Here's the connection between low interest rates and the real estate correction. And a sneak peak at what (or who) will (or should) get blamed when the shit hits the fan.
Here is what Adrienne Warren, a senior economist for the Bank of Nova Scotia, said to a bunch of real estate people:
“We have a situation of rising multi-housing unit inventory which has been trending up since 2008,”
“The current outstanding stock of unsold new homes is higher than average.”
However, Warren is not calling for a crash in the condo market. The severity of any potential correction depends on future building, which would impact supply, she says. … we expect these excess units can be absorbed without a major price adjustment,” said Warren.
Let me get this Warren, there's a lot of condos in Toronto, way more than usual. In fact, according the Toronto Star there's 286 projects in the Toronto market, the highest of any city on the continent (take that Vancouver!)
But no troubles! According to Warren, empty condos will be bought without having to cut prices, or even sustain a loss. Adrienne Warren believes that if you build it, they will come.
Contrast to Capital Economics analyst Dave Madani who is calling for a correction later in 2011.
“A downturn in the housing market later this year will lead to further slowdown in consumption growth and a more severe contraction in residential investment,” says Dave, “a correction in the overheating housing market could derail the domestic recovery.”
Scotiabank economists are morons. A different Warren, a Warren Jestin, says “we may see some price corrections, but it won't be a bubble.”
The reality of the situation is that there will be a price correction in the Toronto condo market (and other real estate markets across Canada) that will, as Dave explained, cause a slowdown in the consumer sector and a contraction in real estate investment. There are a lot of people to blame for this massive economic fuck up, so let's go right to the source:
The Bank of Canada.
The artificial tinkering with interest rates sends artificial tinkering messages across the economy. A period of low interest rates has encouraged massive consumption and investment in what people like the most: owning a house. Or a nice condo in Toronto. Or a shit house you can dress up and sell later. Whatever your preference, low interest rates have made this a lot easier.
But one look at our savings rate should indicate that this has been an artificial expansion of credit. Eventually it will dry up and we'll experience a bust.
Until then though - Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank, would like to keep interest rates low because he thinks it might help. What's the definition of doing something over and over again and expecting a different result?
The reality of the situation is that the federal government encouraged this housing bubble by offering tax incentives and guaranteeing things they shouldn't have, but it was the central bank that got the thing off the ground. Interest rates actually mean something in the economy, and artificially lowering it below the market level is a stupid way to get rich. All artificial booms end in a bust.
All over the head of Mark Carney, however. This man is either lying through his teeth or he really believes that Canada is on the road to recovery but threatened by foreign events. These are the reasons Carney is hesitant to raise interest rates: he fears high commodity prices without linking them to QE2. He's worried about European troubles although Canada has similar structural problems. And he's worried about the high value of the Canadian dollar as if it's a bad thing!
Clearly this man is dangerously unqualified to be running the nation's finances.
Of course blame for the recession will be on those foreign issues, and certainly anything that originates from the United States. Naturally, the free market will also be blamed and more government regulation will result. Hopefully I'm wrong about this.
The sooner we get this recession going, the sooner it will end. Perhaps during the process Mark Carney's past history with Goldman Sachs will draw some media fire. Maybe Mark Carney will become known as the Bernank of Canada: an incompetent bureaucrat with no real understanding of economics.