The Canadian condo market is running into a precarious over-supply situation with large inventories slated to be entering the market in 2014 and 2015. Major centers such as Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto are witnessing a rapid pace of condo construction, despite falling sales. The demand for housing overall is slowing down, with sales in the last few months of 2013 falling on y-on-y basis. In most major Canadian markets there is an increase in listings and decrease in sales (even though prices are still somehow rising, which should in and of itself be indicative of a problem).
However, what is holding the housing market from the “steep and prolonged fall” that the American and periphery EU markets experienced is the extremely low interest rate offered by the banks in a bid to maintain their top line and bottom line. (Note: ~>70% of the mortgages in Canada are insured by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The banks therefore are more than motivated to lend for home mortgages). This “ZIRP” (Zero Interest Rate Policy) environment portends material volatility when it comes to an end, either voluntarily through the prospect of organic economic growth, or involuntarily through natural market forces coming to bear. The reason is that at no time in the history of the developed world has interest rates been this low for this long.
The caveat is, economic growth, the primary reason for cutting rates this low for this long – has never materialized, dispute the flood of free or even negative interest rate money that's been flooding the markets.
When (and that's "when", not "if") risky asset prices decide to revert to mean the snapback to bank balance sheets and economic profit has the potential to be devastating. Yes, even to those conservative Canadian banks.
Click to enlarge, and study carefully...
... and on the topic of "Bail-ins"
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