Is the Canadian housing market having a #hotgirlsummer?
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Will it be a #hotgirlsummer for Canada’s housing market?
It’s no secret that Canada’s housing market is hotter than a Megan Thee Stallion music video.
Housing prices went up 25 per cent this past year, with the average price increasing from $542,484 in 2020 to $678,091 in 2021. Some speculate that we might already be in bubble territory, making the prospect of homeownership increasingly grim for first-time buyers, particularly younger millennials.
Because of the pandemic, more people across the country have been working from home. Some moved because they felt they needed more space. Others spent newfound spare time fixing up their homes, thereby increasing the value. Canadians also have more in savings, which many are choosing to direct towards down payments. On top of this, interest rates are still sitting low at 0.25%.
So what’s going to happen next?
There are a few policy options on the table that can be used to cool the housing market. Some, including large banks, have called for the Bank of Canada to increase interest rates. But with a third wave of COVID infections sweeping across the country, rates may stay low until the Bank is confident that we’re out of the woods.
Other ideas include imposing a capital gains tax on principal residences or a Canada-wide speculation tax on real estate. But such a tax might not even go into effect: the Trudeau administration said they wouldn’t introduce any “new” taxes back in August 2020.
Just last week, Canada’s bank regulator proposed changes to the “mortgage stress test,” in which borrowers applying for uninsured mortgages would need to prove that they can make payments at their contract rate plus two percent or 5.25% (whichever is higher).
None of these changes have been cemented, so we’ll just have to wait until the feds release their 2021 budget later this month.
The housing market is in desperate need of a chill pill, but it remains to be seen if Ottawa will prescribe one.
Grow Baby, Grow..!
Good news everybody! All things considered, March 2021 turned out to be a pretty good month for Canada’s economy.
Cast your mind back to March of last year – the pandemic and oil price crash left things looking extremely dire for our country (and literally the whole world) on all fronts. One year on, it seems we’ve kicked it up a notch on the long, long road to economic recovery.
Statistics Canada reported a whopping 303,100 jobs were added to Canada’s economy last month – that is three times more than economists predicted, and the second month in a row where job growth exceeded expectations.
The national unemployment rate dipped down to 7.5% as a result of these gains. Considering unemployment hit its highest at 13.7% in May of last year, we’d say this figure is really good.
The uptick we’re seeing in employment from last month can be primarily credited to the easing of restrictions that allowed for more workers to resume work in high-touch sectors. The biggest gains were observed in the retail sector, which saw the addition of 95,000 jobs.
Okay – all that being said, we shouldn’t celebrate too much. Cases are rising AGAIN in the wake of a third wave across the country, so expect some of the headway made on the economic front to double back on itself.
Remember folks, the pandemic isn’t over just yet. Wash your hands, wear your mask and get the vaccine when you can!
Janet’s Yellen about taxes…
And Trudeau says he’s listening.
Claire Porter Robbins
Last week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen raised the possibility of establishing a global minimum corporate tax rate with her G20 colleagues.
This is kind of a big deal in the economic policy world, as collaboration on such a substantive issue as corporate taxation between economic giants like the G20 is rare.
So what exactly is she proposing?
Yellen wants G20 countries (which includes heavy-hitters like China, the EU, the UK, and Saudi Arabia) to collectively raise their corporate tax rates.
Basically, Yellen is hoping for other countries to follow the United States’ lead in raising federal corporate taxes. The Biden administration has proposed hiking their current rate from 21% to 28%, a move that will require approval by their Congress and Senate. For context, in 2017 then President Trump had lowered the tax rate from 35% down to today’s 21%.
In a statement detailing the Biden administration’s tax plan, this collective rate would be determined “on a country-by-country basis so it hits profits in tax havens.” Most likely, they’re hoping countries will fall in around that 28% mark, preventing U.S. businesses from moving to lower tax destinations.
What will raising corporate taxes do?
There’s a bit of urgency behind this call to raise corporate taxes — and just like everything else, it has to do with COVID-19.
Countries have spent huge amounts of cash on emergency and recovery spending related to the pandemic, and many are running massive deficits. Canada, for example, has committed $100 billion on post-pandemic recovery alone.
To cover that spending, the US (and others) need to clamp down on tax havens, some of which, like Ireland and the Netherlands, are part of the EU (a G20 member).
Tax havens allow multinationals to siphon off an astounding amount of revenue from government pockets. According to a paper by UCLA law professor Kimberly Clausing, in 2019, U.S. multinationals booked 61% of their post-tax profits in the seven biggest tax havens.
What is Canada going to do?
We’ll see. Prime Minister Trudeau indicated he would be open to talks on a possible #collab with G20 partners, while NDP Finance Critic Peter Julian spoke strongly in favour of the plans.
At the moment, Canada’s federal corporate tax sits at 15% — but the provinces also add their own top-up. Alberta has the lowest rate, at 8%, while PEI charges a whopping 16% extra.
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This longread about a psychology professor’s research into how wealth and status affect behaviour.