General Bob Rees 20 Jun

Some great info from our partners at RECA!

 

Calgary, Alberta — The Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) is advising consumers to evaluate the risks of condition-free offers to purchase property.

 

Currently, Alberta’s real estate market is extremely competitive, with limited supply of homes for sale, meaning sellers often receive multiple offers. Home buyers may feel they need to tailor their offer to appeal to the home seller and may consider making a condition-free offer to stand out from other buyers. RECA is advising consumers that this home buying strategy has risks.

 

Most offers to purchase a home are conditional, meaning they have criteria that must be met before the property purchase can be completed. These criteria must be written into the offer to purchase, with an exact explanation of how the condition will be met, and the timeframe for when the condition must be met. If the buyer does not waive conditions by the agreed upon deadline, an offer to purchase becomes void.

 

A condition can be anything the buyer and seller agree to, as long as it is written in the signed offer to purchase. Typical conditions include conditions for a buyer to:
  • secure financing
  • complete a home inspection to their satisfaction
  • review condominium documents to their satisfaction
  • finalize the sale of their current property
Conditional offers allow buyers and their licensees to perform due diligence research on a property, such as getting a home inspection and properly reviewing all relevant information such as the title or condominium documents. Conditional offers also allow buyers to secure financing for the property, typically through a mortgage.

 

Consumers should be aware that a mortgage pre-approval is not a guarantee they will obtain financing. Mortgage pre-approval is only tentative approval based on the buyer’s basic financial information. It is also important to note that at the pre-approval stage, the property is not yet known. Property type, location, or value can impact the financing available.

 

For any reason, including not securing financing, if a home buyer fails to complete the purchase as stated, they may forfeit their deposit and could face legal action by the seller.

 

Consumers are urged to discuss any plans to make a condition-free offer with their real estate licensee. Home buyers should also be sure to speak to their mortgage broker about the financing implications of submitting a condition-free offer. RECA licensees must advise their clients about the risks and possible implications of condition-free offers.

 

For more information on condition-free purchase offers, please visit reca.ca
The Real Estate Council of Alberta is the independent governing authority that sets, regulates, and enforces standards for residential real estate, commercial real estate, property management, condominium management, and mortgage brokerage licensees under Alberta’s Real Estate Act.

RECA’s mandate is to protect consumers, to provide services to facilitate the business of licensees, and to protect against, investigate, detect, and suppress fraud as it relates to the business of licensees.

 

 

 

 

 

Residential Mortgage Commentary – Canadians are getting richer

General Bob Rees 20 Jun

First National Financial LP

 

June 17, 2024

It appears the advertising slogan is true.  Canadians may well be richer than they think.

A recent survey by Statistics Canada shows that household net worth in this country rose to a record high of nearly $17 trillion in the first quarter of this year. That is a 3.3%, or $548 billion, increase over the fourth quarter of 2023 and is the second quarterly increase in a row.

The growth was fed by a 3.6% quarter-over-quarter rise in financial assets and a 2.6% increase in the value of residential real estate.

StatsCan says 90% of all net worth is held by homeowners.

Along with the gains in assets, Canadian households have also diminished their liabilities.

High interest rates have dramatically reduced borrowing, which grew by just 0.3% in Q1.  That combined with income growth that outpaced debt growth saw the household debt-to-income ratio drop to 176%.  That is still high, but it is the fourth consecutive decline in the debt-to-income ratio and it is a notable reduction from the 178% posted in Q4 of 2023.

Canadians are also saving more.  The household saving rate rose to 6.9% in Q1, its highest level in two years.  Canadians tended to put their savings into mutual funds and ETFs.  They parked $23.8 billion in these investments in Q1, more than in all of 2023.

Federal Budget a C-

General Bob Rees 17 Apr

Dr Cooper  gives a C- …… very generous as I would give a solid F

 

“I’d give this budget a C-. That’s generous. It squanders what could have been a reduction in the budget deficit for a host of inconsequential spending measures. Worse still, it increases capital gains taxes, which might play well for millennials and Gen Xers, who need help understanding the unintended consequences. Higher taxes will reduce investment in residential real estate, technology, plant and equipment and other productivity-enhancing measures. It reduces risk tolerance at a time when we already have an enormous productivity deficit relative to other industrialized economies.”  Dr Sherry Cooper

 

Federal Budget Targets Rich Canadians For New Spending
The budget focuses on helping Millennial and Gen Z voters experiencing rising housing costs and other inflationary pressures. The government has set fiscal anchors, such as keeping the deficit below 1% of GDP starting in 2027.

The Canadian federal government released its 2023 budget over a year ago, promising to conduct a strategic spending review to find $15.4 billion in savings. The savings were supposed to achieve fiscal credibility by offsetting the $43 billion in new government spending. However, nearly a year after its announcement, the spending review found only $9 billion in savings, while the government piles on new spending measures in this year’s budget.

The fiscal path is mostly the same as in the 2023 Fall Economic Statement, but only after revenue gains from a resilient economy and further tax increases triggered even bigger spending initiatives.

Government spending is expected to be $480 billion in the next fiscal year, including $54 billion in payments on the country’s debt.

Finance Minister Freeland also announced a soak-the-rich tax scheme, levelling higher taxes on capital gains for people who make more than $250,000 selling stock or property other than a person’s primary residence.

Currently, 50% of capital gains profits are taxed, compared to 100% of a person’s employment income. That will remain the case for the first $250,000 of capital gains income, but it will rise to 66.6% on income above that level. So, the proposal is to reduce the tax-exempt amount to one-third for capital gains exceeding $250,000.

The lower exemption would also apply to businesses for all capital gains, not just those over $250,000. The additional capital gains taxes are expected to rake $19.4 billion into the government’s coffers over the next five years, which is no small measure. This will reduce business capital spending, already at rock-bottom lows, rendering the Canadian productivity problem even more egregious. Higher capital gains taxes also disincentivize investment in residential rental real estate. 

The FY24/25 budget deficit is estimated at $39.8 billion (1.3% of GDP), with the numbers massaged just enough to meet the various ‘fiscal guideposts’. Any path to a balanced budget continues to be absent.

Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem has said provincial government spending is already making it harder to lower inflation. Running federal deficits — on top of large provincial deficits in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia — is irresponsible. The government had previously set fiscal anchors, like keeping the deficit below 1% of GDP starting in 2027.

Philip Cross of the National Post writes, ”deficit spending when inflation is above target violates the 1991 accord between the Government of Canada and the Bank of Canada, which “jointly set forth targets for reducing inflation” and requires both parties to collaborate to achieve that goal.”

Cumulatively, the total deficit between FY23/24 and FY28/29 is now running $10 billion larger than in the Fall Economic Statement.

The Housing Plan

The housing measures were pre-announced, and the market impact should be minimal. However, the higher capital gains inclusion rate will impact those planning to sell valuable properties with much lower cost bases. It will change the economics of real estate investment in rental properties, an area that needs to be more generously funded. 

Some Other Housing Measures:

Allowing 30-year mortgage amortizations for first-time home buyers purchasing new builds. This measure zeroes in on a small subset of the market. In general, though, it stokes excess demand and ultimately does little to improve affordability once prices adjust. Also, limits on the size of insured mortgages mitigate its impact in our most expensive cities. Pre-construction sales usually require a 20% downpayment, which limits the use of insured mortgages, which account for only 15% of mortgage originations.

Increase the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan limit from $35,000 to $60,000 and extend the three-year payback period.
Create a renters’ bills of rights and tenant protection fund. Some details here are curious, such as a national standard lease agreement (which is provincial jurisdiction). At any rate, the deck is stacked against landlords from bringing more quality rental supply to market—think taxes.

Accelerated capital cost allowances on the construction of new purpose-built rentals and removal of the HST on the construction of student rentals.

Increase the annual Canada Mortgage bond limit to $60 billion from $40 billion.

Top up the Housing Accelerator Fund to incentivize the removal of zoning barriers and tie transit funding to densification along transit corridors.

Bottom Line

This is a pre-election ‘tax and spend’ budget, which will do little to address the problems it claims to solve. It exacerbates other concerns, including insufficient business capital spending, low productivity growth, and insufficient investment in rental real estate.

Slowing the growth in nonpermanent immigration will, in time, do more to address the housing shortage than any of these measures.

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres
drsherrycooper@dominionlending.ca

 

 

 

Residential Mortgage Commentary – Realtors hopeful about spring market

General Bob Rees 25 Mar

March 25, 2024 – Thank you to our Preferred Partners at First National for the below insight!

 

Canada’s realtors are hinting that home prices may have found their bottom.

The February numbers from the Canadian Real Estate Association show price, as measured by the Aggregate Composite MLS Home Price Index (seasonally adjusted), was flat compared to January.  That ends a five month slide in prices, which dropped 1.3% between December and January.

The national average price of a home in February came in at a little less than $686,000, up 3.5% year-over-year.

Sales were up almost 20% from last February, but it has to be remembered that February 2023 was an unusually slow month.  Compared to January sales dipped 3.1% in February.

CREA is hopeful the stabilization of prices signals an impending reversal in demand.

“The fact that prices were unchanged from January to February was noteworthy given the … drop from December to January.  [S]hifts this abrupt are exceedingly rare.  There have only been three other times in the last 20 years that have shared a sudden improvement or increase in the month-over-month percentage change … of this size; all at various points in the last four years when demand was coming off the sidelines,” CREA said in its release.

New listings rose 1.6% in February compared to January, bringing the sales-to-new listings ratio to 55.6%. The long-term average is 55%.

 

 

NOTE: First National is one of Canada’s largest non-bank mortgage lenders, offering both commercial mortgages and residential mortgage solutions.

Canadian Inflation Falls to 2.9% in January, Boosting Rate Cut Prospects

General Bob Rees 20 Feb

Canadian Inflation Falls to 2.9% in January, Boosting Rate Cut Prospects
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 2.9% year-over-year in January, down sharply from December’s 3.4% reading. The most significant contributor to the deceleration was a 4% decline in y/y gasoline prices, compared to a 1.4% rise the month before (see chart below). Excluding gasoline, headline CPI slowed to 3.2% y/y, down from 3.5% in December.

Headline inflation of 2.9% marks the first time since June that inflation has moved into the Bank of Canada 1%-to-3% target band and only the second time to breach that band since March 2021.

Grocery price inflation also decelerated broadly in January to 3.4% y/y, down from 4.7% in December. Lower prices for airfares and travel tours also contributed to the headline deceleration. Prices for clothing and footwear were 1.3% lower than levels from a year ago, potentially reflecting the discounting of winter clothing after a milder-than-usual winter in much of the country.

The shelter component of inflation remains by far the largest contributor to annual inflation. The effect of past central bank rate hikes feeds into the CPI with a lag. The y/y growth in mortgage interest costs edged lower in January but still posted a 27.4% rise and accounted for about a quarter of the total annual inflation. Inflation, excluding mortgage costs, is now at 2.0%. Home rent prices continue to rise, but another component under shelter – homeowners’ replacement costs inched lower on slower house price growth.

On a monthly basis, the CPI was unchanged in January, following a 0.3% decline in December. On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, the CPI fell 0.1% in January, the first decline since May 2020.

The Bank of Canada’s preferred core inflation measures, the trim and median core rates, exclude the more volatile price movements to assess the level of underlying inflation. The CPI trim slowed three ticks to 3.4%, and the median declined two ticks to 3.3% from year-ago levels, as shown in the chart below.

Notably, the share of the CPI basket of goods and services growing at more than 5% has declined from the peak of 68% in May 2022 to 28% in January 2024.

Bottom Line

The next meeting of the Bank of Canada Governing Council is on March 6. While January’s inflation report was better than expected and shows that the breadth of inflation is narrowing, it is still well above the level consistent with the 2% inflation target.

Shelter inflation will remain sticky as higher mortgage rates over the course of last year filter into the index and the acute housing shortage boosts rents.

The Bank of Canada will remain cautious in the face of still-high wage gains and core inflation measures above 3%. I hold to my view that the Bank will begin cutting rates in June.

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres

The Bank of Canada Holds Rates Steady And Expects Rate Cuts Later This Year

General Bob Rees 30 Jan

The Bank of Canada Holds Rates Steady And Expects Rate Cuts Later This Year
Today, The Bank of Canada held the overnight rate at 5% for the fourth consecutive meeting but provided an outlook suggesting that monetary easing will begin by mid-year. The Bank forecasts a soft landing for the Canadian economy, with inflation falling to 2.5% by the end of this year. While some economists predict a recession, the Bank suggests that “growth will likely remain close to zero through the first quarter of 2024” and “strengthen gradually around the middle of 2024.” This would be a soft landing.

While inflation ended 2023 at 3.4%, owing mainly to high and sticky shelter costs, “the Bank expects inflation to remain close to 3% during the first half of this year before gradually easing, returning to the 2% target in 2025. While the slowdown in demand is reducing price pressures in a broader number of CPI components and corporate pricing behaviour continues to normalize, core measures of inflation are not showing sustained declines.”

The press release says that the “Governing Council wants to see further and sustained easing in core inflation and continues to focus on the balance between demand and supply in the economy, inflation expectations, wage growth, and corporate pricing behaviour.”  The Bank now believes the economy is in excess supply, inflation expectations and corporate pricing behaviour are moving in the right direction, and wage demands, at 5.4% year-over-year in the last reading–are still too high. Wages are a lagging indicator and with job vacancies returning to pre-pandemic levels, wage pressures are likely to dissipate as the year progresses.

Today, the tone was much more optimistic, suggesting that policymakers are increasingly confident interest rates are restrictive enough to bring inflation back to the 2% target. Still, Bank officials want to see more progress on core inflation before it begins to ease. It said, “The Bank’s preferred measures of core inflation have been around 3½-4%, with the October data coming in towards the lower end of this range.”

The central bank focuses on “the balance between demand and supply in the economy, inflation expectations, wage growth, and corporate pricing behaviour” and remains resolute in restoring price stability.

Bottom Line

This was a more upbeat Bank of Canada statement. There is a good chance that monetary tightening has done its job, and inflation will trend downward in the coming months. As we have seen, the road to 2% inflation is bumpy, but we are heading there probably sooner than the Bank expects. As predicted, they are staying the course for now, but multiple rate cuts are likely this year. The scheduled dates for announcing the policy rate are March 6, April 10, June 5 and July 24. The Bank of Canada will begin cutting the overnight rate somewhere in there.

For now, my bet is on the June meeting, but if I’m wrong, it will likely be sooner rather than later. Once they begin to take rates down, they will do so gradually, 25 basis points at a time, and over a series of meetings. We could well see rates fall by 100-to-150 bps this year. Risks to the outlook remain, as always.

I do not expect the overnight policy rate to fall as low as the pre-Covid level of 1.75% this cycle. Inflation averaged less than 2% in the five years before COVID-19, depressed by increasing globalization and technological advances. Those forces are now reversed.

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres

Jobless Rates Hits 22-Month High–Led by Losses in Finance and Real Estate Employment

General Bob Rees 4 Dec

Jobless Rates Hits 22-Month High–Led by Losses in Finance and Real Estate Employment
Today’s StatsCanada Labour Force Survey for November was a mixed bag. Total employment gains were stronger than expected. However, the rising unemployment rate and drop in hours worked were signs of mounting economic weakness, especially in the financial and real estate sectors.

Employment in Canada rose by 24.9K in November 2023, following a 17.5K rise in October and above forecasts of 15K. Employment went up in manufacturing (+28K) and construction (+16K). On the other hand, there were declines in wholesale and retail trade (-27K) and finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing (-18K). November marks the fourth consecutive month of job gains. Still, the Bank of Canada noted in its October meeting that “recent job gains have been below labour force growth and job vacancies have continued to ease,” suggesting a slowdown in labour demand. The monthly employment gain averaged 39K so far this year, while monthly population growth has averaged 80.8K.

Rapid population growth–driven by Canada’s open-door policy–has boosted economic activity. Despite dramatic tightening by the Bank of Canada, labour markets remain resilient. While yesterday’s GDP release showed a 1.1% decline in growth in the third quarter, housing, government spending and private consumption added to growth. More recent data for Q4 suggest a pick-up in overall activity. Today’s employment data shows stronger-than-expected jobs gains in November.

In other data released last week, Canadian retail sales also surprised on the high side. Consumers splurged in September and October, a surprise resurgence in spending even as high interest rates restrict household budgets. Retail receipts rose 0.8% in October. That’s the biggest jump since April and followed an unexpected 0.6% increase in September, which far exceeded the median estimate of a flat reading in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

The unemployment rate increased for the second consecutive month, continuing its upward trend since April. The unemployment rate rose 0.1 percentage points to 5.8% in November, bringing the cumulative increase since April 2023 to 0.8 percentage points. Compared with a year earlier, unemployed people in November were more likely to have been laid off from their previous job, reflecting more difficult economic and labour market conditions in 2023 compared with 2022.
In construction, employment increased by 16K (+1.0%) in November, building on an increase of 23K (+1.5%) in October. While employment declined in construction through the spring and summer of 2023, gains in October and November brought employment levels to within 15,000 of the peak reached in January 2023. According to the most recent data on building construction, investment in building construction, mainly residential building construction, trended down for most of 2023 before partially rebounding in August and September.

Employment declined by 27K (-0.9%) in wholesale and retail trade in November, adding to a drop of 22K (-0.7%) in October. As of November, employment in the industry was at its lowest since December 2022.

Employment in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing fell by 18K (-1.3%) in November. Since July, employment in this industry has declined by 63K (-4.4%), the steepest decrease of any sector over the period.

Wage growth was steady at +4.8% y/y, still well above what the Bank of Canada targets, given the productivity decline.

On the soft side, hours worked fell 0.7% despite a significant rise in full-time employment. That’s the largest monthly drop since early 2022 and doesn’t bode well for GDP growth in the month after the surprise strength in October’s flash estimate released yesterday.

Bottom Line

Last week, Governor Tiff Macklem said interest rates may be restrictive enough to restore price stability. He added that more downward pressure on inflation is in the pipeline, with the economy expected to remain weak for the next few quarters.

All the relevant data are in now for the Bank of Canada decision next Wednesday, December 6th. The Bank should maintain its pause and suggest that monetary easing may commence in the coming months depending on a continued decline in inflation. Right now, markets are forecasting the first rate cut in April 2024. That would certainly make for a robust spring housing market. I expect a 200 basis point drop in the overnight rate by the end of 2024 to 3.0%. This would imply a commensurate decline in VRMs. Fixed mortgage rates have already begun to drop owing to the sharp decline in mid-term bond yields. An acceleration in the drop in fixed mortgage rates is likely next year, as the spread between FMRs and market yields is still historically high.

 

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres

Weak October Jobs Report Likely Takes Further BoC Rate Hikes Off The Table

General Bob Rees 3 Nov

Weak October Jobs Report Likely Takes Further BoC Rate Hikes Off The Table
Today’s StatsCanada Labour Force Survey for October was weak across the board. Total job gains were meagre, full-time jobs fell, hours worked were flat, wage inflation eased (a bit), and the unemployment rate rose.

Employment changed little in October, up only 17,500 (0.1%), after rising 64,000 in September and 40,000 in August. The employment rate—the proportion of the working-age population with a job—fell 0.1 percentage points to 61.9% in October, as the population aged 15 and older increased by 85,000 (+0.3%).

Most notably, the unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage points to 5.7%–its fourth monthly increase in six months and its highest level in 21 months, adding evidence to a weakening economy. The latest monthly GDP figures released earlier this week point to a flat to negative growth rate for the third quarter this year. Final data will be released later this month, but today’s numbers suggest that the overnight policy rate at 5.0% has peaked. The pace of employment gains is running below labour force growth from record population increases. It indicates that labour demand is cooling while supply is catching up quickly. The Bank of Canada expects the economy to move into modest excess supply in the fourth quarter, helping to reduce consumer price inflation.

As unemployment has increased and job vacancies have decreased in recent months, the labour force participation rate—the proportion of the population aged 15 and older that was either employed or looking for work—has remained relatively high. The participation rate in October (65.6%) was unchanged from the previous month and up 0.2 percentage points on a year-over-year basis.

The most significant job gains were in construction, rising by 23,000, more than offsetting a decline of 18,000 in September. The most economically sensitive sectors posted job losses. These included manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, finance, insurance, real estate, and rental and leasing, as well as accommodation and food services.

Wage inflation continues to be troubling for the central bank. On a year-over-year basis, average hourly wages rose 4.8% in October, following an increase of 5.0% in September.

Bottom Line

The Bank of Canada meets once again on December 6th. Before then, we will see another CPI inflation report on November 21, Q3 GDP on November 30 and the November Labour Force Survey on December 1. Given the Bank’s general reluctance to hike rates just before the holiday season, the Bank of Canada will remain on the sidelines.

Judging by today’s weaker-than-expected employment report in the US as well, the Fed will also hold their pause for the remainder of this year.

Rate relief, however, is still many months away. The central banks will want to see inflation at 2% with the belief that it will remain there before they begin to cut interest rates. That will happen, but probably not before next summer. According to Bloomberg News, “Traders in overnight swaps brought forward their expectations for when the Bank of Canada will start loosening policy, and are now betting policymakers will cut interest rates by 25 basis points in July, from September a day ago.”

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres

Bank of Canada holds its interest rate steady, publishes updated economic forecasts

General Bob Rees 25 Oct

Thank you to one of our preferred partners, First National, for their summary!

Bank of Canada holds its interest rate steady, publishes updated economic forecasts

Today, the Bank of Canada announced that it would maintain its overnight policy interest rate at 5.00%, stating that there is “growing evidence” that past interest rate increases are dampening economic activity and relieving price pressures.

This decision provides some comfort to borrowers who have seen their mortgage costs rise steadily since March of 2022. As for real relief – in the form of rate cuts – the Bank demurred, noting that its preferred measures of core inflation show “little downward momentum.” Consequently, the Bank said it is holding this policy rate and continuing its current policy of quantitative tightening.

We capture the Bank’s observations and its latest economic forecasts in the summary below.

Inflation facts and outlook

  • In Canada, inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”) has been volatile in recent months: 2.8% in June, 4.0% in August, and 3.8% in September
  • Higher interest rates are moderating inflation in many goods that people buy on credit, and this is spreading to services
  • Food inflation is easing from very high rates; however, in addition to elevated mortgage interest costs, inflation in rent and other housing costs remains high
  • Near-term inflation expectations and corporate pricing behaviour are normalizing only gradually, and wages are still growing around 4% to 5%
  • The Bank’s preferred measures of core inflation show little downward momentum

Canadian housing and economic performance

  • There is growing evidence that past interest rate increases are dampening economic activity and relieving price pressures
  • Consumption has been subdued, with softer demand for housing, durable goods and many services
  • Weaker demand and higher borrowing costs are weighing on business investment
  • A surge in Canada’s population is easing labour market pressures in some sectors while adding to housing demand and consumption
  • In the labour market, recent job gains have been below labour force growth and job vacancies have continued to ease; however, the labour market remains “on the tight side” and wage pressures persist
  • Overall, a range of indicators suggest that supply and demand in the economy are now “approaching balance”

Global economic performance and outlook

  • The global economy is slowing and growth is forecast to moderate further as past increases in policy interest rates and the recent surge in global bond yields weigh on demand
  • The Bank projects global GDP growth of 2.9% this year, 2.3% in 2024 and 2.6% in 2025. While this outlook is little changed from the Bank’s July Monetary Policy Report, the composition has shifted, with the US economy proving stronger and economic activity in China weaker than expected
  • Growth in the Euro area has “slowed further”
  • Inflation has been easing in most economies, as supply bottlenecks resolve and weaker demand relieves price pressures but underlying inflation is persisting, meaning central banks must “continue to be vigilant”
  • Oil prices are higher than the BoC assumed in July, and the war in Israel and Gaza is a new source of geopolitical uncertainty

Summary and Outlook

The BoC noted that after averaging 1% over the past year, economic growth is expected to remain “weak” for the next year before increasing in late 2024 and through 2025. Near-term weakness in growth reflects both the broadening impact of past increases in interest rates and slower foreign demand. The subsequent economic “pickup” will be driven by household spending as well as stronger exports and business investment in response to improving foreign demand. Spending by governments contributes materially to growth over the forecast horizon. Overall, the Bank expects the Canadian economy to grow by 1.2% this year, 0.9% in 2024 and 2.5% in 2025.

In the Bank’s October projection, CPI inflation is expected to average about 3.5% through the middle of next year before gradually easing to 2% in 2025. Inflation is expected to return to the Bank’s target about the same time as policymakers forecast in their July 2023 projection, “but the near-term path is higher because of energy prices and ongoing persistence in core inflation.”

As for what to expect going forward, the Bank had this to say about interest rates: “With clearer signs that monetary policy is moderating spending and relieving price pressures, Governing Council decided to hold the policy rate at 5% and to continue to normalize the Bank’s balance sheet. However, Governing Council is concerned that progress towards price stability is slow and inflationary risks have increased, and is prepared to raise the policy rate further if needed.”

The message is therefore clear: the Bank wants to see downward momentum in core inflation before it changes tack, and continues to be focused on the “balance between demand and supply in the economy, inflation expectations, wage growth and corporate pricing behaviour.”

Once again, the Bank ended its communique with a familiar phrase: it remains “resolute in its commitment to restoring price stability for Canadians.”

What’s next?

The Bank’s final (scheduled) interest rate announcement of 2023 takes place December 6th and we will follow immediately after with our next executive summary.

Good News On the Inflation Front Suggests Policy Rates Have Peaked

General Bob Rees 17 Oct

Good News On the Inflation Front Suggests Policy Rates Have Peaked
Today’s inflation report for September was considerably better than expected, ending the three-month rise in inflation. Not only did the headline inflation rate fall, but so did the core measures of inflation on a year-over-year basis and a three-month moving average basis. This, in combination with the weak Business Outlook Survey released yesterday, suggests that the overnight policy rate at 5% may be the peak in rates. While I do not expect the Bank to begin cutting rates until the middle of next year, the worst of the tightening cycle may well be over.

Offsetting the deceleration in the all-items CPI was a year-over-year increase in gasoline prices, which rose faster in September (+7.5%) compared with August (+0.8%) due to a base-year effect. Excluding gasoline, the CPI rose 3.7% in September, following a 4.1% increase in August. Looking ahead to the October inflation report, the base effect for headline CPI is favourable, as CPI surged in October 2022. Gasoline prices are down about 7% so far this month. Given the war in the Middle East, however, there is no guarantee that this will hold, but if it does, the October headline CPI could move into the low-3% range.

On a monthly basis, the CPI fell 0.1% in September after a 0.4% gain in August. The monthly slowdown was mainly driven by lower month-over-month prices for gasoline (-1.3%) in September. Goods inflation fell 0.3% from a month earlier, the first time since December 2022, and grew 3.6% from a year ago versus 3.7% in August. Services inflation was unchanged from August, the first time it hasn’t grown on a monthly basis since November 2021, while the rate slowed to 3.9% on a yearly basis, from 4.3% in August.

Yesterday’s Survey of Consumer Expectations showed that perceptions of current inflation remain well above actual inflation.  One reason is the very visible level of grocery and gasoline prices. As the chart below shows, food inflation–though still elevated–decelerated to 5.9% last month, and CPI excluding food and energy fell to a cycle-low 2.8%. Large monthly gains in September 2022, when grocery prices increased at the fastest pace in 41 years, fell out of the 12-month movements and put downward pressure on the indexes.
Prices for durable goods rose at a slower pace year over year in September (+0.4%) compared with August (+1.4%). The purchase of new passenger vehicles index contributed the most to the slowdown, rising 1.7% year over year in September, following a 3.1% gain in August. The deceleration in the price of new passenger vehicles was partly attributable to improved inventory levels compared with a year ago.

Additionally, furniture prices (-4.6%) and household appliances (-2.3%) continued to decline year-over-year in September, contributing to the slowdown in durable goods. Consumers paid less on a year-over-year basis for air transportation (-21.1 %) in September, coinciding with a gradual increase in airline flights over the previous 12 months.

Other measures of core inflation followed by the Bank of Canada also decelerated.

Bottom Line

According to Bloomberg News calculations, “A three-month moving average of underlying price pressures that Governor Tiff Macklem has flagged as key to policymakers’ thinking fell to an annualized pace of 3.67%, from 4.29% a month earlier.”  While this is still well above the Bank’s 2% target, the global economy is slowing, the Canadian and US economies are slowing, and with any luck at all, the Bank of Canada might see inflation move to within its target range next year. However, the central bank will be cautious, refraining from rate cuts until the middle of next year. The full impact of rate hikes has yet to be felt. The next move by the Bank of Canada could be a rate cut, but not until next year.

Dr. Sherry Cooper
Chief Economist, Dominion Lending Centres