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COVID-19 Are we F*cked ?

This is being written during March 2020 the COVID-19 Pandemic. At the time of publishing things were quite confused and unsure, but this is my simple opinion of where we in Canada may stand financially.

We are f*cked.

Is this me being overly alarmist? I hope so, but there are countless areas that are not likely to ever recover from the Pandemic.

As an addendum, this is added in September, and we are talking about having another lockdown. In Ottawa if you don’t follow the COVID protocols you will be fined $5000.

Travel and Vacation Industry

Dead.

  • The Air BnB industry and that side dodge is done. People will not be travelling much, for the next year or two. What happens to all those condos in Toronto that were bought with that in mind?
  • Cruises and Cruiselines? Good night, they are now synonymous with the Pandemic, if they recover it will be not in the near future.
  • Travel bloggers? Freebies are not going to be given out much, I think this gig is going to curtail or die off too. At this moment, Las Vegas is closed. This is not the W.C. Fields joke about visiting Philadelphia, this is Vegas, which never closes.
  • Airlines? These may recover if business travel returns, but they are going to take a beating, and will ask for a bail out.

Real Estate

F*cked

  • Construction sites are shutting down, thus screwing up the whole system.
    • People who are buying the new properties need to sell, but will have nowhere to go.
    • No one is buying a house right now, and when will they start?
  • Mortgages are being called and payments are being missed, renters are not being given reprieves either. What happens next? People being kicked out on the street? I doubt it, but you really don’t know right now.
    • Big wave of homelessness? I hope not, but the economic models aren’t there for this.
  • Over priced real estate may soon be worth less than their financing (i.e. mortgage), will we seeing folks walking away from their expensive high-rise downtown condo?

The Stock Market

F*cked currently having daily circuit-breaker calls.

  • Advisors are telling their customers to sell now, thus locking in their losses. They are following the buy high, sell low credo, that is not synonymous with getting rich.
  • FIRE and the entire early retirement craze should be forgotten for now. The markets have eviscerated those lofty goals for now.
  • The markets may rebound completely as it did in 2008, but surprisingly not as many folks got rich on that rebound as you might think.

Employment

F*cked, we had a weird job dynamic already, (the side gig world) but now it is F*cked.

  • My kids’ generation has had to have 3 part-time jobs to add up to a full time job, but none of those jobs exist right now. Restaurant jobs, are gone mostly due to the restaurants being closed. Retail jobs are gone, stores are closed.
  • The growth industries are:
    • Delivery, that is about it. Everything is being delivered now, but does anyone make any money doing this?
    • Government, because there is going to need to be a big government to deal with a broken country. Is this a good thing? I don’t think so, but I am a small L libertarian.
    • Debt, the world of debt is going to explode in terms of big money. Payday Loans, alternate loans and Bankruptcy Trustees are going to make big money in the short and mid term.
  • Will industries other than Travel go in the crapper? Lots of potential there
    • Retail, when folks don’t have a job, they aren’t going to be buying a lot of stuff.
    • Cars? If interest rates stay low, they may be OK, but if interest rates go up, this could make folks keep their old cars.
    • Oil and Gas already is in the crapper, with gas at 70 cents a litre, which makes it not worth working on the Oil Sands in Alberta.

Inflation

Coming, much like the four horsemen.

  • Governments are injecting Infinite money into the economy to try to prop it back up. I am not an economist, but even I know this is the recipe for Inflation (ever hyper-inflation). If money loses value, prices go up. Most folks don’t remember the 1970’s but this could be where we are heading (if not worse).
  • If we end up in an Inflationary spiral Interest Rates will have to be used to control things, and that is a world many folks have not lived in. I have seen 19% CSB’s in my lifetime, will I see them again?
  • Predatory loan companies making money on this? Absolutely.
  • Bankruptcy trustees may not be able to keep up with the tsunami coming at them.

Alarmist Clap Trap?

I really hope so. I hate to think we are financially f*cked as badly as I am guessing we are, but these are uncharted financial waters. I am not an economist, but I have lived for 60 years, and seen a lot of financial changes, and this one has me scared.

I hope we all come out of this with our health, and if we have that, all this other stuff can be dealt with, in some fashion or another.

Remember when we said, Get Out of Debt, it gives you options? This is what we meant.

What to Do?

First thing, take this article as simply a warning of what could happen. Next, make a plan for your financial world for:

  • The next week, what are you going to spend on? Why? Can you afford it?
  • The next month, assuming this stays the way it will.
  • Six Months, where hopefully around Autumn things start to turn around in terms of normalcy.
  • An overall recovery plan.
    • How are you going to recover your savings?
    • What is your retirement plan, given what has happened?
    • How do you plan around something like this happening again?
      • Hint: GET OUT OF DEBT !

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Inflation at 2011 Levels ?

We found out that Inflation is now at 2011 Levels, at 3.0% on a year-over-year basis. So what? Remember the Bank of Canada’s ideal rate is 2.0%, so this will most likely reinforce another Bank of Canada rate increase (in October). Now the B of C’s calculated Inflation is only 2.0% , but I don’t think they can ignore this kind of jump.

I haven’t commented on inflation for a while, but this report is important, for a lot of reasons. With the tariff wars that are going on, inflation is going to continue to rise (IMHO), and that will mean higher interest rates. Maybe someone will find sense and stop this Testosterone Laced bullsh*t trade war, but I doubt it.

Note also that Interest rates going up, contribute to Inflation (see the table below). Interesting spiralling effect. Stats Canada used to put out a more detailed report, but they have discontinued that report.

Biggest Inflation Contributors Over Past Year

July 2017 to July 2018
% change
Main contributors to the 12-month change
Main upward contributors
Gasoline 25.4
Air transportation 28.2
Food purchased from restaurants 4.4
Mortgage interest cost 5.2
Purchase of passenger vehicles 2.0
Main downward contributors
Telephone services -5.1
Traveller accommodation -4.1
Natural gas -5.7
Digital computing equipment and devices -3.5
Prescribed medicines -2.8

Consumer Price Index Increases by Category

CPI by Category

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The Bank of Canada yesterday announced that it is keeping its target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent. The Bank Rate is correspondingly 1 1/4 per cent and the deposit rate is 3/4 per cent, as well, which should mean that the Big Banks should not be changing their rates (but then again, they are free to do as they please).

$50 notes/Coupures de 50 $

Big Pile of Loose Canadian Money

This means that loose money rates at the Banks should continue on for a while. The Bank’s commentaries were telling as usual:

Inflation has evolved broadly in line with the outlook in the October MPR. Both total and core inflation are expected to increase and return to 2 per cent over the course of the next 12 months as the economy gradually absorbs the current small degree of slack, the growth of labour compensation remains moderate and inflation expectations stay well-anchored.

That is a sensible opinion, from my point of view. They do go on to say however:

Reflecting all of these factors, the Bank has decided to maintain the target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent. Over time, some modest withdrawal of monetary policy stimulus will likely be required, consistent with achieving the 2 per cent inflation target. The timing and degree of any such withdrawal will be weighed carefully against global and domestic developments, including the evolution of imbalances in the household sector.

In other words, we will be raising rates, some time, but we are not really sure when, but we will be watching closely to see if any kind of economic recovery heats the economy up.

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Rates Still at 1% Overnight Rate for Bank of Canada, September 2012

The Bank of Canada decided to keep their key overnight rate 1%, blah, blah, blah… you know the drill.

Things really don’t seem to be changing much this past little while do they?

Why are the rates staying the same? Here are some very good quotes from yesterday’s publication from the Bank of Canada:

“… The economic expansion in the United States continues at a gradual pace. Europe is in recession and its crisis, while contained, remains acute. In China and other major emerging economies, growth is decelerating somewhat more quickly than expected…”

OK, so the major markets of the world are not in very good shape, thus the danger of a massive spending spree (other than in China, where spending is slowing down), is not high.


“…In Canada, while global headwinds continue to restrain economic activity, underlying momentum remains at a pace roughly in line with the economy’s production potential. Economic growth is expected to pick up through 2013, with consumption and business investment continuing to be its principal drivers, reflecting very stimulative financial conditions. Business investment remains solid. There are tentative signs of slowing in household spending, although the household debt burden continues to rise….”

Global headwinds? I really love that turn of phrase, but more interestingly is the increase in household debt burden is now being spoken about by the central bank? Must be pretty bad, I guess?

Does this mean rates are going to stay down for now? I think so, but if there is an actual economic up turn in North America, all bets may be off.

Bank Rate (overnight) Since 2002, Pretty Low eh? And the Beat Goes On….

The graph stops at May, however, it is still the same as it was then, so you get the gist of things.

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CPI Drops in May 2012 in Canada? WTH?!?

Friday Stats Canada put out some interesting numbers for their Consumer Price Index report for May (and the year ending in May). It was a big drop (well a drop in the rate of increase, so it’s kind of confusing), but it only rose 1.2% (year over year ending in May) and that is due to gas price increases subsiding:

Consumer prices rose 1.2% in the 12 months to May, following a 2.0% increase in April. This 0.8 percentage point difference was mostly attributable to declines for gasoline prices. Decreases in clothing prices as well as slower price gains for the purchase of passenger vehicles were also factors.

Canada continues to be at the mercy of the price of gasoline, which is also the reason the Canadian economy is so strong (an interesting dichotomy). The Canadian dollar is strong thanks to Canada being resources rich (and tar sands in specific), yet gas prices continue to yo-yo causing inflationary jumps and drops. Maybe it’s time Canada wasn’t so reliant on Gas (I jest, since I am not some granola crunching green party member)? A more interesting paragraph followed this initial statement from Stats Canada:

The energy index fell 1.6% in the 12 months to May, its first year-over-year decline since October 2009. Natural gas prices (-16.6%) continued to post declines. Gasoline prices decreased 2.3%, after 22 months of year-over-year increases. In contrast, electricity prices continued to rise.

So electricity prices are going up and everything else is kind of going down? Given what I am seeing here in Ottawa, I agree with this statement, and think electricity prices are a little out of control (here in Ontario at least).

12 Month Change in the Energy Index

Quite the roller coaster ride, but will it continue or is this a short dip leading back to the rising prices of the past 2 years? A more interesting graphic is comparing the CPI for the last little while with and without Energy included in it:

The 12-month change in the CPI and the CPI excluding energy

So things are a little more “normal” without energy, however, energy does effect prices no matter how you slice it thanks to it’s price increases rippling through other prices (like produce and anything that has to be delivered using trucks and such).

Bank of Canada’s core index

The Bank of Canada’s core index rose 1.8% in the 12 months to May, following a 2.1% gain in April. Price gains for electricity, food purchased from restaurants and meat continued to be main contributors to the year-over-year increase in the core index.

On a monthly basis, the seasonally adjusted core index was unchanged in May, after rising 0.4% the previous month.

Interesting, so the Bank of Canada think inflation is still functioning inside of its “norms”. For this month a reprieve for Bank Rates, but what will this summer bring in terms of gasoline prices?

The Big Table

As per usual I include one of the Big Tables from Stats Canada, showing more detail on all the data:

Consumer Price Index and major components, Canada – Not seasonally adjusted

Relative import May 2011 April 2012 May 2012 April
to May 2012
May 2011
to May 2012
% (2002=100) % change
All-items Consumer Price Index (CPI) 100.00 120.6 122.2 122.1 -0.1 1.2
Food 15.99 127.7 130.1 130.9 0.6 2.5
Shelter 27.49 125.2 126.6 126.7 0.1 1.2
Household operations, furnishings and equipment 11.55 110.4 112.6 112.8 0.2 2.2
Clothing and footwear 5.31 93.7 95.3 93.4 -2.0 -0.3
Transportation 20.60 128.9 131.3 129.9 -1.1 0.8
Health and personal care 4.95 117.2 118.9 118.8 -0.1 1.4
Recreation, education and reading 11.20 106.1 105.4 106.7 1.2 0.6
Alcoholic beverages and tobacco products 2.91 135.7 137.7 137.7 0.0 1.5
Special aggregates
Core CPI 82.15 117.8 119.7 119.9 0.2 1.8
All-items CPI excluding energy 89.92 117.3 119.1 119.3 0.2 1.7
Energy 10.08 160.2 161.0 157.7 -2.0 -1.6
Gasoline 5.80 190.5 192.9 186.1 -3.5 -2.3
All-items CPI excluding food and energy 73.93 115.0 116.6 116.7 0.1 1.5
Goods 47.80 114.4 115.3 114.7 -0.5 0.3
Services 52.20 126.7 129.1 129.5 0.3 2.2
1. 2009 CPI basket weights at April 2011 prices, Canada, effective May 2011. Detailed weights are available under the Documentation section of survey 2301 (www.statcan.gc.ca/imdb-bmdi/index-eng.htm).
2. Figures may not add to 100% as a result of rounding.
3. The Bank of Canada’s core index excludes eight of the Consumer Price Index’s most volatile components (fruit, fruit preparations and nuts; vegetables and vegetable preparations; mortgage interest cost; natural gas; fuel oil and other fuels; gasoline; inter-city transportation; and tobacco products and smokers’ supplies) as well as the effects of changes in indirect taxes on the remaining components. For additional information on the core CPI, please consult the Bank of Canada website (www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/price-indexes/cpi).
4. The special aggregate “Energy” includes: electricity; natural gas; fuel oil and other fuels; gasoline; and fuel, parts and supplies for recreational vehicles.

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