Analyst: Canada’s housing market is ‘Loonie Tunes’

by Jennifer Paterson26 Mar 2015
Another analyst has added his voice to the conversation about the Canadian housing bubble, saying that the country is in the midst of an unprecedented housing boom that is likely to bust – and when it comes, it will be felt right across the country.

“It’s not unreasonable that we could see house prices fall by 30 to 50 per cent,” Vikram Mansharamani, a global equity investor and lecturer at Yale University, told CREW.

“It will pinch the entire economy and have an impact on consumers. There is a material risk that it will spread across the country.”

Naysayers who have refuted other calls of overvaluation – most notably by the Bank of Canada and the International Monetary Fund – say that Canada’s economy is regional, and that problems felt in Alberta, for instance, won’t reverberate to hot markets like Toronto and Vancouver.

But Mansharamani wrote on his website that, during a recent visit to Canada, he “noticed a schizophrenic oscillation between housing exuberance and oil-price despair” and concluded that “Canada is now among the most vulnerable large economies in the world.”

Contributing to the impending burst bubble, according to Mansharamani, is rapidly rising household debt that far exceeds GDP, house prices that have continued their upward march, and the falling price of crude oil – all of which will be felt across the country.

The naysayers point out that the impact of oil prices is a regional phenomenon, and that Alberta is not Toronto. But consider that, over the last four years, Alberta was responsible for between 50 and 85 per cent of new jobs created in Canada.

“Without the Alberta employment gains, Canada would have a nine per cent unemployment rate,” said Mansharamani. “It is oil that has helped create that strong economy.”

And many of those workers were “fly-boys,” flown from across the country to work in Alberta. “If there isn’t the work, they’re not going to fly to Alberta,” he added. “If they’re at home, what does that do to the labour markets in each of those local regions?

"It puts downward pressure on wages, it puts upward pressure on unemployment and it creates a slower consumer spending rate.”

The housing bubble burst is just around the corner, Mansharamani added on his website. “In this Loonie tune, it seems our Crazy Canadian Coyote has run off the cliff, his feet are still moving, but he has yet to look down. He’s suspended in air, and it’s only a matter of time until gravity exerts its force.”

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