Canada's big banks can withstand

RE:  Canada's Housing Market

A friend of mine who works in the mortgage industry sent this to me and I thought it was a very interesting read/article that was written.


By The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - The Fitch ratings service says it believes Canada's big banks can likely withstand a

moderate to severe housing downturn — but they would feel the pinch.


The Chicago-based service says Canada's biggest six banks — TD, RBC, Bank of Montreal,

CIBC, Scotiabank and National — all have equity ratios well above what is required under the

new Basel III requirements.


But the U.S.-based rating service says a housing crash in Canada would push down those ratios

as the value of their mortgage assets plunge in relation to their considerable loan levels.

In fact, Fitch says, it's because Canadian home values have been rising in the last seven years

despite a soft economy that the six banks have been able to appear so financially sound, as their

rivals in the U.S. and Europe have struggled.


Fitch also says loan-to-value ratios can reverse quickly during a housing correction.

"Fitch generally believes that Canadian home prices are likely nearing a plateau and could

exhibit some weakness over a medium-term time horizon," the rating service says in an

assessment issued Tuesday.


"We believe a sharper than expected correction would flow through to higher (risk-weighted

asset) levels, thereby putting further pressure on regulatory capital ratios at a time when rising

credit losses will likely hurt retained earnings."


Still, Fitch concludes the banks' capital buffers will be adequate to withstand a moderate to

severe real estate price shock.


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Michelle Lu-Do

Michelle Lu-Do

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CENTURY 21 Leading Edge Realty Inc., Brokerage*
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