Bill’s Blog | November 9, 2023
The glory of fall is upon us with the beautiful and multi-coloured leaves descending to the earth. The wonder of nature and the yearly cycles keep me in awe of God’s handiwork. Today, we will focus on the critical trends and key indicators affecting all Canadians and investors. Let’s get started.
- All major Central Banks hold rates. What does that mean? CBs hope their rapid rate increases will eventually have their desired effect and slow inflation and the economy. Remember, it takes one to two years (lag effect) to see the results, and we are now experiencing a slowdown in many sectors. Canada CB head Tim Macklem finally admitted that the Federal government’s massive deficits are not helping! As I and many others have warned, running huge deficits (money printing by Fed or Provincial governments) causes inflation to rise.
- The only way for the governments to pay for the massive debt repayments and keep running deficits is to borrow more money and raise taxes and fees. Guess what most are doing, all three!
- The Central banks will not reverse course until something is very broken! Most likely in 2024.
- We had another small regional bank fail in the USA this week. I expect this trend to continue as commercial real estate is in trouble, and most people cannot afford housing as the massive decline in new mortgages bears witness. Mortgages are a significant part of banking profits, so this trend is not a good sign for US or Canadian banks.
- As the primary indicators show, Canada’s economic growth is rapidly deteriorating. Two-quarters of declining growth is the official definition of being in a recession. I believe we are already in a recession or not far off. Consumer confidence continues to decline on both sides of the border. Canada’s economy is far weaker than the USA’s, and Canadians carry record debt, further complicating matters.
- 60% of mortgage holders in Canada will have to refinance by 2026. Many will face considerable increases in their mortgage payments (especially in major cities where real estate is highly overvalued). Many people who choose variable-rate mortgages will be in trouble as payments will increase by over 80%. Both the Bank of Canada and OSFI (which regulates banks) warned the week of the high risks of variable mortgages.
- We are also starting to see Canadians having to do forced home sales due to being unable to afford the higher payments.
- In the short term, we have a slightly lower US dollar, lower interest rates and lower oil prices. But this can all change in a moment with the geopolitical severe risks. War is very inflationary; if the current wars escalate, we will see a second inflation surge.
- As I have mentioned in past Blogs, August to the end of October are seasonally the worst periods in the market on average. From November to December, 75% of the time, the stock market is up since 1990, often called the Santa Claus rally. The market rise will likely play out unless we have another significant global disruption or financial crisis. The second major factor is that we are heading into an election year in the US, and the Biden team will do everything possible to keep markets up.
- Despite the US’s insane deficits, which are running at 1.7 trillion this year, it is still the strongest currency in the world and has the highest treasury yields compared to Canada, the EU, Britain, and Japan. The Canadian dollar will likely weaken in 2024 to below .70 cents against the US dollar.
- In the near term, oil is bullish but in a trading range of mid-70s to mid-80s a barrel. If the Middle East war expands with Iran, expect significant and rapid spikes in price to $150 to $300 a barrel.
- Natural gas prices have been in a trading range until lately (2 to 3 dollar range) but recently traded up to the $3.50 range. Weather experts warn that with the El Nino weather cycle, North America from the midwest to the eastern coast will be frigid. They also forecast Europe will have a severely cold winter. Expect higher natural gas prices in the winter months. Most likely over $5 if the forecasts play out.
- Once again, we see the ongoing drama in Ottawa over favouring the Maritimes with their heating fuel costs (for political reasons) while punishing the rest of Canada. This current political group is so out of touch with ordinary Canadians and the struggles we are all facing with high inflation and the rise of interest rates.
- Cryptocurrencies are finally starting to break out, with the 2024 Bitcoin halving event in May and the possible US Bitcoin ETF approvals.
- As I have warned many times, we are in a highly volatile period in history, and it is best to be defensive and not take huge losses to your capital.
- There are many market opportunities, but you must be agile and willing to make shorter-time trades in suitable asset classes. If you are not a trader, consider staying in short-term treasuries or money market funds for a sizable portion of your portfolio. Gold and silver will also be safe havens in this type of market.
All the best for the remainder of the year,
Bill Westmacott is a financial educator, life insurance broker, and solution provider.