Bloomberg Calls Vancouver ‘The City That Had Too Much Money’

Known abroad primarily for its stunning Pacific Coast setting and athletic lifestyle, the city has since become one of the world’s largest sluices for questionable funds moving from Asia into Western economies. One academic terms the process “the Vancouver model”: a seamy mingling of clean and dirty cash in casinos, real estate, and luxury goods made possible by historic ties to China and by Canada’s lax record of fighting financial crime.

It’s a product of one of the largest financial flows of the 21st century: The money being frenetically shuffled by millions of wealthy Chinese into safe assets abroad, in defiance of their country’s capital controls. Since mid-2014, capital flight from China may have totaled as much as $800 billion, according to estimates from the Institute of International Finance.

In Vancouver, the tidal wave has wrought a dramatic economic, demographic, and physical transformation. Alberni Street, a formerly dowdy downtown thoroughfare, has in the past decade welcomed a two-level Prada boutique with a black marble facade, one of the largest Rolex showrooms in North America, and a 62-story tower with a five-star Shangri-La hotel. All have Mandarin-speaking staff. In May, Rolls-Royce chose Vancouver to unveil its first sport utility vehicle, which starts at more than $300,000, hosting a Champagne reception at its sleek new local dealership in an upmarket neighborhood about two miles south of Alberni. Six sold on the first day—bound, perhaps, for the “car condo,” a kind of luxe garage with customizable suites that’s being built in a majority-Asian suburb. The units start at more than C$800,000, and the first batch recently sold out.

Much of the money coming in has been legitimately earned, if sometimes extricated by gray-market means. But officials say that a substantial proportion is the proceeds of corruption or crime, including the illegal sale of opiates such as fentanyl. With public anger rising over astronomical housing prices and an economy distorted by wealthy outsiders, British Columbia’s left-leaning government—elected last year on a platform focused on calming the real estate market—is building a global laboratory for policies meant to restrain the arrival of Chinese money. The province is hiking taxes, toughening transparency rules, and tightening oversight of casinos and financial institutions.

Change will be difficult and fraught. Vancouver has been closely connected to Asia since the late 19th century, when the first Chinese laborers arrived to help build the trans-Canada railway, and the city is proud of its record of integrating immigrants. Also, beyond real estate, Vancouver’s economic base is shallow. It’s not the business capital of western Canada—that’s Calgary—and it has few major corporate headquarters or large-scale manufacturing operations. “Asian capital has kept this economy alive, end of story,” says Ron Shon, a Chinese-Canadian venture capitalist who arrived as a teenager in the late 1960s. “You can see it in every aspect of our lives.”

The money is arriving so fast, and in such volume, though, that standing by is no longer an option. Vancouver was perhaps the first major Western city to experience the full force of Chinese capital. Soon, it could be the first to learn what happens when you try to stop it.

– excerpt and image from ‘The City That Had Too Much Money’, Matthew Campbell & Natalie Obiko Pearson, Bloomberg, 20 Oct 2018

56 responses to “Bloomberg Calls Vancouver ‘The City That Had Too Much Money’

  1. Greedy Jim has too much money; so do the Thomsons. So does Bloomberg for that matter, but I like the guy.
    Can’t say that about Greedy Jim, the Billboard King – the VIP. The Vertically Integrated Parasite. I’ll visit his grave once that homunculus finally dries up. It won’t be to lay flowers.

  2. No mention in article of main factor: sustained, artificially low interest rates and concurrent leveraging and speculation by LOCALS.

  3. “Asian capital has kept this economy alive, end of story,”

    Maybe kept the economy alive, but it killed the city.
    In Spain I live with almost daily sun, for a tenth!!!! of the realestate price, a much better job (well I don´t depend on the local economy), a warm sea nearby, lots of hills and good skiiing on Whistler-distance and lots of green not too far away.

    In Vancouver maybe I had all that stuff closer by, but I never wouldve been able to survive the big drain of my savings. Now, happy wife, two kids, a lifestyle we can easily afford and we invest enough. If we´d lose all our sources of active income, we´d still get by.

  4. Question for everyone:
    Should a bear vote for or against PR?

  5. #MyDreamHome #YVRArchitecture #BPOE

  6. This is a rubbish piece of reportage. The gist of the article is: blame the Chinese.
    Natalie reports that some of the money coming into Vancouver is ill-gotten, that “officials say that a substantial portion is the proceeds of corruption or crime, including the sale of opiates such a fentanyl.”
    No shit, Natalie – what about Big Pharma? Who do you think manufactures most of that poison? Remember Thalidomide? No, better not to mention that – too many Bloomberg subscribers own stocks in those companies.
    Throughout the article she parrots Drumpf: China, China, China.
    One in five people in the world is Chinese. There are bound to be some bad ones.
    The influx of Chinese has been great for Vancouver. They deserve to be here.
    Without their work building the railway, Canada, as we know it, wouldn’t exist.
    Brutally exploited; given the most dangerous jobs – more than 600 died; no benefits; low pay; the Head Tax; denied permission to bring wives and family.

    • Very sad history. Doesn’t mean today’s Chinese deserve anything special.

    • Just say it. You like the money laundering astronaut families because they goose up the value of your house.

      • No, bear. Arnie is genuinely heartbroken about the Chinese railway workers. His noble call for retribution is truly inspiring.

        There are Chinese selling fentanyl, laundering money, evading taxes, and engaging in other criminal activities, you say? Speculating on housing? Exploiting our immigration system? C’mon, they’ve earned the right!


    • Arnie, stop being an apologist for Chinese money. It must be nice to be so deluded that you think Bloomberg gets it wrong while you have all the answers.

  7. Scary af.

  8. 2458 Yale St: one of Vancouver’s best locations with an unnamed “Italian designer” new-build. Punjabi builders should take note. There are excrescenses here that put them to shame. Hideous. Appalling. Barbarella meets Doctor No. The antithesis of good design. A good Italian designer would be proud to attach his name to his work – not to this thing. Doctor No Design Studio.

  9. Seriously, we have a money laundering problem, that is obvious. Real estate has been a favourite destination for that money. It’s easy. Buy a house with dirty cash, even if you over pay. Sell the house at an inflated or deflated price and the “new” money you are paid is “clean”. Buy the home with a numbered company or some such scheme and you are free and clean.

    Now, however, we have a different scenario occurring that may be being overlooked. We now have legalised cannabis. How many “commercial” gro-ops are/were there in BC? Thousands, I would guess. All of those thousands of homes, used specifically for cannabis production, will now be dumped onto the market. Homes in expensive area’s like West Vancouver were being used as well as old dumps in the fraser valley. Has anyone noticed an increase in the number of former gro-ops appearing in the listings? Will they come up as foreclosures?
    Interesting times…

  10. white_angelo_join_tarzan

    i see nothing, i hear nothing …

  11. Ruh roh.

    A sea of red…

  12. Guess what folks, my favorite illegal hotel is still in operation despite the ratting:
    4149 Osler St.

  13. 104 – 1139 W Cordova: bought last year for $7.6M. Listed at $12M. Does not compute.

  14. And the award for the most delusional seller goes to:

    1445 Queens Avenue, West Vancouver
    Aug 9:$5,100,000
    Nov 6: $3,990,000
    Change: – 1110000.00 -22%
    A: $3,119,700

  15. Condo flippers now getting burned:

    405 6011 No 1 Road, Richmond
    Jun 25:$499,000
    Nov 5: $399,000
    Change: – 100000.00 -20%
    A: $383,000 ( Sold 408k$ in Apr 2017)

  16. Vancouver edition:

    3058 Willow Street, Vancouver
    Aug 3:$1,038,000
    Nov 6: $919,000
    Change: – 119000.00 -11%
    A: $1,067,000

    528 E 55th Avenue, Vancouver
    May 2:$1,348,000
    Nov 6: $1,199,000
    Change: – 149000.00 -11%
    A: $1,355,000

    2507 1050 Burrard Street, Vancouver
    Jul 23:$1,588,000
    Nov 6: $1,388,800
    Change: – 199200.00 -13%
    A: $1,029,000 (Flipper alert: Sold May 2018 for 1.1M$)

    749 W 64th Avenue, Vancouver
    May 10:$4,880,000
    Nov 5: $3,980,000
    Change: – 900000.00 -18%
    A: $4,147,000

    3308 Wellington Avenue, Vancouver
    Jun 27:$1,850,000
    Nov 5: $1,550,000
    Change: – 300000.00 -16%
    A: $1,611,000

  17. Flipper burned:
    2797 Parker Street, Vancouver
    Apr 19:$1,690,000
    Nov 8: $1,288,000
    Change: – 402000.00 -24%
    A: $1,305,800 (Sold $1,382,800 [Why that amount?] in May 2017)

  18. Bloomberg has too much money; so does Greedy Jim; and the Grotesquely rich Thomsons – subscribe now; and porno pants purveyor Lululemon Wilson.
    Vancouver has too much money? No.
    God this city is fantastic. BPOE.
    The reportage is yellow peril garbage; that Natalie got paid to vomit it out is an affront.

    • “God this city is fantastic. BPOE.”

      Such a need to compensate would be laughable if it weren’t so common among dwellers of the “BPOE”. Particularly those who, like Annie, are not natives of Vancouver, and who now live in secret terror at the possibility that their choice of locale was a mistake (particularly with the disastrous turns the city has taken of late).

      People who are confident in themselves and their choices don’t need to brag.

      Annie, stop staring at yourself in the mirror. You’ll be late for your shift at Starbucks.

    • Are you ok? Your rants are getting more and more creepy and aggressive.

  19. white_angelo_join_tarzan

    mood seems to have darkened … contra-therapy …

  20. Federal gov issues consumer alert re: rising interest rates.


  21. Banks’ forecasts are about as useful (and impartial) as realtors’.

  22. 1812 Palmerston – bought 8 years ago for $4.75M. Assessed at $6.645M. Listed at $16.8M.

    Btw – several months ago I made the wise decision to never read any of Ninja the Toxic Troll’s posts. Never. It’s a relief. He drives away sane people from an ow useful site.

  23. If I were Chinese, I would be getting the h*ll out:

  24. Ninja the Toxic Troll – the sound of one hand jacking.

  25. Ruh-roh:

  26. Flipper burned ( in a nice part of town):

    4213 W 14th Avenue, Vancouver
    May 23:$3,030,000
    Nov 21: $2,300,000
    Change: – 730000.00 -24%
    A: $2,863,000 (Bought $2,880,000 in Feb 2016)

  27. 3549 Haida – the total package – horrendous house; horrendous staging; horrendous price – on a severely sloping west facing lot.

  28. 5398 Trafalgar: there’s a long pecking order of ugly here – the absurd ask of $6.15M for a west facing lot; facing a dreaded T junction; a nameless “well- known archetect (sic) and interior designer”; a nameless “reputable Westside builder”; a mindless layout with typical Punjabi bling of this “European Custom built Kerrisdale contemporary home”; capped with the ugliest piece of art over the toilet – a metaphor for this toilet of a house – a massive waste of energy and capital. A shiny turd.

  29. 1188 57th Ave – a high traffic street: bought 3 years ago for $3.76M. Assessed at $4.231M. Listed at $6.5M 3 months ago. Does not compute.

  30. I’ll just leave this here and back away slowly…

  31. white_angelo_join_tarzan

    ladies and gentlemens … this sucker is going down hard – all of it, everywhere, everything cb’s have juiced since ~ 2008 … time to play your best defense … cash, cash-equivalents and some pm’s … glta

  32. Even Government policy and natural market cycles are slowly cooling down real estate, assessed values in Fraser Valley has still seen gain in value, especially Chilliwack, Mission and Hope. Here Below is the Link for more Details :-

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