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June 1, 2020 | ‘Something Has to Happen’

Three months into the Great Mortgage Deferral and just 90 days to go now before… the cliff. On a call with analysts last week CMHC’s head economics guys had this warning: “Something has to happen to avoid having these deferrals escalate into foreclosure.” Whoa. This is a seriously meaningful statement, coming from the federal housing […]

May 31, 2020 | After the Handouts

“I’m a fan of yours,” Barry says, guaranteeing my fatuous attention. “I’d like to know your thoughts on what might the Canadian economy do once CERB runs out.” And he nails it. That’s the question. The pandemic will end. The virus will leave town. A vaccine/therapy will be found. We’ll have a long time to […]

May 29, 2020 | What Matters

The news was enough to freak Amy out. Like she needed more of it. The economy’s shrunk faster than a dude in a lake – 8% in March (and half of that month was pre-virus). This is Great Depression stuff. Imagine what the April and May numbers will be. Ugh. Also a bank just cut […]

May 28, 2020 | How it Ends

Some years ago, when this blog was still pithy (instead of just pissy) we summed it all up this way: the rich hold assets. The rest hold debt. Well, the virus sure has underscored that piece of news. Since hitting a panicked low in the third week of March, the US stock market has careened […]

May 27, 2020 | The Covid reset

Source: The Canadian Press The virus is an agent of change. The transformation of society’s happening a lot faster since the pandemic came to town. Who knew a bug could do this? Look at the headlines… The country’s biggest newspaper – in fact a company with real estate, presses, 4,000 employees, half-a-dozen dailies and 70 […]

May 26, 2020 | Bad Dog

There was panic in the PR department over at Re/Max and Royal LePage last week. They might even had a picture of bad dog Evan Siddall on the wall, with a few bullet holes in it. (Okay, dart punctures, maybe.) Used to be that the fed agency, CMHC, was just a big squishy, real estate-friendly […]

May 25, 2020 | The Benefit

First, the good news. Every little shred helps. The blue bank is telling its customers not to worry about extra interest that will accrue as they defer their mortgage payments. “BMO will be refunding any additional interest accumulated on your deferred mortgage payments for the entire deferral period.” It says. “We will credit this refund […]

May 22, 2020 | Lessons

What lessons did the virus give us? Did we react calmly, correctly? Tom’s a contractor with a small crew in southern Ontario. Four trucks, usually eight guys. Just four now. The others asked to be laid off, to collect the CERB for four months. Tom told them to get their damn butts on the job […]

May 21, 2020 | Last Chance?

Would you list your house during a pandemic – when people leap off sidewalks from each other and hide behind masks? Nah. Most folks are taking a pass. That’s why the number of active listings in all markets has dropped and, in some places, plunged. In the GTA, for example, new offerings in April crashed […]

May 20, 2020 | ‘Too Much of It’

Canada’s debt mess got real this week. Changes loom, including the doubling of required down payments for houses, tighter credit, more defaults, a brewing crisis in the autumn and falling real estate values. The guy in charge of the nation’s housing agency had some shocking things to say when he addressed the House of Commons […]

May 19, 2020 | The Bad Omen

Remember when we all knew Americans were hedonistic, debt-lapping, financially crippled, amusing profligates? Well, maybe not. Or could be we’re just way worse. First, consider borrowing. Households in both countries have been intemperate. In fact, when it comes to snorfling loans, Canadians have no equal. US families sharply reduced their appetite for mortgages after the […]

May 18, 2020 | Hicks

Thirty-seven months ago Dorothy, Bandit and I piled into the wagon at daybreak and hit the Parkway. Gridlock. Ninety minutes later we broke through the sticky eastern membrane of the GTA, heading east. To Lunenburg. Where we’d had a seasonal home for eight years. We never went back. At least, Bandit didn’t. It took a […]

May 17, 2020 | Don’t Be So Sure

Not only could you fly Air Canada anywhere, eat out, get a haircut, get your teeth fixed and go to the office in February, but you could also get a mortgage fast, cheap and easy. No more. We’re risk-on now. Lenders are circling the wagons. And left on the outside could be some of those […]

May 15, 2020 | Filthy Lucre

‘No cash.’ Anti-social signs like that cropped up everywhere after the virus came to town. Just one more way of building walls between people. Masks. Jumping off the sidewalk when someone approaches. Plexiglass shields. Sheltering at home. All of this has created a new reality. Covid, 1. Humanity, 0. Cash money isn’t exactly social glue, […]

May 14, 2020 | The Wages of Fear

Some notes from the Virus Diary on this Star Date 14.05.20. For years he was a GreaterFool Deep Throat undercover correspondent from the delusional, house-lusty, moist metropolis of Vancouver. Then he escaped to Europe, but remains addicted to this pathetic site (aren’t we all?). “I’ve written you now for what seems like close to 10 years,” he […]

May 13, 2020 | The Rentiers

The landless class can be so cruel. Witness a few weeks ago when this blog told you about a doctor wanting to move back into his Toronto condo so he could accept a position at the downtown St. Mike’s hospital. After renting it for five years and working out of town, he planned to move […]

May 12, 2020 | Germ Warfare

If you haven’t changed your pants in two weeks, you’re probably working from home. Isolated. So, like, what’s the point? Maybe you don’t need pants at all. Millions of people aren’t going to the office, the shop floor, the store or visiting clients any more. They haven’t for months. And more months to come. Working […]

May 11, 2020 | Into the fog

Will the virus forever change the future? Or is this just recency bias talking? After all, it’s a human failing – projecting current conditions forward. For example, when assets rise (stocks, houses, gold, Bitcoin, fine art) people think they’ll rise forever. So they buy into inflating markets. But when stuff plunges (like equities in late […]

May 10, 2020 | Free Money

Ten years ago. Mark Carney was our central bank boss. “Individuals who have taken on too much debt could be at risk of going broke if there is another adverse economic shock,” he told reporters, while delivering the latest interest rate news. Nobody cared. The debt-to-income ratio for households was 150%. The average Toronto property […]

May 8, 2020 | The Win

The GreaterFool Nation’s latest poll results are in. A decent sample – over six thousand responses in the last 24 hours. This is interesting: the readership of this pathetic blog appears to drip with maskless cowboys, eschewing government pogey, worried about civil liberties but generally supporting political anti-virus actions and definitely not going shopping or […]

May 7, 2020 | Whither Us?

Charlie spotted an ad this week on Twitter, seeking a renter. The unit is a 350-foot nest in a giant downtown 416 tower, fully furnished since it used to be an Airbnb. Before the deluge. The key point: over the course of a month the rent ask has dropped seven times, from just below $2,000 […]

May 6, 2020 | Eating Risk

Over 700,000 homeowners have pleaded for mortgage relief. What does this tell us? First (duh) these folks can’t pay, don’t want to or need the cash to finance food, Netflix and N95s. In short, they own real estate they could only afford when a regular income was flowing. No savings, no reserves, lots of stress […]

May 5, 2020 | Stay Away

This week BeeMo shocked many when the bank said it expected up to 80% of staff to stay home, post-virus. No cubicle farm. No collaborative work spaces. No elevators to floors in the sky. No gleaming bank tower. Another nail in the downtown coffin. Daniel’s one of those financial worker bees. An IT banker dude […]

May 4, 2020 | The Bull Trap

Do you agree with the following? Virus spending’s off the charts. Governments can’t just borrow the money from the Bank of Canada, which creates it out of faerie dust and unicorn flatulence (as the Mills believe). So taxes are going up. A lot. Interest rates have collapsed (look at bond yields – incredible). Mortgages are […]

May 3, 2020 | The Big Unlock

Alex asked a simple question of me on the weekend: Should we make some low ball offers on houses that have been on the market for a while (given current state of market and low level of competition) while this pandemic is still going on? Or should we wait a bit, once it becomes apparent that […]

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