Rudyard Griffiths of the Dominion Institute, who has become a pundit-for-all-seasons, sees gloom ahead:
While the fear of a recession seems like the last thing on the mind of the average Torontonian, I for one cannot figure out how the Ontario economy can avoid a prolonged economic turndown, and most likely a nasty one at that.
Rudyard, you’re not alone. But for another take, perennially upbeat Doug Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO has just issued yet another numbered lists of reasons the Canadian economy won’t follow the U.S. into recession (leaving aside the possibility that some areas, namely Ontario, already have). The spin is in overdrive this time, as Doug’s usual list of four to five easily attacked assertions about the economy have now expanded to a top ten.
I won’t reproduce the entire list here — anyone interested can follow the link. It’s worth noting that “strong commodity prices” and “superpowerful, though almost imperceptible personal tax cuts” aren’t on the new list. Number one is “low inflation”, which Canada is certainly (if selectively) experiencing now, but will fail to be shielded by once the year-over-year numbers start comparing to last fall, when the Canadian dollar approached parity.
And number 10 is, as always, healthy housing markets. Sales across Canada are down by double-digits, and inventory has soared. Prices continue to march upward, though, which is a sign that more higher-end homes are selling as lower-income buyers are pushed out of the market. That explains continued price wars in central Toronto neighbourhoods, for example — as does the 40-year amortization product that expands affordability where it would otherwise have ceased to exist.
But ultimately, that’s a problem. Let’s not forget the housing market needs plankton as well as big fish.