Bank of Canada holds benchmark interest rate steady, updates 2022 economic outlook

General Bob Rees 26 Jan

Thank you to our partners at First National for the below summary!


Jan 26, 2022

First National Financial LP


This morning in its first scheduled policy decision of 2022, the Bank of Canada left its target overnight benchmark rate unchanged at what it describes as its “lower bound” of 0.25%. As a result, the Bank Rate stays at 0.5% and the knock-on effect is that borrowing costs for Canadians will remain low for the time being.

The Bank also updated its observations on the state of the economy, both in Canada and globally, leaving a strong impression that rates will rise this year.

More specifically, the Bank said that its Governing Council has decided to end its extraordinary commitment to hold its policy rate at the effective lower bound and that looking ahead, it expects “… interest rates will need to increase, with the timing and pace of those increases guided by the Bank’s commitment to achieving” its 2% inflation target.

These are the other highlights of today’s BoC announcement.

Canadian economy

  • The economy entered 2022 with considerable momentum, and a broad set of measures are now indicating that economic slack is absorbed
  • With strong employment growth, the labour market has tightened significantly with elevated job vacancies, strong hiring intentions, and a pick up in wage gains
  • Elevated housing market activity continues to put upward pressure on house prices
  • Omicron is “weighing on activity in the first quarter” and while its economic impact will depend on how quickly this wave passes, the impact is expected to be less severe than previous waves
  • Economic growth is then expected to bounce back and remain robust over the Bank’s “projection horizon,” led by consumer spending on services, and supported by strength in exports and business investment
  • After GDP growth of 4.5% in 2021, the Bank expects Canada’s economy to grow by 4% in 2022 and about 3.5% in 2023

Canadian inflation

  • CPI inflation remains “well above” the Bank’s target range and core measures of inflation have edged up since October
  • Persistent supply constraints are feeding through to a broader range of goods prices and, combined with higher food and energy prices, are expected to keep CPI inflation close to 5% in the first half of 2022
  • As supply shortages diminish, inflation is expected to decline “reasonably quickly” to about 3% by the end of 2022 and then “gradually ease” towards the Bank’s target over the projection period
  • Near-term inflation expectations have moved up, but longer-run expectations remain anchored on the 2% target
  • The Bank will use its monetary policy tools to ensure that higher near-term inflation expectations do not become embedded in ongoing inflation

Global economy

  • The recovery is strong but uneven with the US economy “growing robustly” while growth in some other regions appears more moderate, especially in China due to current weakness in its property sector
  • Strong global demand for goods combined with supply bottlenecks that hinder production and transportation are pushing up inflation in most regions
  • Oil prices have rebounded to well above pre-pandemic levels following a decline at the onset of the Omicron variant of COVID-19
  • Financial conditions remain broadly accommodative but have tightened with growing expectations that monetary policy will normalize sooner than was anticipated, and with rising geopolitical tensions
  • Overall, the Bank projects global GDP growth to moderate from 6.75% in 2021 to about 3.5% in 2022 and 2023

January Monetary Policy Report

The key messages found in the BoC’s Monetary Policy Report published today were consistent with the highlights noted above:

  • A wide range of measures and indicators suggest that economic slack is now absorbed and estimates of the output gap are consistent with this evidence
  • Public health measures and widespread worker absences related to the Omicron variant are slowing economic activity in the first quarter of 2022, but the economic impact is expected to be less severe than previous waves
  • The impacts from global and domestic supply disruptions are currently exerting upward pressure on prices
  • Inflationary pressures from strong demand, supply shortages and high energy prices should subside during the year
  • Over the medium term, increased productivity is expected to boost supply growth, and demand growth is projected to moderate with inflation expected to decline gradually through 2023 and 2024 to close to 2%
  • The Bank views the risks around this inflation outlook as roughly balanced, however, with inflation above the top of the Bank’s inflation-control range and expected to stay there for some time, the upside risks are of greater concern

Looking ahead

The Bank intends to keep its holdings of Government of Canada bonds on its balance sheet roughly constant “at least until” it begins to raise its policy interest rate.  At that time, the BoC’s Governing Council will consider exiting what it calls its “reinvestment phase” and reducing the size of its balance sheet. It will do so by allowing the roll-off of maturing Government of Canada bonds.

While the Bank acknowledges that COVID-19 continues to affect economic activity unevenly across sectors, the Governing Council believes that overall slack in the economy is now absorbed, “thus satisfying the condition outlined in the Bank’s forward guidance on its policy interest rate” and setting the stage for increases in 2022.

Residential Market Commentary – Canadians prefer interest increases over inflation

General Bob Rees 19 Jan

Thank you for the below update First National, one of our preferred / exclusive lenders 


Jan 17, 2022

First National Financial LP


Inflation is running at generational highs in this country, and that is a bigger concern for Canadians than higher interest rates.

Canada’s headline inflation rate – the Consumer Price Index – is currently running at just below 5%.  That is the highest level in nearly 20 years.  The most recent numbers out of the U.S. put the rate there at 7% which is a 40 year high.

A Nanos poll taken for Bloomberg News late last month suggests a majority of Canadians would prefer to see the Bank of Canada increase interest rates, in an effort to rein-in rising costs, rather than let inflation get any higher.

The poll found 87% of those surveyed are more concerned about the pace of rising prices that they are about higher interest rates.  Ten percent are more concerned about higher borrowing costs.

Given the level of Canadian household debt the results might seem counter-intuitive.  Fifty-one percent of respondents say they will likely face, at least, some negative impact from higher interest rates.

This might be explained by a generational divide that showed up in the poll.

“Younger Canadians are much more likely to report a negative sensitivity to higher interest rates compared to middle-aged and older individuals,” says Nik Nanos, founder of the Nanos Research Group.

Analysts point out, though, that interest rate increases may cool spending and reduce the demand for debt, such as mortgages, but they will not resolve key inflation drivers like constrained production and supply chain slowdowns.


Housing Affordability Erodes Further With Record-Low Supply

General Bob Rees 17 Jan

Thank you Dr Cooper!


Housing Affordability Erodes Further With Record-Low Supply
Housing affordability remains a huge political issue and with the Department of Finance working on the upcoming budget, no doubt measures to reduce home prices will be front and center. What we desperately need is dramatic increases in new housing construction, which has been woefully constrained by local zoning and city planning issues. These are not under the auspices of the federal government. So instead, bandaid measures that do not directly address the fundamental issue of a housing shortage will likely be forthcoming. More on that below.
Today the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) released statistics for December 2021 showing national existing-home sales rose edged higher on a month-over-month basis, constrained by limited supply. Excess demand pushed home prices up on the month by 2.5%, taking the 2021 home price index up a record 26.6% year-over-year.

Small gains in home sales in November and December followed a 9% surge in activity in October, placing sales in the final quarter of 2021between the highs and lows seen earlier and the year (see chart below).With the exception of month-over-month sales gains in Calgary and the Fraser Valley, most other large markets mirrored the national trend of little change between November and December. The actual (not seasonally adjusted) number of transactions in December 2021 came in 9.9% below the record for that month set in 2020. That said, as has been the case throughout the second half of 2021, it was still the second-highest level on record for the month.

On an annual basis, a total of 666,995 residential properties traded hands via Canadian MLS® Systems in 2021. This was a new record by a large margin, surpassing the previous annual record set in 2020 by a little more than 20%, and standing 30% above the average of the last 10 years.

New ListingsThe number of newly listed homes fell 3.2% in December compared to November, with declines in Greater Vancouver, Montreal and a number of other areas in Quebec more than offsetting an increase in new supply in the GTA.

With sales little changed and new listings down in December, the sales-to-new listings ratio tightened to 79.7% compared to 77% in November. The long-term average for the national sales-to-new listings ratio is 54.9%.

Almost two-thirds of local markets were sellers’ markets based on the sales-to-new listings ratio being more than one standard deviation above its long-term mean in December 2021. The remaining one-third of local markets were in balanced market territory.

There were just 1.6 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of December 2021 — the lowest level ever recorded. The long-term average for this measure is a little more than 5 months.

Home PricesIn line with the tightest market conditions ever recorded, the Aggregate Composite MLS® Home Price Index (MLS® HPI) was up another 2.5% on a month-over-month basis in December 2021.

The non-seasonally adjusted Aggregate Composite MLS® HPI was up by a record 26.6% on a year-over-year basis in December.

Looking across the country, year-over-year price growth has crept back above 25% in B.C., though it remains lower in Vancouver, close to on par with the provincial number in Victoria, and higher in other parts of the province.

Year-over-year price gains are still in the mid-to-high single digits in Alberta and Saskatchewan, while gains are running at about 12% in Manitoba.

Ontario saw year-over-year price growth remain above 30% in December, with the GTA continuing to surge ahead after trailing other parts of the province for most of the pandemic.

Greater Montreal’s year-over-year price growth remains at a little over 20%, while Quebec City was only about half that.

Price growth is running above 30% in New Brunswick (higher in Greater Moncton, lower in Fredericton and Saint John), while Newfoundland and Labrador is now at 11% year-over-year.

Bottom Line–We Are In The Political Season

The Bank of Canada conducted a recent study of residential mortgage originations at federally regulated financial institutions since 2014 to determine the share and financial characteristics of mortgage-financed homebuying by type of purchaser: first-time homebuyers; repeat buyers (the so-called move-up market); and investors.

First-time homebuyers are the largest group, generally accounting for roughly half of all mortgage purchases since 2014. Repeat homebuyers (those that discharged their previous mortgage when they took a new mortgage) comprised 31% of all mortgaged buyers over the same period. Investors having multiple mortgages represent 19% of purchases since 2014. Investors without mortgages are not included in the data, so foreign investors who might have borrowed money outside of Canada are not included.

The chart below shows that since 2015, the share of first-time homebuyers has fallen from over 52% to less than 48% of all mortgaged homebuying, while the share of repeat buyers is up slightly, and the share of investors has risen from under 18% to over 20%. Most of the rise in investor activity was in 2017 and 2021.

The Bank of Canada concludes that the increased presence of investors in the housing market has augmented demand and “may reflect a belief that house prices will continue to rise in value…By exacerbating so-called boom-bust cycles in housing markets, investors could thus be a source of instability for the financial system and the economy more broadly. At the same time, investors are an important source of housing rental supply. We need to do further research to examine the delicate balance between adding to rental supply while removing new builds and resale supply in a housing market that already has supply constraints.”

The Ministry of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, in partnership with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), according to a Financial Post article dated January 12, is concerned about “speculative investing” in housing, “prompting Canadians to overbid on properties, borrow beyond what they can afford, and push home prices even higher.”

“By developing policies to curb excessive profits in investment properties, protecting small independent landlords and Canadian families, and reviewing the down payment requirements for investment properties, we are targeting the issues the market is facing from multiple angles.” Currently, investors must make a 20% down payment.

It looks like the Feds may well raise the minimum downpayments on investment property loans. They are also considering a limitation on the sources of funding for these properties.

What the Canadian housing market needs is substantial new affordable housing construction. Impeding this is the long and tortuous planning process and local government zoning rules. Actions taken to reduce housing demand in the face of nearly a million new immigrants coming to Canada in 2021 and 2022, if severe enough, could throw the whole economy into recession, particularly given that the Bank of Canada is on the precipice of hiking interest rates. The wealth and liquidity of millions of Canadian households are tied up in housing, so the government must take care not to push demand restrictions too far, especially since condo investments augment the very tight rental markets.

Dr. Sherry Cooper, Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres