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Posthaste: What Canada’s mysterious rise in insolvencies says about the economy – Financial Post

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Good Morning!

So what’s up with rising household insolvencies in Canada? In September they saw a 19% spike from a year earlier, the biggest annual gain since 2009. So far this year, there have been 102,023 consumer insolvencies, the second-most for the first nine months of a year in records dating back to 1987. True, the gains come from low levels, but they are accelerating at a pace that’s normally seen in times of economic distress.

“Obviously, this is not the typical cyclical climb in household credit stress,” write CIBC economists Benjamin Tal and Avery Shenfeld in a report this week.

We are not in a recession; unemployment before November was near multi-decade lows. Nor is this an Alberta problem. Ontario saw just as big a spike as this province which is enduring a prolonged downturn. The only provinces that escaped the national increase were Quebec and Saskatchewan.

Tal and Shenfeld say clues to why we are seeing higher insolvencies in what looks like a healthy environment — and a lesson for investors, lenders and monetary policy makers — can be found in the type of debt experiencing rising write-off rates.

Mortgage debt, where arrears have “trended steadily downward,” is not the problem. “It’s the performance of non-mortgage consumer debt that is the canary in the coal mine we need to watch for turning points in the credit cycle,” says their report.

More specifically debt where rates are tied to the prime rate that rose with Bank of Canada hikes in 2018. CIBC says writeoffs are up sharply on both unsecured lines of credits (ULOCs) and secured lines of credit (HELOC), but credit card debt, where rates are not tied to monetary policy, is not seeing this trend.

“Households have been shifting debt from credit cards to lines to save on interest costs but were then squeezed as rate on ULOCs began to climb.”

Tal and Shenfeld say there is a clear trend that increases in delinquencies are coming from interest-rate-sensitive products and much of that increase took place after rate hikes by the Bank of Canada pushed up the prime rate.

The takeaway is that the Canadian “economy, with its legacy of higher household debt, would be more sensitive to interest rate hikes than in the past.”

“If raising the overnight rate to only 1.75% could set off a climb in insolvencies, before any major job losses have been seen, it’s clear that taking rates to anywhere near what was historically neutral, or even where some models might currently put neutral, could prove to be overkill,” the economists conclude.

Here’s what you need to know this morning:

Posthaste: What Canada’s mysterious rise in insolvencies says about the economy – Financial PostPosthaste: What Canada’s mysterious rise in insolvencies says about the economy – Financial PostPosthaste: What Canada’s mysterious rise in insolvencies says about the economy – Financial PostPosthaste: What Canada’s mysterious rise in insolvencies says about the economy – Financial Post

  • Bank of England releases interest rate decision
  • Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Steve Clark, Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, make an announcement in Toronto related to housing in Ontario
  • RCMP hold news conference in Edmonton about charges laid in $15-million money-laundering operation linked to illegal online cannabis sales
  • Notable earnings: Nike
  • Today’s data: Canadian wholesale trade, U.S. existing home sales, current account balance

Posthaste: What Canada’s mysterious rise in insolvencies says about the economy – Financial Post

Women alive today will not see world gender parity in their lifetime, was the conclusion of a report that created a lot of buzz this week. This year’s World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report calculates that worldwide gender parity is still 99.5 years away, or more than a lifetime for most of us, as the chart by Bloomberg below shows. One of the major battlegrounds for parity is economic participation where the gap widened in 2019 to 57.8% from 58.1% the year before. This gap will take now take 257 years to close, compared to the estimate of 202 years in 2018. Technological advances have hit women with a “triple whammy”, says the WEF. There are more women in the roles hit hardest by automation, not enough of them are entering professions, often technology-driven, where wage growth is greatest and lack of care infrastructure and access to capital limits them from becoming entrepreneurs. “As a result, women in work too often find themselves in middle-low wage categories that have been stagnant since the financial crisis 10 years ago,” the report said.

Posthaste: What Canada’s mysterious rise in insolvencies says about the economy – Financial Post

— Please send your news, comments and stories to pheaven@postmedia.com. — Pamela Heaven @pamheaven

With files from The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg

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Economy

Canadian regulator lifts banks’ capital buffer to record, priming for post-pandemic world

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Banks in Canada

Canada‘s financial regulator raised the amount of capital the country’s biggest lenders must hold to guard against risks to a record 2.5% of risk-weighted assets, from 1% currently, in a surprise move that could pave the way for them to resume dividend increases and share buybacks.

The new measures, which take effect on Oct. 31, is a sign that the economic and market disruptions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic have abated and banks’ capital levels have been resilient, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) said in a statement.

But the regulator acknowledged that key vulnerabilities, including household and corporate debt levels, as well as asset imbalances caused by steep increase in home prices over the past year, remain.

In a sign of concern about the housing market, OSFI and the Canadian government raised the benchmark to determine the minimum qualifying rate for mortgages, starting June 1.

The increase in the Domestic Stability Buffer (DSB) to the highest possible level raises the Common Equity Tier 1 (CET1) capital – the core bank capital measure – to 10.5% of risk-weighted assets; a 4.5% base level, a “capital conservation buffer” of 2.5%, and a 1% surcharge for systemically important banks, plus the DSB.

The change “gives OSFI more leeway to loosen a restriction down the road, namely the freeze on buybacks and dividend increases,” National Bank Financial Analyst Gabriel Dechaine said.

OSFI felt it was “useful for the banks to understand what our minimal capital expectations are and to give them time to adjust to that… ahead of any lifting of the temporary capital distribution restrictions,” Assistant Superintendent Jamey Hubbs said on a media call.

Even with the higher requirement, Canada‘s six biggest banks would have excess capital of about C$51 billion, dropping from C$82 billion as of April 30, according to Reuters calculations.

That was driven in part by a moratorium on dividend increases and share buybacks imposed by OSFI in March 2020, although a pandemic-driven surge in loan losses has so far failed to materialize.

The Canadian banks index slipped 0.25% in morning trading in Toronto, while the Toronto stock benchmark fell 0.1%.

The increase is the first since the last one announced in December 2019, which did not come into effect as planned in April 2020, as OSFI made an out-of-schedule change https://www.reuters.com/article/canada-mortgages-regulation-idUSL1N2B636J that dropped the rate to 1% in March. It has maintained that level at its twice yearly reviews.

Prior to that, OSFI had raised the required level by 25 basis points at every twice yearly review since it was introduced at 1.5% in June 2018.

($1 = 1.2326 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting By Nichola Saminather; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Jonathan Oatis)

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Economy

Canada Economic Indicators

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Fed to focus on next steps to save economy – BNNBloomberg.ca

The economic indicators used to gauge the performance of an economy and its outlook are the same across most nations. What differs is the relative importance of certain indicators to a specific economy at various points in time (for instance, housing indicators are closely watched when the housing market is booming or slumping), and the bodies or organizations compiling and disseminating these indicators in each nation.

Here are the 12 key economic indicators for Canada, the world’s 10th-largest economy:1

GDP Growth

Canada's GDP grew by 3% in July as more sectors reopened – CBC.ca

Statistics Canada, a national agency, publishes growth statistics on the Canadian economy on monthly and quarterly bases. The report shows the real gross domestic product (GDP) for the overall economy and broken down by industry. It is an accurate monthly/quarterly status report on the Canadian economy and each industry within it.2

 

Employment Change and Unemployment

Key data on the Canadian employment market, such as the net change in employment, the unemployment rate, and participation rate, is contained in the monthly Labour Force Survey, released by Statistics Canada. The report contains a wealth of information about the Canadian job market, categorized by the demographic, class of worker (private sector employee, public sector employee, self-employed), industry, and province.3

Consumer Price Index

Statistics Canada releases a monthly report on the consumer price index (CPI) that measures inflation at the consumer level. The index is constructed by comparing changes over time in a fixed basket of goods and services purchased by consumers. The report shows the change in CPI monthly and over the past 12 months, on an overall and core (excluding food and energy prices) basis.4

International Merchandise Trade

This monthly report from Statistics Canada shows the nation’s imports and exports, as well as the net merchandise trade surplus or deficit. The report also compares the most current data with that for the preceding month. Exports and imports are shown by product category, and also for Canada’s top ten trading partners.5

Teranet – National Bank House Price Index

This composite index of house prices across Canada was developed by Teranet and the National Bank of Canada and represents average home prices in Canada’s six largest metropolitan areas. A monthly report shows the change in the index monthly and over the past 12 months, as well as monthly and 12-month changes in Canada’s six and 11 largest metropolitan areas.6

RBC Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index – PMI

Released on the first business day of each month, this indicator of trends in the Canadian manufacturing sector was launched in June 2011 by Royal Bank of Canada, in association with Markit and the Purchasing Management Association of Canada. RBC PMI readings above 50 signal expansion as compared to the previous month, while readings below 50 signal contraction. The monthly survey also tracks other information pertinent to the manufacturing sector, such as changes in output, new orders, employment, inventories, prices, and supplier delivery times.7

The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index

The Conference Board of Canada’s Index of Consumer Confidence measures consumers’ levels of optimism in the state of the economy. It is a crucial indicator of near-term sales for consumer product companies in Canada, as well as an indicator of the outlook for the broad economy since consumer demand comprises such a significant part of it. The index is constructed on the basis of responses to four questions by a random sampling of Canadian households. Survey participants are asked how they view their households’ current and expected financial positions, their short-term employment outlook, and whether now is a good time to make a major purchase.8

Ivey Purchasing Managers Index – PMI

 An index prepared by the Ivey Business School at Western University, the Ivey PMI measures the monthly variation in economic activity, as indicated by a panel of purchasing managers across Canada. It is based on responses by these purchasing managers to a single question: “Were your purchases last month in dollars higher, the same, or lower than in the previous month?” An index reading below 50 shows a decrease; a reading above 50 shows an increase. Panel members indicate changes in their organization’s activity over five broad categories: purchases, employment, inventories, supplier deliveries, and prices.9

Housing Starts

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) issues a monthly report on the sixth working day of every month, showing the previous month’s new residential construction activity. The data is presented by region, province, census metropolitan area, and dwelling type (single-detached or multiple-unit). The indicator is an important gauge of the state of the Canadian housing market.10

Home Sales

This key indicator of housing activity is compiled by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and is based on the number of home sales processed through the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Systems of real estate boards and associations in Canada. The monthly report from the CREA shows the change in home sales across Canada, as well as for major markets, from month to month. The report also includes other important housing-related information, such as the change (as a percentage) in newly listed homes, the national sales-to-new listings ratio, months of housing inventory, the change in the MLS Home Price Index, and the national average price for homes sold within the month.11

Retail Sales

Statistics Canada releases a monthly report on retail sales activity across Canada, with changes shown on month-over-month and year-over-year bases. The headline number shows the percentage change in national retail sales on a dollar basis; the percentage change in volume terms is also shown. The retail sales figures are shown by industry and for each province or territory, and provide insights into Canadian consumer spending.12

Building Permits 

The building permits survey conducted monthly by Statistics Canada collects data on the value of permits issued by Canadian municipalities for residential and non-residential buildings, as well as the number of residential dwellings authorized. Since building permit issuance is one of the very first steps in the process of construction, the aggregate building permits data are very useful as a leading indicator for assessing the state of the construction industry.13

The Bottom Line

The 12 economic indicators briefly described above show the health of key aspects of Canada’s economy: consumer spending, housing, manufacturing, employment, inflation, external trade, and economic growth. Taken together, they provide a comprehensive picture of the state of the Canadian economy.

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Economy

Canada adds jobs for fourth straight month in May

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B.C. saw close to 55000 new jobs in Septmber

Canada added 101,600 jobs in May, the fourth consecutive month of gains, led by hiring in the education and health services sector as well as in professional and business services, a report from payroll services provider ADP showed on Thursday.

The April data was revised to show 101,300 jobs were gained, rather than an increase of 351,300. The report, which is derived from ADP’s payrolls data, measures the change in total nonfarm payroll employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

 

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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