than enough people have money and connections to leave if it gets too ugly. History doesn’t alway repeat.

    • Your ignorance is stunning.

      Germany was a western democracy pre-30s. He was freely elected, and people thought he would be a normal head of state. How’d that turn out?

      Look what has happened to Venezuela. There were lots of rich and connected people there. Didn’t help.

      Look what happened to Zimbabwe, the former breadbasket of Africa, under Mugabe. Look what is happening right now in South Africa. It is imploding.

      The list goes on.

      My god, man. Read a book.

    • He = Hitler.

  11. How often are taxes reduced or eliminated? Well if you make 400k per year in B.C., your tax cut this century for provincial income taxes alone was 39k under the B.C. Liberals, so the answer is it depends on how rich you are.

  12. Well, if your fantasy of a western democracy turning into a Nazi or Communist dictatorship causes you to lose sleep, I feel sorry for you. The idea that a Hitler could rise to and stay in power in a western country is absolutely laughable. The German people were desperate for hope, and they were hoodwinked. Today the moment anyone suspends democracy in a modern western nation, capital investment and trade will dry up, interest rates will skyrocket and people will emigrate in the millions. No one will get elected on that platform and if they lie about it no one will stick around for the hard times. The thirties are ancient history, it’s not going to happen that way around here.

    Venezuela nationalized the entire single industry that it has, the oil industry in 1976. That’s not a democratic socialist mixed economy, it is in practical terms a communist dictatorship with state ownership of industry. Calling themselves socialists just feeds the misunderstanding and miscommunication. It’s a totally corrupt dictatorship with rigged elections where the form of government is irrelevant. There is no rule of law. It has been that way for quite a long time and the people that believe in democracy left a long time ago, and good for them.

  13. Here’s a short, non conservative view of Sweden after the crash of 2008 – social programs intact, surplus budgets, progressive taxation, inclusive society, not a communist in sight.


    • This article sounds like it was written by a high school student.

      “We saw a music class where students were playing flutes and guitars.”

      Lovely! Now give me 70% of your income or else you will be taken by armed officers to live in a cage.

      Here’s a fun quote from the same piece: “Sweden is not without problems, and we heard about several, particularly involving the social and economic integration of migrant and refugee communities.”

      This article was written in 2013. That problem has gotten immeasurably worse since then. As I posted above, parts of Sweden are now no-go zones. There are bombings. Mass rapes. It’s so bad that some bands, like Mumford & Sons, refuse to play at outdoor festivals there.

      The Swedish model ‘works’ because Sweden has historically been an ethnically and culturally homogenous, highly industrious society, with strong shared values and a respected social contract. This level of cohesion has allowed wealth redistribution to be more tolerable than it might be elsewhere. You can’t say it will last (indeed, with migration problems it is falling apart), nor that it can be successfully replicated elsewhere.

      You have named a single and rather peculiar case study — Scandinavia — for your utopia, Keith. An outlier. I can name dozens of cases where similarly-minded policies led to death and disaster.

      • You posted an outlier first. It is the only article of its kind, although it is repeated immensely all over the web. There are dozens of articles about Swedish and Scandinavian models, from a variety of sources. Read what Sweden has to say about Sweden. Read what wikipedia has to say about Scandinavian social programs. It’s not only Sweden. Germany has excellent social programs, strong unions, a shorter workweek and much higher productivity.

        Despite the foreboding in your arcticle, there has been no change in the fundamentals of the Swedish welfare state. Universal medical, dental pharmacare, pensions, and a strong worker/union friendly labour code remain in place, along with progressive taxation and surplus budgets. Sweden had a strong economy before the social welfare state, and despite having been in place for decades and decades, remains in place. If it wasn’t working, the social programs would be history or Scandinavian countries would be under the care of the IMF and the world bank. Strong social programs and a strong economy can go together.

        The reason Swedish social programs work is that everyone pays into them and everyone benefits from them. In North America they are much more about redistribution, which causes dissent. Make them strong, and universal. They are a source of social cohesion as well as a result of social cohesion. Scandinavian governments don’t play the politics of divide and conquer so beloved of North American political strategists, they are nation builders not political animals.

        Scandinavia is not the only part of the world with progressive social values, strong social programs, and high union density. The same could be said about much of western Europe, and the England, Canada and even the U.S. from 1945 – 1980. Sadly Reagan, Thatcher and Mulroney used an incorrect and bastardized model from the Chicago School of Economics to begin the undermining of our social safety net and labour laws that had been part of decades of strong stable societies and powerful economic growth. Scandinavia and Europe kept their programs largely intact, not without challenges. Ours have been weakened over time, and we will be paying a heavy price in the decades to come.

        I can’t say it will last, well it has lasted with a much smaller population (no economies of scale) for a long time since North America and Britain turned away in the 1980’s – over thirty years and counting. Parts of Sweden are no go zones, there are many many neighborhoods in North America that I would recommend that you stay well away from. It’s new to Sweden, its not new to us.

      • Sweden and all of Western Europe are toast. Low fertility rates among native Europeans + mass migration & cultural capitulation = sharia law for the land within two generations. That, and unsustainable social welfare. Canada on the same path under Trudeau. U.S. not far behind, but has unique protections (1st and 2nd amendments).

        Commie Keith has blind faith in government. Thinks bureaucrats are noble, wants to give them more power. Cites Germany as model. Ironic. The German people gave Hitler and his gang power, turned out to be tyrants who committed some of the most unimaginable atrocities in human history.

        Open a history book, Keith. The concentration of power is never good.

  14. Neo-Marxist Keith, who hasn’t read a history book in his life, tries to pull the wool over our eyes. He speaks in definitive terms (a red flag), assuring us that bad things will “never” happen… as long as you shut your mouth and trust big brother. It can’t happen here, you see, because unlike all other humans in history, us westerners are infallible.

    A very naive, dangerous unawareness of the fragility of democracy, of the rapidity at which countries can sink into darkness.

    A useful idiot.

    Go to Malmo, Keith.

    • I think Mogadishu might be excellent for El Ninja, no gov’t, no taxes collected by fear of confiscation,, it’s a pure libertarian paradise of personal rights and responsibility.

      • Wrong. It’s one of the authoritarian places out there, thanks to radical Islamic gangs that control virtually every aspect of citizens’ lives.

      • No Government -> check
        No laws -> check
        Ability to do whatever you want if you are up for it -> Check
        Be a modern day pirate -> Check
        Sounds like a libertarian paradise to me!

        Oh wait, you mean you don’t have those freedoms & safety stuff like you do in Canada where you don’t need to bow to some gang who got more bodies and guns than you? Hmmm….if only there is a way to get rid of those gangs so people can walk around and do work without worry about getting shot, robs, killed, etc….If only there is a way to do that.

      • space889, whose “arguments” on Vancouver housing were thoroughly demolished, is reduced to a backbench heckler.

    • “The fragility of democracy” made me wonder about the relative strength of democracies in the world. Look at all the Scandinavian countries in the top ten. Look at free enterprise private health care USA at #21, nestled in the flawed democracy category. Here we have at a minimum a strong association with strong social programs and strong democracy. Larger role of government associated with stronger democracy.


      • Commie Keith doesn’t grasp difference between correlation and causation. Draws connections freely to suit narrative, provides no evidence of causation.

        Blindly believes more government = better.

        Reality: Countries are complex, multivariate systems. Different populations, different histories, different everything.

        One rule holds fast, though: concentrating power in the hands of a ruling elite has never, in any place, or at any point in history, turned out well for the people.

        Scandinavian experiment only a couple of generations old. Time will tell. Easy to implement with small, homogenous population.

        No one said USA is perfect. Far from it. More checks and balances than Canada, though.

      • El Ninja can’t grasp the difference between causation and association. One Scandinavian country in the top ten wouldn’t prove anything. Four in the top ten, tells me that democracy in Scandinavia is doing nicely. I could call it causation, but under the principle of conservatism I said strong association. I stand by my assessment of the results of the study.

        No one said the U.S. is perfect. In terms of healthcare outcomes, health of inner cities and a myriad of other social issues some people call it a disastrous mess. Los Angeles latest homeless count clocks in at an unfathomable 55,000. Not much of an issue in Scandinavia, what with their comprehensive public private hybrid housing policies. The checks and balances you reference have created a constipated legislature characterized by lobbying and pork barrel politics that bear little relationship with the needs of the constituents it purports to represent.

        “One rule holds fast, though: concentrating power in the hands of a ruling elite has never, in any place, or at any point in history, turned out well for the people.”

        What an interesting statement, what would be your comment about limited government and low taxes contributing to wealth (power) accumulating in the hands of a few unelected plutocrats. How is the extreme Gini coefficient in the U.S. working for democracy and the health of the general population?

      • Comrade Keith, if you think that concentrated political power is a good thing, there is really nothing more I can suggest for you than to read a history book. Or better yet, move to a place that has taken your logic to the extreme. North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia.

        And get over your Canadian/Scandinavian superiority complex and U.S. bashing. It’s nauseating. Lots wrong with the U.S. But it’s got a lot right, too.

        Equality of opportunity is eminently desirable. Equality of outcome is absolutely not.

      • What I have consistently promoted in my comments is a mixture of public sector and private sector choices. A strong economy, progressive taxation, regulation in the public interest, a fair return for shareholders, and a strong social welfare system. A middle of the road, inclusive society. If that’s your definition of communism open a book, or read a wikipedia entry.

        El Ninja sees the world as extremes, advocating for a larger role of government in providing housing is equated to promoting a communist dictatorship with attendant purges of the population.

        Why would I move to an extreme place? I like owning a home, I rely on a strong business sector to finance my retirement, I like living in a middle of the road country. Not communist, not unfettered capitalism … sounds like Canada. Borrowing a few successful ideas from some other democracies, life would be even better than it already is.

      • Keith the Commie keeps coming back for more insights. I’m flattered.

        Alas, I value my time more than his education.

      • Keith, are you aware that the only countries with higher household debt levels than Canada are often Scandinavian countries?

        Here are household debt figures as percentage of GDP:
        Denmark: 127.5%
        Netherlands: 121.9%
        Cyprus: 117.2%
        Norway: 107.8%
        Australia: 106.8%
        Switzerland: 101.6%
        Canada: 101.5%

        And here are the top 7 indebted households as measured against $100 of disposable income:
        Denmark: $241.22 !!!
        Netherlands: $212.9
        Cyprus: $196.56
        Norway: $194.97
        Australia: $185
        Switzerland: $178.57
        Canada: $173.34

        Sweden would be #8 on both lists, but I chose to include only Canada and those countries with more indebted citizens than ourselves.

        Now, do you notice any commonalities among the Top 7 Most Indebted? Do you notice that most of them have governments that are quite solvent, with very reasonable amounts of public debt, but that their private citizenry are drowning in debt, while the tax rates – with the exceptions of Switzerland and Cyprus – are even higher than ours?

        Take Norway for example. We always hear about how rich they are with their gigantic 1 trillion USD sovereign wealth fund. What we don’t hear about are the tax rates required to build such a sovereign wealth fund while maintaining a Cadillac social safety net. (Yah, I know, they use oil revenues to build the wealth fund, but they still require sky-high taxes to cover their social safety net.) Nor do we hear about the high levels of indebtedness endured by the citizens in order to maintain their standard of living, while paying those high taxes. Is that the direction you would have Canada move toward?

        If the “mixed economies” were as spectacularly successful as you believe them to be, their citizens – including Canada – would not be drowning in debt just to afford a roof over their heads. And if Canada were to become even more “progressive”, to reach the level of progressive utopia of say a Norway or a Denmark or a Netherlands, how much higher would our tax rates and our personal debt levels need to be? Is that a cost you’re willing to pay?

        Finally, how do you propose Canadians, Scandinavians, and Dutch ever dig themselves out from under the massive burden of debt we’ve created for ourselves? More taxes and more social spending?

      • Raging Ranter, I googled why people in Denmark have so much debt. It seems that countries where people have high levels of assets, in a low interest rate environment citizens are a really good credit risk.

        Clearly financial institutions believe that this level of debt can be serviced in these countries where people enjoy a high level of economic security. Homes are highly valued because the countries on your list are desirable places to live, because strong social programs are desirable not to everyone, but to a large number of people.

        The savings rate in Canada has been plummeting since interest rates peaked in 1981, and the ability and willingness of people to be in debt has grown substantially. It’s not how I choose to live my life, because I was raised by generations of financially cautious frugal people, but I submit at the current level of interest rates people have gone into debt because being a saver is simply far less attractive than it used to be. Clearly financial institutions are comfortable with extending the credit. Many many many people have said that the expansion of credit that goes back decades will end in tears, but betting that way hasn’t paid off so far in Canada.

        How will Canadians pay off the debt? People without assets won’t pay off their debt, but they can’t borrow much. The average bankruptcy in Canada is about $37,000 so clearly charging credit card interest rates on unsecured debt is a profitable business, and people can’t borrow that much before they get cut off. Most full time Canadian workers make more than 37k. People who own real estate won’t have any problem at all. It’s back to the reality that money is super cheap by historical standards, houses have become super expensive, real wages have been frozen for a majority of the population for decades, and these are the consequences. I think the financial institutions have sucked people into making interest costs a major expense in their lives, but if the wealth effect of increased real estate equity allows people to make foolish decisions, so be it. Maybe it will end in tears, with a fire sale of Canadian assets, maybe it won’t. Financial crisis is hard to predict. Just ask Garth Turner.


      • So you Googled that Danes have high debts because they have lots of assets and therefore are good credit risks. Many analysts and professional fund managers made the same argument in the US circa 2007.

        Have you not heard of a credit cycle or a credit bubble or a Minksey moment? Look them up, please. I just presented statistics that show Danish household debts, not in nominal terms, but measured against A) National output, and B) disposable incomes. In either case, they are off the charts.

        Debts are secured by assets. They are not serviced by assets. Only INCOME can service debts. Normally, for high debts to be justified, the assets behind those debts would have to produce high income streams. Obviously that’s not happening in either Norway nor Denmark, because their debt-to-GDP and their debt-to-disposable incomes are through the roof.

        Furthermore, when everyone tries to sell their assets at the same time to pay off debt that they’re income can no longer service (precisely what happens during a credit crisis), those assets plunge in price, and can no longer cover the debts.

      • And by the way, Garth Turner has never predicted a financial crisis (not even in 2008 when it was happening) and still stubbornly insists there will not be another crisis of that magnitude in our lifetimes. So I’m not sure what I’m supposed to ask him about predicting financial crises, since he doesn’t predict any.

      • I will now demolish Keith’s arguments more specifically by mapping them to the myths that enable their propagation among perma-bulls:

        Clearly financial institutions believe that this level of debt can be serviced in these countries where people enjoy a high level of economic security.

        The “banks wouldn’t lend the money if borrowers couldn’t pay it back” myth.

        Homes are highly valued because the countries on your list are desirable places to live, because strong social programs are desirable

        The “everyone wants to live here (or there)” myth.

        Clearly financial institutions are comfortable with extending the credit.

        The “banks wouldn’t lend the money if borrowers couldn’t pay it back” myth. Seriously? Twice in one post?

        Many many many people have said that the expansion of credit that goes back decades will end in tears, but betting that way hasn’t paid off so far in Canada.

        The “It will never happen because it hasn’t happened yet” myth.

        People who own real estate won’t have any problem at all.

        The “People have enough equity in their homes to withstand a crisis” myth.

        Maybe it will end in tears, with a fire sale of Canadian assets, maybe it won’t.

        The “I acknowledge there is at least the potential for a crisis” myth, when in fact you spent the entire post arguing the opposite.

        That’s EXACTLY what people like El Ninja and myself are worried about. We can’t flippantly dismiss the possibility of some future asset crisis as if it were some minor theoretical inconvenience. That’s what Greenspan did. That’s why he’s no longer called “the Maestro”, but in fact his name has become synonymous with bubbles and crises.

        I gave you statistics. Actual numbers that prove there is a massive, massive problem. You gave me beliefs, platitudes, and comfort sayings. To use one of my favourite Silicon Valley quotes, your head just disappeared up your asshole.

      • Raging Ranter;

        If you study the history of credit bubbles, the factor that bursts them is is a tightening of credit. Always. Garth Turner is an intelligent and well informed commentator, but if you read his blog he has a history of attempting to do something that Warren Buffett believes is impossible: predict interest rates. Garth has repeatedly predicted rapid rate increases that have failed to come to pass, to coin a phrase he has predicted twenty of the last four rate increases. He’s inconsistent on the consequences, sometimes it’s disaster, sometimes a “slow melt.”

        Rates are on the increase. Credit is tightening. No crisis yet. Doesn’t mean that it won’t happen here, but so far the government has staved off a more serious crisis by backstopping looser credit. Whether you like to admit or not, that can go on for longer than anyone would like to admit, just like an oversold or overbought stock. When the U.S. suffered through the financial crisis, mortgages became very difficult to get. In Vancouver, the price of homes fell 19% in six months, the government loosened credit and prices resumed their upwards march. Tell me with a straight face they won’t use the same strategy in the future. They can pump liquidity into the market, change down payment requirements again, authorize 40 year amortizations again. Two thirds of the single family homes in Vancouver are mortgage free. That’s a lot of equity against the household debt, even if that equity falls substantially. If house prices fell by 50%, that would be less than three years of equity gains from the halcyon years.

        We love to criticize our own country, and others. We have a modern democracy, a diversified economy and an enforceable rule of law. People are beating down the doors to come here because most of the world is far worse off, you should talk to some new Canadians and ask why they came here. You can call the desirability of Canada argument a myth all you like, the diversity in our major cities is the real evidence. Go for a walk and listen to all the foreign languages you hear.

    • [Guardian] – Berlin tops the world as city with the fastest rising property prices

      …”Berlin has emerged as the frothiest property market in the world, with the city engulfed by expensive highrise developments and speculative buying that threatens its traditionally low rents and hip arts scene.

      Prices in Berlin jumped by 20.5% in 2017, according to the property consultancy Knight Frank, with other German cities also displacing cities in China in terms of rising prices.

      Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Frankfurt were ranked in the top 10 in the world for price rises, with several Dutch cities not far behind.

      London was ranked 101st, with a 2% gain, while Auckland in New Zealand, once gripped by a property frenzy, dropped to 99th with a 2.2% increase.

      But attempts by the authorities in Vancouver to quell its soaring prices – including a 15% foreign buyer tax – appear to have stalled, with prices in the Canadian city jumping by 16% in 2017, the fourth fastest in the world.

      Berlin’s move to the top of risers followers several years of soaring prices; the average property price has increase by more than 120% since 2004.
      Foreign buyers have flocked into Berlin’s residential and commercial property market, with the US investor Warren Buffet agreeing a deal last month to acquire a top-end real estate agent in the city that sells apartments for as much as €3.8m (£3.3m).

      The boom has been fuelled by cheap borrowing and a fast growing population. The city’s population has grown by about 50,000 a year over the past five years to 3.5 million. It is projected to reach 4 million by 2035.”…


      • Germany will soon rue the day they gave up the deutchmark and joined the Eurozone. Millions of Germans already do. The old Bundesbank would have cranked up rates and ruthlessly crushed any speculative manias or inflationary pressures.

  15. white_angelo_blockchain_commando

    socialism may work locally, but so can anything … the problem arises at scale, as decision makers become increasingly dissociated from the consequences of their actions … any system of governing with this characteristic has a fatal asymmetry – no skin in the game … cooks have to eat their own cooking, or else

  16. 3579 Anzio Drive – a fascinating listing to analyze. Nicely pimped-out post-war box. Better than most staging. The interior says cool: mcm furniture; fancy fixtures and cabinets. Exterior says boring. Weird area – reserved for returning veterans – all the streets are named after battles in which Canadian men fought. Area was known as the Project, or Diaper Hill.
    Priced under assessed – no wonder. The lot is big, but it’s a dog’s breakfast pie shape; you will pay a ton of taxes for unusable land, and building new will be a challenge; flanked by a lane and the ass-ends of other houses. Other lane menaces the front and the street runs along side. Funny to look at Google Maps and see a guy on a ladder tarting up the front and another in back preparing for the big sale.
    Distance to Skytrain is far.
    With half a mil down, this box will cost you eight grand a month. The one bdr mortgage helper isn’t going to pit a big dent in that.
    What not to buy.

    • [Xinhua] – President Xi reviews navy in South China Sea

      SANYA, April 12 (Xinhua) — President Xi Jinping reviewed the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in the South China Sea Thursday morning, saying that the need to build a strong navy “has never been more urgent than today.”

      The navy review is the largest of its kind in the People’s Republic of China since its founding in 1949.

      Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), called for efforts to build a first-class navy.

      Taking part in the review were more than 10,000 service personnel, 48 vessels and 76 aircraft. They included the aircraft carrier Liaoning and latest submarines, vessels and fighter jets. More than half of the vessels were commissioned after the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012…

      …Soldiers saluted Xi as their fleets passed by.

      “Salute to you, comrades,” Xi called out to the soldiers.

      “Hail to you, chairman,” they replied.

      Xi alternated the greeting with “Comrades, thanks for your hard work,” to which soldiers replied “Serve the people.”

      The procession was directed by CMC Vice Chairman Xu Qiliang. Other senior military officials — Zhang Youxia, Wei Fenghe, Li Zuocheng, Miao Hua, and Zhang Shengmin were all present.

      “It is my utmost honor to be inspected by Chairman Xi,” said Ma Xiaohui, a navy soldier. “I will maintain momentum, train hard, and always be Chairman Xi’s good soldier.”….


  17. 135 17th Ave E: “award winner” on a no lane micro lot – only 2684 sq/ft – that’s the lot, not the house. Bought fewer than 4 years ago for the insane price of $2.11M. Listed at $3.018M. I viewed it back then and found it unpleasant. The original purchase price would still be ridiculous. Why would someone looking in this price range want a mortgage helper? And it looks like the knob listing it fudged the size of the house – probably included the garage. A dismal deal.

  18. Remember what I told you about population replacement?

    • 19 kids and counting….there is a whole community of these type of family in US. Another 60 years they will likely form majority in a lot of states in US.

      • Space-case, they say sex robots are the next thing. There is still hope for you.

      • They look like decent, humble, law abiding people. The kind who will work hard, eschew debt, buy modest houses, and look after their own. Canada would be lucky to have such families. But even if we did, their kids will never be the type to flock to Vancouver to buy over-priced real estate, so just what the hell is your point? Such families will NOT be rescuing over-priced urban real estate in the US or Canada.

      • With artificial intelligence developing the way it is, it’s only a matter of time before sex robots start rejecting Space just like flesh and blood females already do.

      • LOL.

  19. A friendly reminder:

    • The difference between lack of critical thinking skills and tin-foil conspiracy nut is a matter of weeks at best.

      • Space-case was indoctrinated by the totalitarian Chinese state. Now in the liberal democracy of Canada, he squanders the opportunity to freely access information and actually learn something.

  20. 10 years after the crash, 2.5 million homes in the US are still worth less than the money owing against them.


    Don’t worry though. It’s different here. Our progressive government and strong social safety net will ensure that the Canadian housing market will never crash. And if it does, homeowners will be just fine because they have lots of equity in their homes. It’s renters who will suffer. Some guy on the Internet told me that.

    • The story linked is behind the WSJ pay wall. But I’ve found little snippets of it here and there online. What’s astounding is that such a modestly priced cottage – $137K, could sink the buyer underwater by more than 50% (down by $70K at one point). 12 years later, his marriage is done, his dog is dead, and he’s still forking over mortgage payments to some bank in Alabama for a place he no longer owns.

      Get out there kids and buy those houses. Buy investment condos too. Do it NOW, or you’ll be priced out forever!!

      Pre-emptive responses:

      “Yabut, it was on the Gulf Coast. The oil spill ruined the beach, that’s why his property was almost worthless.”

      “Yabut, the US doesn’t have Chinese buying like Canada does. Everyone wants to live here.”

      “Yabut, Canadian mortgage rules are much stricter.”

      “Yabut, the government won’t let….”

      Insert your own perma-bull platitude here.

  21. Just catching up on this thread now, after a weekend offline. Wow, Raging Ranter has utterly destroyed Keith the Commie and his intellectual dishonesty.

    • Keith had already destroyed himself with his weak responses to your arguments. I just pointed out exactly where he destroyed himself. Kind of like a Coles Notes version of Keith’s Erroneous Talking Points. Hopefully I saved some readers a bit of time.

  22. Found a link to the full story referenced in the WSJ link above:


    Amazing that the article first appeared on Realtor.com – a real estate industry propaganda rag – of all places. Talk about waving the white flag. Can you imagine such a story appearing in any Canadian real estate industry publication?

    For those who argue that the US housing crash “wasn’t that bad because prices have recovered now,” let the above stand as a testament to just how utterly destructive it was. So destructive that ten years later, even the industry propaganda sites are still printing graphic warnings of the pitfalls of misguided real estate purchases.

    Let’s identify another myth shall we?

    Let’s call it the “The US housing crash wasn’t that bad because most people kept their houses and the market has fully recovered now” myth.

    • I’ve said it before: Canadians watched the U.S. housing disaster unfold in technicolour and… shrugged. Those dumb Americans. We’re smarter.

      We could have learned. Averted a similar fate.

      Instead, thanks to the superiority complex indoctrinated in us via the CBC, public schools, etc., we have not only failed to learn, we have taken their folly and RAISED it.

      The lesson is going to be so painful that people will be talking about it generations from now.

      And to those who say “it’s different here”, I say this: Of course it’s different. In some ways. In other ways it’s the same. So what? Is an exact replica of the United States required in order for you to draw inferences?

      No two people are the same, let alone two countries. Even one person isn’t the same from one moment to the next. But the experience of others is nonetheless useful.

      Imagine if medicine, or any human enterprise for that matter, was so shortsighted? So blind to its surroundings? Nothing would be learned, ever.

      “Yeah, go ahead and shoot heroin. Different body!”

      How totally, utterly stupid do you have to be?

  23. Ranging Ranter & El Ninja must have a good weekend circle jerking each other. Guess this is what happens when you have no life and can’t even pay to have people be in your company.

    • Normally I’d be out there hustling, squeegying windshields and turning tricks to pay my rent. But we experienced a major ice storm in Ottawa over the weekend and today. So I’m sitting here in the public library killing time on the Internet. They blocked all the good porn sites, so I came to VREAA.

      Having enough money for rent never used to be a problem back when I cooked my own stuff. But my last landlord evicted me for cooking meth in the bathroom. (Like, where else am I supposed to do it? I need a room with an exhaust fan to clear the fumes, duh.) Then because of the eviction, my ex-wife found out I’d relapsed, and so she got a court order to stop paying me alimony. Apparently a condition of the divorce settlement was that I would receive spousal support only so long as I remained clean. I thought they meant weekly bathing. Like I’d have signed that shit otherwise! Anyway, such is the life of a dirty, greasy, broke renter.

      What kind of tenants are occupying your cash-flow negative rental units right now Space? Are you sure you know what they’re doing in there? They’re renters after all, so they must be low-lifes. I mean, who else but criminal down and outers would ever have to lower themselves to renting?

    • Space pays to have people in his company.

  24. There’s now a name for this city’s rampant money laundering: “the Vancouver model”.

    What a disgrace.


    • white_angelo_blockchain_commando

      ref taleb … we once understood how to solve such problems and have forgotten what is necessary … https://tinyurl.com/y8xhwfm5

      • agreed. skin flayings would solve this lickety-split.

      • white_angelo_blockchain_commando

        west is wayyy soft on white collar crime, perhaps to its eventual demise … on this pt, i concur with the jihadists … there should be a category of white collar capital crime … flaying of such criminals, or whatever you’d prefer as equivalent, should return as a career choice

  25. Seeking Knowledge

    Fascinating article. However, I’m skeptical our governments will end up doing much for fear of losing out on the money grab and concern over privacy laws. I almost wish we had a benevolent dictator…

  26. [Global] – 19,000 investors bought their way into Vancouver. If the city has its way, they could vote, too

    …”Vancouver city council has asked the provincial government to let permanent residents vote in civic elections.

    The move is “important for the confidence and trust in our democracy,” said a motion that council passed unanimously on Wednesday…

    …Permanent residents are refugees, caregivers, skilled workers and sponsored family members.

    But they’re also investor immigrants, a class that has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years.

    These are wealthy people — until this year, they needed to have net worth of at least $1.6 million to become investor immigrants in Canada. That threshold was raised to $2 million in March.

    They’re invited to make an interest-free investment in Quebec of $1.2 million — in exchange for that, they receive permanent residency on the recommendation of the provincial government.

    Applicants are supposed to intend to settle in Quebec. But a vast majority have moved to the Vancouver area instead.


  27. Tell me more about Vancouver is appealing to Chinese money because of the “Asian community”, “frequent flights to China”, etc. etc. Give me a break.

  28. Even the perma-bulls admit as much. In the prior thread, Joan “I’m not a Realtor” Tommas said this: “You don’t think that student and that old lady paid for their houses with income do you?” Of course, many people know what’s really drive RE prices on the Lower Mainland (aside from insanely low borrowing rates, speculative mania and FOMO), but are perfectly OK with it because “that’s globalisation for you”. Allowing criminal money launderers to distort domestic housing markets seems perfectly OK I guess if you’re positioned to benefit from it.

    Until now, any politician or reporter who brought up the subject could be shut down with accusations of racism. The virtue-signallers can’t do that any longer. Not with reporters like John Hua on the case. There are enough Canadians of Asian descent that are sickened by what is happening that the “Your racist now shut up and go away!” strategy isn’t working anymore.

    Also, I suspect that the ever-so-progressive Canadian MSM is finally starting to feel some shame over the number of times they’ve been scooped by foreign news outlets. It’s beyond pathetic when Canadians need to refer to the South China Morning Post and the Epoch Times to find out what our own media refuses to tell us.

    • So true. (And I should hope that the MSM also feel embarrassed for their shameless cheerleading of this bubble.)

      That said, I don’t think reality has penetrated the minds of the masses yet. I just hopped up to Vancouver Island, which has felt huge ripple effects from the mainland. Small, isolated, resource-dependent communities have seen 25% price increases in the past year — driven up by an exodus of people from the Lower Mainland, and locals jumping on the cheap credit / speculation / FOMO bandwagon. Of course, there has been no significant improvement to local incomes, infrastructure, etc. that would justify this rate of appreciation.

      There is no understanding of economics, no sense whatsoever among people as to the sustainability of the forces at play. They all think they’re getting rich. They think they’re geniuses. That their “investment” has “doubled”.

      I find it troubling and sad, this collective ignorance. I don’t know what the future holds though. I can’t see it ending well.

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