Advertisement

W-shaped recovery would be ‘severe’ without government relief: CMHC

Click to play video 'Real estate trends looking optimistic in 2021' Real estate trends looking optimistic in 2021
The real estate market is looking optimistic even as the calendar turns. Realtor Jeff Thiessen with Century 21 Fusion tells Global News Morning that homes priced right are going very quickly – Jan 13, 2021

A W-shaped recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic could trigger a nearly 50 per cent drop in housing prices and a peak unemployment rate of 25 per cent, if the government doesn’t offer relief, says the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

A W-shaped recovery is when an economy begins to rebound from a recession quickly but then rapidly falls into another period of downturn before recovering again.

“That scenario is very severe and implausible in nature, but it’s very important to understand,” said CMHC’s chief risk officer Nadine LeBlanc in a Thursday media briefing.

Read more: Pandemic housing boom means affordability is no longer just a big-city problem

 

The scenarios LeBlanc discussed are not meant to be predictions or forecasts tied to what CMHC sees headed for the country as it continues to grapple with COVID-19, but the agency runs the tests anyway to help with risk mitigation and offer transparency for Canadians.

Story continues below advertisement

It began the tests at the onset of the pandemic, giving them a more realistic feel, but in past years has studied its ability to cope with sustained low oil prices, a global trade war, earthquakes, major volcanic eruptions and cyberattacks on financial institutions.

Of all the scenarios CMHC looked at this year, the W-shaped recovery without government support is the most implausible, but likely to cause the severest impacts, LeBlanc said.

She predicted CMHC’s solvency and capitalization would likely be challenged in a W-shaped recovery where the government doesn’t step in to offer relief.

CMHC found that a W-shaped recovery with government support would curtail the severity, be more manageable and only cause a roughly 32 per cent drop in home prices and a 24 per cent unemployment rate.

Read more: A mortgage rate of less than 1% now available in Canada

If the W-shaped recovery with government support was coupled with a severe cyberattack targeting the country’s whole financial industry, CMHC stress test results show a 37 per cent decrease in home prices and a 24 per cent unemployment rate would be likely.

In that scenario, cumulative insurance claim losses would reach $8.4 billion – roughly half the amount CMHC said the country would see in a W-shaped recovery with no government assistance.

Story continues below advertisement

CMHC also looked at a U-shaped recovery, where a recession gradually improves.

In that scenario, they found house prices would fall by almost 34 per cent, the peak unemployment rate would be nearly 15 per cent and cumulative insurance claim losses would reach $9.6 billion.

Click to play video 'Million-dollar mortgages common now in the GTA' Million-dollar mortgages common now in the GTA
Million-dollar mortgages common now in the GTA – Dec 10, 2020

That scenario was the most plausible and would likely generate the most moderate impacts, LeBlanc said.

Many economists have been predicting Canada will see a K-shaped recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

It wasn’t on CMHC’s radar when it started looking at stress testing last March, but there is some interest in it, LeBlanc hinted.

“We’re obviously not out of this crisis and so CMHC continues right now running stress testing and one that’s looking very interesting to us is the K-shaped scenario.”

Advertisement