Forget house prices and debt, deflation is Canada’s new bogeyman

“After spending two years watching house prices and household debt measures, investors may spend 2014 focused on inflation reports when making bets on the Bank of Canada’s interest rate outlook.”

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Reblogged from Bloomberg News

The slow pace of consumer price inflation surprised policy makers in 2013, reviving rate-cut bets and prompting the central bank to abandon its bias to raise borrowing costs. Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said in an interview last month he can’t explain the weak inflation, which is now almost a percentage point below where the bank forecast it would be at the start of last year.

“A lot of people are starting to position for CPI releases,” Mazen Issa, senior macro strategist at Toronto-Dominion Bank’s TD Securities unit in Toronto, said in a telephone interview. “Inflation is going to be one of the major stories for Canada” this year.

Statistics Canada reported Dec. 20 that annual inflation in November was 0.9%, unexpectedly staying below the central bank’s 1% to 3% target band. The difference between Canadian and U.S. two-year yields narrowed by 4.22 basis points, the largest one-day reaction to Canadian CPI data since September 2011, when inflation was above the target band.

Inflation below 1% gives the Bank of Canada “plenty of reason to be dovish,” said Camilla Sutton, chief currency strategist at Bank of Nova Scotia in Toronto. The Dec. 20 report was “a disappointment because the market thought we would go back into to that 1 to 3%” target band.

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Getting rid of risky property play will improve retirement

Situation: Couple has retirement portfolio with high risk investments that could fizzle
Solution: Get out of speculative investments, then invest for reliable income

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Reblogged from Andrew Allentuck

In Alberta, a couple we’ll call Frank, who is 57, and Ella, who is 51, emigrated to Canada decades ago to find work and build secure lives.

Starting with nothing but their will to work, Frank in a municipal civil service job, Ella in health care, they have built up about $705,000 of net worth, most of it in their $490,000 home. They worry, however, that their income from about $184,000 of financial assets plus two civil service pensions at 65 plus CPP and OAS may not be enough to sustain their retirement. The irony is that their Canadian assets would make them very wealthy in their countries of birth. In Canada, though, they worry that their liabilities could sink their retirement.

It is a legitimate concern, for they have a $70,000 line of credit to pay off at $1,200 a month, about 18% of their $6,500 combined monthly take-home pay. The line of credit was taken out to buy into a speculative land development in which they are co-owners of undivided land rather than sole owners of a defined parcel. It is a risky investment that produces no current income. Moreover, they have $37,500 in a mortgage fund in their RRSPs which yields 10% a year. That yield implies the mortgages carry more risk than banks and credit unions accept.

Family Finance asked Derek Moran, head of Smarter Financial Planning Ltd. in Kelowna, B.C., to work with Frank and Ella, who still have a daughter at home attending university.

“The good thing about the couple’s financial affairs is their dedication to their work and their home,” he says. “The not so good thing,” he notes, “is that they appear to have made investments in land and mutual funds on the basis of trust in advice.”

The interest on the loan to buy the property is not tax deductible, though it can be added to the adjusted cost base of the property, eventually reducing the taxable capital gain. Best bet: sell the land to pay off the line of credit and capture a capital gain which the couple believes to be about $30,000 or $20,000 after costs. We’ll assume they just get their money back, then invest in low fee mutual or exchange traded funds focused on producing dividends.

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