CMHC shrugs off 'bubble' talk, defends role in debt financing
Tue, 05/08/2012 - 19:05 EDT - Financial Post
Analysis: Canada’s housing agency issued an annual report Tuesday that reads like a defence of its business practices, and says despite concerns about the possibility of an overheated housing sector, there was no sign of a bubble
One major factor behind Canadian banks being the envy of the financial world is that they get so much help from the federal government.
But there may be strings attached to that security — one analyst is predicting that the big banks could actually get hit with the bill in the unlikely event that Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. — which insures about $560-billion worth of the country’s mortgages — ever needs to be bailed out.
OTTAWA, Ont. — Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. president and CEO Karen Kinsley is stepping down after a quarter century with the provider of mortgage loan insurance.
Kinsley announced the move in what she described as her 10th and final message for CMHC’s annual report and at a time that Ottawa has been moving to reduce taxpayer exposure to housing market debt.
“CMHC has been my home away from home for 25 years and I cannot adequately express how proud I am of our achievements,” Kinsley wrote.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., the country’s national housing agency, is finally on the path to being operated like a significant financial player which it has morphed into during the past decade.
A new chairman of the board, a soon-to-be unveiled chief executive and a new reporting structure that will overhaul its operations are the tangible indications of the fundamental changes playing out behind closed doors at the Crown corporation that have been set in motion by the federal government.
Fitch Ratings which has argued that real estate in Canada is significantly overpriced now believes that the sector is headed for at worst only modest declines this year.
In a report published on Tuesday the rating agency said it expects prices to remain “broadly flat” in Canada, in contrast to Australia, Germany and the U.K., where values will rise due to low interest rates, solid economic growth and increased availability of credit.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Friday he regrets that Canada’s housing agency has grown as large as it has and promised to take additional measures if a reduction in the amount of government insurance on mortgages is needed.
The value of home loans insured by Canada Mortgage & Housing Corp., which is backed by the federal government, has almost doubled since the end of 2006, saddling taxpayers with a growing liability as policy makers warn that gains in house prices may be unsustainable.
Larry Smith delivers his warning in the kind of the gruff, no-nonsense tone you might expect from a guy who’s seen it all before and said everything he thought he could about the housing market in years past, back when people might have listened.
OTTAWA • With a long learning curve ahead of him, Stephen Poloz will need to turn to the Bank of Canada’s No. 2 policymaker for support when he takes the helm in June.
But will senior deputy governor Tiff Macklem, snubbed by the institution he so dearly wanted to lead, be around much longer to lend a hand?
Mr. Poloz, 57, was named Thursday as the next central bank governor, replacing Mark Carney who is leaving to head the Bank of England.
Brace yourself. It turns out the National Energy Program isn’t completely dead after all.
A legislative remnant remains on the statute books. It’s a short seven-section statute called the Oil Substitution and Conservation Act that was passed by Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government in 1981. The NEP, of course, famously alienated the West, and Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative government of the latter 1980s would dissect most of it. But apparently not all.
OTTAWA — Statistics Canada has been touted worldwide as upholding a gold standard in number-crunching.
But at home, its reputation has been challenged by what is seen as diminishing resources, sometimes questionable results and occasional gaffes.
That image was tarnished slightly again this week, with the federal agency having to defend an 11th-hour decision to delay a critical national survey, due to a data error, saying its review process caught the mistakes and they were being corrected.
Most summers, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty gathers with a group of CEOs, academics and policy wonks in the quiet Quebec village of Wakefield. Two years ago, Robert P. Kelly, the newly minted chairman of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., was among the 25 invitees who attended the August, 2011 retreat. At the time, the 59-year-old Haligonian inhabited a corner office on Wall Street as chief executive officer of The Bank of New York Mellon, the fifth largest in the U.S.