To The Pointwith Boris Bozic
Commentary, Opinions, Thoughts and Discussion on Current Events, Politics and The Mortgage Industry

5 Comments Canada Housing: Correction vs. Bust – Let the Finger Pointing Begin

Article written by on the 27 Sep 2012 in Canada,Current Events

canada-housing-marketOne doesn’t have to be an expert in the real estate market to grasp that there’s something different in the market today.  Call it what you will, a sense, intuition or just plain old gut feel but there’s little doubt that things are changing.  The only question that remains is the degree of change?

Here are the facts as we know it:

  • Home sales have dropped month over month by 5.8%, which is the biggest monthly drop in two years
  • Number of newly listed homes is down 1.7% month over month
  • Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board states that re-sales were down 30.7% as compared to August 2011.
  • Toronto Real Estate Board states re-sales were down 12.5% as compared to August 2011
  • According to the August 2012 CMHC quarterly report, second quarter insured mortgages unit volumes were down 25%

Indeed, things are different today.  The data speaks for itself, and the debate today has been reduced to correction versus bust.  I think it is far too early to come to come to any final conclusion but that will not stop stakeholders and the press from jumping into the debate. This issue is way too sexy to resist, and there’s a lot on the line for our economy and policy makers.  I came across an interesting quote from Wayne Moen, President of CREA., “August’s sales figures will no doubt provide comfort to policymakers, providing the first clear indication that the recent changes to mortgage regulations aimed at cooling the market are working as intended”. Very eloquent but policymakers may find the end result as comfortable a slipping into a pair of size 34 jeans, when you’re a size 38!  Policymakers insisted the most recent changes to mortgage rules targeted the tail end of the credit curve; therefore, the overall impact to the market would be marginal.   Nothing about the statistics indicates marginal, and I suspect home owners in Vancouver and those in the mortgage industry would agree.

 Look for the Vancouver market place to garner special attention in the coming months.   As an example, “the housing market correction appears to be under way, driven by the sharp downturn in Vancouver”, according to TD’s Chief Economist, Craig Alexander.  He went on to say, “we expect the slowdown will become broader based following a fourth round of mortgage insurance regulation tightening by the federal government”.  The way I interpret this is what goes for Vancouver, also goes for the entire country.  And then there’s the obvious, if it all goes bad, you know who to blame. 

Until next time,

Cheers.

 

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2 Comments Bank of Canada still locked with the US Fed?

Article written by on the 25 Sep 2012 in Canada,US Politics

Leave it to bureaucrats to come up with an acronym which acts as camouflage for the truth.  QE3, Quantitative Easing Part Three, is code for bail-out.  Politicians and bureaucrats are loath to use that term for fear of negative press and political ramifications.  If it looks like a duck, and it quacks like one, it’s a duck!  US Federal Reserve Charmin, Ben Bernanke, announced a couple of weeks ago that the Fed would inject $40 billion a month through purchases of mortgage back securities.  This move by the Fed is viewed as being dramatic in that it is a two pronged approach.  Firstly, there’s no defined time limit and they will not deviate from this policy until they succeed.  What does Fed deem to be success?  Full employment.

Rarely has the Fed exercised its authority and flexed its muscles in a such a manner.  This is a sign that the Fed has little confidence that the Whitehouse, Congress and Senate, will put their bickering and their campaign posturing aside to do what’s right.  This move has put Bernanke into the Republican crosshairs, we can use that reference in Canada because we Canadians wouldn’t take that term literally.  Being so close to the US presidential election, it’s odd that the Fed would make this move now.  Say what you will about Bernanke, he’s injected himself into this political campaign.  I believe his motivation was not political but of necessity.  Managing the economy has not been president Obama’s stronger suite, and the Republicans wouldn’t agree to anything today that Dem’s might suggest.  Fixing the US economy has been put on hold for over a year now because of the length and nature of  presidential campaigning.  Maybe Bernanke was willing to roll the dice because he has nothing to lose.   His tern as Chair expires in 2014.  The Republicans are questioning the need for a Federal Reserve Chairman, and maybe Bernanke has already decided that if asked he will not accept reappointment.  If he does step aside it would be a challenge for whoever replaces him as Chair, given no defined end date for QE3.  It is always easier to make bold decisions about the future knowing that you may not be subject to the consequences of that decision in the future.

The reverberations of QE3 will be felt here in Canada.  Bernanke has stated that the Fed is committed to leaving its target interest rate close to zero until 2015.  A few short months ago the prediction for a rate increase was 2014.  Clearly the Fed believes interest rates are too high in the US to encourage investment and mortgage borrowing.  I am not sure how enamored the Bank of Canada is with this decision.  Up until now the Bank of Canada has been in lock step with the US Fed.  Will they deviate from that?  I highly doubt it.  So, an overnight lending rate increase may have been pushed out for another 12 months in Canada.  That’s good news for consumers, especially for borrowers renewing their mortgages over the next 24 months.  The not so good news is that if you’re a first time home buyer, don’t expect the government to reverse the most recent changes to mortgage rules anytime soon. 

Until next time

Cheers

 

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0 Comments Airports Induce Crankiness

Article written by on the 20 Sep 2012 in Personal

Dateline- Sunday, September 16, 2012

As I write this blog I’m sitting on a plane waiting to go home. Of course the flight is delayed, which seems to be a given when traveling. The process of boarding and getting through security was extra special on Sunday. American Homeland Security is on high-alert due to American Embassies being under attack throughout the Middle East. Security lines were longer than normal which contributed to my overall crankiness. But what would have made even Mother Teresa cranky is flying to or departing from the world’s worst airport known to man, San Francisco International Airport.

If at all possible avoid the disaster of the San Francisco International Airport. One option is heading to LAX in Los Angeles and drive and extra two or three hours. It’s the same amount of time you need navigating this incoherent and most idiotically designed airport. This is not just my opinion; the people who work there feel the same way. Announcement after announcement is made abound flight delays. One customer service agent actually announced, “The delay is our fault because we don’t have enough runway’s, that’s the way it is folks at San Francisco International Airport“. Not enough runways? I don’t know anything about running airports but I would assume the number of runways is important.

I don’t expect much from airports. I get it, it’s not a fun place to be and we’re all cattle to be herded in a certain direction. We all put up with airport staff that have no idea about customer service, (by calling us passengers it means we can be treated like gum at the button of their shoes) and act as if they’re working there forcibly and under duress. We are all willing to put up with this for the simple pleasure of getting in and out of an airport in an orderly manner. Not much to ask, unless you’re at San Francisco International Airport. The car rental process at that airport is laughable. The location of the car rental lots might as well be in Oregon. Getting in and out of the building or to your terminal requires a Sherpa Guide and a donkey. That’s just the beginning of the Nightmare on PO Box 8097.

All will be well in a few hours when we touch down in Toronto. Can’t wait to walk through that sterile, humorless, devoid of any personality, cavernous, charmless airport which is better known as Toronto Pearson International.

Dateline – Thursday, September 20, 2012

Still cranky, maybe it has nothing to do with airports. Maybe as I get older I’m becoming a curmudgeon. For fun I will go home tonight and bitch about teenagers, politicians, the weather and my chronic back pain. Anyone want to join me for the early bird dinner special? Oh wait, that’s in Florida. Don’t get me started on those idiots down there. I can’t believe how slowly they drive in the passing lane on the Interstate, and the weather, my god it gets hot, and…

Until next time

Cheers

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1 Comments CAAMP Vlog

Article written by on the 18 Sep 2012 in CAAMP,Mortgage

“It is to our collective benefit to ensure that the talent pool is deep, and cultivating that talent will enable our industry to flourish and grow.”

Well, sort of.  Last week CAAMP forwarded the attached video to all members, and seeing how I did the narration I thought it would be appropriate to use the video as my blog.  In the event you didn’t get a chance to see the video,  it speaks to one of my initiatives, organic growth for the channel.  This is an issue that we as industry should all be cognizant of.  Succession planning is critical for any organization, and the same principles hold true for an industry.  Many of the past and present leaders of our industry still have time to make significant contributions.  But with each passing day we get closer to passing on the leadership torch.  Who will be the ones to take on that responsibility?  Many of our future leaders are among us now, and some maybe contemplating our industry as a vocation.  Identifying future leaders, and providing them with council and visibility, will assist  our industry through transition.  It is to our collective benefit to ensure that the talent pool is deep, and cultivating that talent will enable our industry to flourish and grow.  Where will the next generations of brokers, lenders and insurers going to come from?  Would it not be to our benefit to have university and college students choose brokering as a career path?  Can we continue to count on people just bumping into our industry and deciding that they’ll give it a go?  Our industry is at a crossroads.  Our market share has flatten, intense competitive factors are at play and we all now face the challenge of strong regulatory headwinds.  Our future leaders will have to be far more sophisticated to deal with these issues than we are today.  Our industry is evolving, and it will be imperative that the leadership skill level evolves at the same pace.

Until next time

Cheers

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2 Comments U.S. Election: Too Close for Comfort

Article written by on the 13 Sep 2012 in Current Events,US Politics

Copyright: CBS News (www.cbnews.com)

Most polls show the race for the oval office within the margin of error.  Stunning considering the economic mess our friends to South are in. What’s more staggering is the incumbent may perform the greatest slight of hand trick ever known to man. To be reelected based on today’s economic data would be Houdini like, straight jacket and  all.

For all intent and purposes the presidential election campaign begins post labour day weekend.  Up to this point all the primaries and conventions have been but a mere warm up.  From here on both parties will resort and say to whatever it takes to win.  The nastiness will begin in earnest, and for the president it’s imperative that the focus is diverted away from the facts.  The fact is that unemployment rate in the U.S has been understated for some time now.  The latest numbers has the U.S. unemployment rate at 8.1%, down from 8.2%.  The decrease is a function of people who have stopped looking for work, and no longer count.  Over 60% of people in the U.S. now believe their children will not be better off than they are.  Over 50% of people believe the economy is getting worse.  The latest job figures came in less than what was expected, and yet according to a new poll by Reuters, the president has actually widened his margin since the Democratic Convention.  Me thinks those who were polled must have all lived in Ontario at some point because that is the only explanation I can come up with for the bump in the polls for the president. Why let facts get in the way of a good story?

Like the millions of people outside of the U.S., I really wanted this president to succeed.  He represented change and his election was a signal to the world that race will not play a part in determining the leader of the free world.  But simply being cool is not enough to get elected.  Then again millions of Americans disagree, and to them I say, you deserve what you elect.

Until next time,

Cheers.

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1 Comments Google, How Did we Survive Without it?

Article written by on the 11 Sep 2012 in Technology/Social Media

A common phrase we all use today is, “Google it”.  I used that phrase to myself at 3:30am this morning, I’ll get to that in a moment.  But it really is amazing how we have all come to depend on this technology.  So much so, it makes you wonder how we ever managed without it.  Information at your fingertips, and it’s something we almost take for granted today.  The reality is Google hasn’t been around for that long.  It was launched in 1996, by a couple of PhD students at Stanford University.  What these two visionaries wanted to create was a universal digital library, and what a library it is!  One of the benefits of this universal digital library is that no one ever says, “shhh”.

 Here’s my latest experience with Google.  It’s 12:30am, I’m dead asleep only to hear, “get up…I just heard the garage door open”.  I clear the cobwebs, ask for the message to be repeated because maybe I was just dreaming and I can go back to sleep, but no!  The first thing I do is reach for my sand wedge, which is strategically placed close to my side of the bed, and off I go to possibly encounter an intruder, all the while hoping it’s some skinny little runt who’s ass I’ll be kicking without much fuss.  As I’m walking down the stairs, turning on all the lights, you do that mental checklist.  Alarm didn’t go off;  protect Kathy and Mack; check all the rooms and think that it really has been a good life.  Every room is empty, but now I have to check the basement like all the stupid people do in movies.  The coast was clear, I checked the garage out and everything looked normal.  I hit the remote for the garage door and it closes just like it supposed too.  This is where I convince myself that it was a one-off because I want to get some sleep.  Good luck falling back asleep.  I’m up for an another hour just to be sure.  Just as I’m about to nod off, there it goes again.  Round two, the exact routine, including the wishful thinking that it’s but a mere coincidence.  Well, when the garage door opened by itself again at 3:30am,  I made a decision to do something about it.  I grabbed my iPad and Googled, “why do garage doors open by themselves”?  There the answer appeared, one possible solution was to erase the existing code and enter a new one.  Downstairs I went to reset the codes, a how-to video demonstration courtesy of YouTube, and lo and behold the damn door stopped opening by itself.

 Google saved me X dollars because without it I would have called a garage door repair company to do exactly what I did.  I know that Google tracks every search we make and that information is for sale.  But when you need an answer, like right now, you don’t dwell on privacy issues or if Google’s practice to monitor our information gathering behaviour is ethically just.  Besides, I didn’t have any other option because my library card expired, in 1978.

 Until next time,

 Cheers.

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2 Comments Financial Literacy – Why isn’t it a Part of the Curriculum?

Article written by on the 06 Sep 2012 in Business

children financial literacy educationFinancial literacy? It’s a part of your life until death.

I came across an interesting story in Forbes online magazine, entitled, How to Raise Financially Savvy Kids. The writer, Jenna Goudreau, touches on a topic most parents have difficulty with, raising financially responsible children. Ms. Gourdreau gets into detail as to why it’s difficult to raise financially responsible children and I encourage you to read the entire story (see below).  The story resonated with me, as it forced thoughts of what we were doing in our home relative to financial literacy for our ten-year-old. The answer – not much. It’s not that we don’t believe it’s important but like most parents I think we fell into the trap of “the child will somehow learn about financial responsibility through osmoses”. Yet if our ten-year-old came home and said, “I really don’t feel like my math lessons, don’t worry, all the kids around me are doing it so I’ll pick this stuff up by just hanging around them”. Our reaction would be, LMAO! And then we would march his ass into his room to do his math.

I never understood why schools don’t make financial literacy a part of the curriculum. I’m not suggesting it’s as important as other subjects but it is damn important. For children who master calculus, that’s fantastic. But depending on their educational aspirations or career path the calculus learning may be forgotten.  Financial literacy? It’s a part of your life until death.

I was thinking about my own experiences growing up, and the lessons I learned from my parents about money. The lessons were not based on discussions but rather behaviour. By the time I was fifteen years old I had a full time summer job. There were no summers off or as my dad categorized it, “bumming around”. From the age of 15 to when school was over I was on a construction site hauling drywall for the entire summer. I remember not liking the job too much but I sure liked the money. I would save all my money and put it in the bank so I wouldn’t have to ask anyone for money if I really wanted to buy something during the winter. It gave me freedom, independence and deep rooted respect for those who did manual labour for a living. Others lessons that I learned was simply by watching my parents. My mom worked three shifts in a factory to help support the family. My dad worked long hours to provide for his family. I guess after watching them do this day in and day out I never had the nerve to ask for an allowance. I can’t imagine saying to my dad, “you want me to take the garbage out? Sure, give me five bucks”. If I ever did the first thing I would have to do is duck.

For most people financial lessons are learned through experience and the lessons can be costly. I believe some of the pain and expense can be avoided if our schools dedicated a set number of hours a week to financial responsibility and literacy. If you’re a parent give some thought to your child’s financial literacy and perhaps bring it up at the next parent teacher night. It’s time to start thinking about why the school system might be failing your child in the area of financial literacy.

Until next time,

Cheers.

 

Article: How to Raise Financially Stable Kids

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1 Comments Political Uncertainty – Too Distracted To Notice

Article written by on the 04 Sep 2012 in Canada,Current Events


The dog days of summer are over and now it’s back to normal.  The kids are back to school; you can always tell because the traffic is bigger mess than usual driving to and from work.  The distractions that come along with summer will be in the review mirror and reality will soon hit us in the face like a cold glass of water.

 For many who have tuned out over the last few months there’s a significant election taking place today in Quebec and depending on the results we could all end up feeling the aftershocks.  If the polls are correct the Parti Québécois, led by Pauline Marois, could control the leavers of power.  Just like the movie Groundhog Day, we’ve all seen this before.  Ms. Marois has made it clear that if her party is successful their demands will be clearly articulated in short order, with the ultimate objective being sovereignty.  Could this mean another referendum in Quebec? Possibly. Even if a referendum does not come to pass the mere threat of one will have an impact on the economy.  Canada is viewed as safe haven to invest and one of the main reasons for that is our political stability.  A referendum debate is a sure fire way to shake investor confidence. 

Another election looming is in B.C. The Provincial Liberals are being savaged in the polls.  Caucus members are fleeing for the exits with such speed that Usain Bolt would have to take notice.  Premier Christie Clark is taking much of the heat for the exodus and for the state of her party.  I find it interesting that B.C. has been the envy for many in our country, yet locals have grown restless.  Change is in the air and the polls indicate the NDP will once again rule.  I actually resided in Vancouver when the NDP were last in power, I can honestly say my memory of them has faded somewhat.  What I do remember is that the leaders of that party were either convicted of a crime or came under RCMP investigation. The past has a way of repeating itself, and if it does in B.C., hello headlines and uncertainty.

Here in Ontario the Premier is talking tough and taking to all the special interest groups that the Liberals have catered too to get elected.  Massive debt, unemployment levels higher than the national average are at the forefront for Ontario.  The question for the Provincial Liberal is how long will their cousins to the left prop them up. As usual in politics the polls will determine when the Liberals fall, meaning yet another election in Ontario.  So, there’s political uncertainty in Quebec, BC and Ontario.  Three key provinces will be in the news with regularity.  Like or not we’ll have no choice but to pay attention.  Summer is over and the political silly season is about to commence.  Depending what happens we could all be in for a bumpy ride.

 

Until next time,

 

Cheers.

 

 

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