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Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Rosenberg: Canadian housing is okay

David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff, remains a contrarian voice on the U.S. economic recovery, and he is also sticking to his argument that Canada is in pretty good shape – and that includes the country’s housing market.

That market has taken a few knocks recently, even attracting derision from the foreign press. The Wall Street Journal ran an article on Tuesday arguing that Canadian home prices are on a fresh tear, even as income growth lags record-high debt levels.

“All that has raised worry at the country’s central bank, which repeatedly has warned about rising debt levels, and among some economists, who say the market is ripe for a correction – maybe a steep one,” the Wall Street Journal noted.

However, Mr. Rosenberg counters these observations. Yes, debt levels are a concern but he notes that homebuilders have shown some discipline in cutting back production, to an extent that didn’t exist in the United States at the peak of its housing market. In Canada, single-family housing starts have fallen 20 per cent from year-ago levels.

“As such there is no evidence of any meaningful supply-demand imbalance that should undercut real estate valuation,” Mr. Rosenberg said in a note to clients.

“We see no reason why the Bank of Canada should be aggressive in raising rates, and at the same time, the demographics in favour of real estate are actually quite constructive, notably the influence from Canada’s business immigration platform. Note that in 2009, net international immigration to Canada surged 13 per cent. So not only is the country acting as a magnet for international capital inflow, but Canada is also being increasingly viewed as a stable place to do business and a desirable area to live.”

 

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