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The Hutch Report

Trump News Network – The Master Plan

By | Media, Politics

The 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump was formally launched on June 16, 2015, at Trump Tower in New York City. However, some wonder if becoming president was Trump’s main goal all along. There have been a number of clues that have surfaced over the years that could lead us to believe that what Trump really was planning was to start his own international news network to rival that of CNN and others. Then something unexpected happened, he actually won. 

Although this has all the hallmarks of classic conspiracy theory, when Donald Trump is involved, we have come to learn that anything is possible so we decided to look into it a bit deeper. 

Reports surfaced throughout the 2016 election that Trump was reportedly considering overseeing the creation of a new news network if he had not won the election, that would focus on conservative perspectives and voices on current events. 

Back in August of 2016, The New York Times initially reported that Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner had explored the possibility of either creating a media property or acquiring one, according to a person briefed on the discussions, who asked for anonymity to discuss private conversations.

The Financial Times then reported in October 2016 that Kushner had discussed the possibility of a Trump-branded television network with Aryeh B. Bourkoff, the chief executive of LionTree, a boutique investment bank that had helped advise media deals.

NBC news wrote in October of 2016, “The Donald Trump TV Network Could Be Just Three Months Away.”

Trump has been attacking CNN in particular since the beginning, claiming the network’s international operations represent the United States poorly. He tweeted most recently back in November 2018, “While CNN doesn’t do great in the United States based on ratings, outside of the U.S. they have very little competition,” “Throughout the world, CNN has a powerful voice portraying the United States in an unfair and false way.”

“Something has to be done,” he added, “including the possibility of the United States starting our own Worldwide Network to show the World the way we really are, GREAT!”

Trump has certainly not hidden his feelings about which networks he admires and those he despises. If Trump did launch his own network, “You could easily see Sean Hannity defecting from Fox News,” said NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik. 

It should therefore not be surprising that just yesterday, in a new piece for the New Yorker, investigative journalist Jane Mayer reported that a few months before the Justice Department filed its lawsuit, Trump pressured Gary Cohn, the former director of the National Economic Council, to tell the Justice Department to block AT&T’s Time Warner deal (Time Warner being CNN’s parent company).

Dr. Pippa Malmgren, who has previously served as Special Assistant to the President of the United States, George W Bush, for Economic Policy on the National Economic Council recently spoke on the Macrovoices Podcast and expressed the idea that Donald Trump never expected to win. He ran for President to pursue an ulterior motive. She went on to say, that a news network would provide Trump with “less constraints and freedom to tweet anything he wants.” Creating the Trump News Network (TNN) would help Trump transition into a global brand and enable him to have “more influence” than he has as president. She believes that for this reason, “Trump will decide not to run again,” instead, he will launch TNN and that he will wait just weeks before the election to announce this and thereby completely disrupt the whole process. The net result would drive massive attention to his cause.

Conspiracy theory? Maybe, but we will have to wait for the elections to see how this one turns out.  

The Hutch Report

Trump has a socialist agenda (when it benefits him)

By | Politics

Everyone who lives in a capitalist society wants capitalism to work for them, but when it doesn’t they scream for socialism support. This is not a bad thing. There are a number of programs such as medicare, social security and food stamps that people are thankful for when they can use the help (“socialism” is commonly applied as a term for using government programs as a social welfare state to help people who need assistance). 

However, if you are going to apply these programs then at least accept the hybrid economic model as is and don’t slam one against the other. 

Formal economies operate within limits of established and monitored policies and regulations. Informal economies do not and therefore include underground economies. Capitalism and socialism are considered formal economies. 

The major differences between capitalism and socialism are based on the role of the government and equality of economics. Capitalism allows for economic freedom, consumer choice, and economic growth. Socialism, which is an economy controlled by the state and planned by a central planning authority, provides for a greater social welfare and decreases business fluctuations. The truth is, there are elements of socialism in all capitalist economies, although many would not like to admit.

We can start with the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve is a “central” bank with centralised power over interest rates and the power to print money under the guise of financial system “stability.” Although one wonders what is meant to be stable in a capitalist society? Capitalism is inherently unstable and prone to boom/bust periods, or crises, even during a period of strong and stable growth. There is a history of recessions that prove it. However, lately the Fed is doing everything in their power to avoid recession.

Consider the two following statements;

“Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.”

Congress shall have power to “coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures.”

The second statement comes from the United States Constitution, Article 1 Section 8. The first statement was written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in 1848 in their infamous “Communist Manifesto.”

The Federal Reserve could never exist to operate the way it does in an open democracy. They have a strong recent history of socializing risks (making taxpayers responsible for bankers’ losses) and privatizing their profits (letting the bankers keep their bonuses) for the benefit of its members (the banks). An audit of the Federal Reserve uncovered details about how the U.S. provided an astounding $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the crisis of 2008. This highlights that the Federal Reserve has to transform America to a socialist model in order to maintain its own growth and ultimate power which it has shown to do quite effectively.

Pro Publica has been tracking where taxpayer money has gone in the ongoing bailout of the financial system. Their impressive database accounts for both the broader $700 billion bill and the separate bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

How about the President? Where does he stand on the socialist agenda? He has had a lot of praise for many socialist leaders. Does this make him one? Probably not. This could be a simple mafia strategy of keeping your friends close and your enemies closers, or he actually has a real admiration for them. 

But how about his actions? In spite of his public distain for the socialist agenda, he recently announced that he is going to implement price controls (socialism) on prescription drugs.  Since he was elected, GM has got more than $600 million in federal contracts plus $500 million in tax breaks. Some of this has gone into the pockets of GM executives. Chairman and CEO Mary Barra raked in almost $22 million in total compensation in 2017 alone. As the Trump administration continues trade talks with China, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has paid out a total of $7.7 billion in aid to farmers to offset the effects of tariffs. 

So, the US clearly has shown to exercise a socialist will on many occassions (and will most likely do so on a much bigger scale during the next economic downturn). Does this put it in the same category as Russia or China? Of course not, but don’t slam socialism ideals when you are taking advantage of them. 

The Hutch Report

The Fate of Blockchain

By | Cryptocurrency, Finance, Technology

Nasdaq reported today that they are investing in blockchain technology, and pushing for crypto and blockchain adoption. According to an official press release, Symbiont successfully closed a $20m Series B funding round. Nasdaq Ventures led the round which also included investors such as Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital, Citi and Raptor Group among others.

Adena Friedman, President, and CEO of Nasdaq commented, “It is difficult to ignore the huge amount that investors, including some of the most sophisticated global investors, have poured into digital currencies in recent years. The invention itself is a tremendous demonstration of genius and creativity, and it deserves an opportunity to find a sustainable future in our economy …

At Nasdaq, we are working to help cryptocurrencies gain investors’ trust by offering our technology for trade matching, clearing, and trade integrity to start-up exchanges. We have also invested in ErisX, an institutional marketplace for cryptocurrency spot and futures. While this year will be another proving ground for cryptocurrencies, we believe digital currencies will have a role in the future. The extent of its impact will depend on the evolution of regulation and broader institutional adoption.”

The MIT Technology Review recently stated that the blockchain will become more useful, however, they also believe that blockchains will start to become boring this year. After the Great Crypto Bull Run of 2017 and the monumental crash of 2018, blockchain technology won’t make as much noise in 2019.

The blockchain enthusiasts are still working towards gaining world adoption for the technology, however as often cited, the level of investment into the technology should not be taken as a sign of its inevitable success. If that were the case the fate of so many grandiose startups in the 1999 – 2000 boom would have turned out quite different considering the level of investment that went into many of them. A leading venture capitalist told me once, “the graveyard is littered with many brilliant technologies.”

If google trends is any indication then interest in bitcoin and blockchain have been declining, or at least for the moment.

The Hutch Report
The Hutch Report

On this past Wednesday, January 23, 2019, VanEck, the firm that had sought SEC’s approval to trade Bitcoin ETF on the CBOE exchange, withdrew its application. Analysts and crypto followers believed that the launch of a regulated Bitcoin ETF would attract billions of dollars in investments and saw these initial moves as a positive step towards global adoption. Yet, now that they have withdrawn their application, the news is being spun as something positive for the crypto industry, or at least according to NewsBTC

As the great baseball-playing philosopher, Yogi Berra once said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Nassim Taleb views those trying to predict the future as simply “charlatans.” The problem is that almost all forecasters work within the parameters of the Gaussian bell curve, which ignores large deviations and thus fails to take account of “Black Swans”. Taleb defines a Black Swan as an event that is unexpected, has an extreme impact and is made to seem predictable by explanations concocted afterwards. It can be both positive and negative. 

One of these so called deviations could be the advances of Quantum Computing, as we previously wrote about here, or it could be something not yet determined. 

The simple fact is that you have two groups — interested participants and non-interested participants. The interested participants will keep investing time and funds in order to realise the original objective of creating a decentralised peer-to-peer network where no single institution or person controls it. The non-interested participants will only adopt the technology once they believe it is in their advantage to do so and it becomes as simple as handing a friend a dollar bill.

 

The Hutch Report

The Great Gold Consolidation

By | Markets

It seems that the merger activity amongst gold miners is continuing. On Monday, January 14, 2019, gold miner Newmont Mining said that it would buy smaller rival Goldcorp in a deal valued at $10 billion. Newmont will offer 0.3280 of its share and $0.02 for each Goldcorp share. According to the company’s statement, the combined company’s reserves and resources will represent the largest in the gold sector and will be located in favourable mining jurisdictions in the Americas, Australia, and Ghana.

The latest merger falls on the heels of last year’s mega merger between Barrick Gold and Randgold Resources. Trading in the shares of the new company started at the opening of business on the New York and Toronto Stock Exchanges January 2. The new company is still known as Barrick but its trading symbol on the NYSE has been changed to GOLD, the ticker formerly held by Randgold on NASDAQ. On the TSX, the ticker remains ABX.

The merger created a gold company which now owns five of the industry’s Top 10 Tier One gold assets1 (Cortez and Goldstrike in Nevada, USA (100%); Kibali in DRC (45%); Loulo-Gounkoto in Mali (80%); and Pueblo Viejo in Dominican Republic (60%), and two with the potential to become Tier One gold assets (Goldrush/Fourmile (100%) and Turquoise Ridge (75%), both in the USA). 

Overshadowed by the Barrick merger was the acquisition of Beadell Resources and its Tusan Gold mine in Brazil by Great Panther Silver. In a telephone interview with Kitco News, Jim Bannantine, president and CEO of Great Panther Silver (NYSE: GPL, TSX: GPR), said that he thinks investors are only seeing the start to more mergers within the mining space as companies are beginning to take advantage of low valuations in the marketplace.

According to a new report by Fitch Solutions, Gold miners are expected to remain committed to cutting costs and capping expenditures in 2019. Gold prices are predicted to average $1,300/oz and it is believed that most major miners’ cash costs of production should remain comfortably below $900/tonne. The largest firms are expected to remain committed to spending cuts in order to reduce debt loads, and continue to follow a strategy of improving both operational and cost performance. Fitch also stated that, “Capital expenditure estimates for 2019 indicate that although gold companies may have turned a financial corner in 2016, spending will not return to the heights of the past decade. As such, priority will be given to reinvestment in brownfield assets rather than the development of greenfield projects.”

Following the Barrick – Randgold merger (completed in January 2019), and now the Newmont – Goldcorp merger, we should expect more M&A activity to filter through the industry in addition to and increase in joint ventures as a strategy to reduce risk, especially in unstable countries. An example of notable joint venture activity in 2018 include Gold Fields & Asanko Gold’s 50/50 deal in the Nkran and Esaase gold deposits in Ghana and Indiana Resources and Cradle Arc’s 65/35 deal in the Kossanto West Gold project in Western Mali.

Not surprisingly, as an added measure to further reduce risk in these volatile areas, miners are expected to invest in blockchain technology. According to Fitch, such a system would allow them to effectively track the sourcing of minerals across the supply chain in order ensure they abide by ethical and sustainability standards.

Gold prices have been consolidating since the previous move up in 2016. If the price of gold moves up above the resistance level of $1,400 it could help propel the miners who have gained the greatest operating efficiencies. 

Previous to today’s takeover of Goldcorp by Newmont, articles of the past few years were focused on who Goldcorp would takeover, disregarding Goldcorp as the target. So now in light of that, the question is, “Who is the next prime takeover target?” The top 10 in the industry according to current market capitalisation levels are now Barrick Gold, Newmont Mining, Franco-Nevada, Agnico Eagle, Kirkland Lake, Royal Gold, AngloGold Ashanti, Kinross Gold, Goldfields and B2Gold. Will we see consolidation amongst the 10 largest as we have just witnessed or are the juniors ripe to be taken over? Either way, the current consolidation activity should create some strong valuation plays for the future should the price of gold finally make its move upward. 

Kirkland Gold has broken away from the pack.
The Hutch Report

The Yin and Yang of 5G

By | Technology

2019 is set to be the year where we will see the launch of actual 5G wireless networks, and just like with 4G, mobile devices are set to be a big enabler of the next generation of mobile connectivity. But with every positive there comes a negative.

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The Hutch Report

The New Economic Hitmen

By | Economics, Finance, Politics

John Perkins original book, “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” and his current book, “New Confessions of an Economic Hitman” brought to light some of the strategies the US has used over the years in order to gain control of foreign reserves that American companies may want to seize, such as oil. 

According to Perkins, the method of achieving this end was to use external consultants such as the one he worked for. They would arrange large loans for those countries via the World Bank and its partner organizations. However, the governments in question never received the money. Instead, the money would be transferred, directly or indirectly, to American companies, including construction firms like Halliburton or suppliers like General Electric. These American entities would then launch infrastructure projects which may have included power grids, or industrial parks and highways. These projects generated huge profits. However, not surprisingly, those profits went to the American companies and a few rich local familes. In the end, these countries that were already weighed down by huge debts just saw their debts grow larger, which in turn pressured the already poor and middle class. 

Typically, a developed country with a dictator that sits on a perch makes for a soft target. Dictators are often propped up by failed systems like corrupt police force and military. They are usually the most eager to redeem their images so if you can take photos with them signing agreements about huge infrastructure projects it will help soften their soily images.  Therefore, they are happy to stand on the podium and tell their ill-informed, semi-literate populace about the development the government is bringing to their country. 

As an example, in the 70s, large loans were provided to build a power grid in Panama. The real goal was to force the then Dictator Omar Torrijos into a situation where he owed the US a lot of money in order to have something to blackmail him with because at that point, his bankrupt country would be beholden to them. As Africans would say, you hold both the yam and the knife. In 1977, Torrijos signed a deal with the US, which guaranteed that the government of Panama would have full control of the Panama Canal starting 1999. In 1981, he was killed in a car crash.

Omar Torrijos

Looking at the situation today with the number of sanctions and tariffs being thrown around one has to wonder who the principle targets of the current administration are. Russia? The truth is, Russia and the US have been playing spy games on each other for years. The real targets are the emerging economies. “I have no doubt that there are economic hitmen targeting emerging economies like Turkey’s,” Perkins said in an interview to the Turkish based Anadolu Agency. But Turkey is not the only country where the US has imposed sanctions and tariffs. Currently, sanctioned countries include the Balkans, Belarus, Burma, Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Iraq, Liberia, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and Zimbabwe.

In today’s globalised world economic hitmen are no longer only US based. Today they may come from any number of other countries, including Russia and China. Globalisation has created huge opportunities for economic hitmen around the planet.

Trump’s administration sees infrastructure as one of the key areas to boost US economy. However, the recently published Infrastructure plan has been criticised for lack of money and is highly dependent on private capital. The US is already running large deficits and the national debt now currently stands at $21.8 trillion. 

China, with its strong infrastructure achievements and the largest amount of foreign exchange reserves (China has by far the largest foreign currency reserves with over two and a half times more than the second largest reserve holder, Japan. When China and Hong Kong reserves are considered together, the total is $3.6 trillion), is constantly looking for low-risk long-term investment projects to achieve asset preservation and appreciation. By targeting the US, China could balance its foreign exchange levels while accelerating the rejuvenation of American infrastructure. This would also transform China into a job creator in the US. 

The Hutch Report

The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macao Bridge, 55 kilometres long.

China is currently employing this strategy throughout Africa along with their One Belt, One Road initiative. China has been the largest trading partner of Tanzania for many years with some 350,000 Tanzanians doing jobs related to trade with China. Also Chinese companies have built a number of mega projects in Tanzania, including roads and bridges, creating about 150,000 jobs. 

Interestingly, on his last trip to the continent just before being replaced, Rex Tillerson said that African countries should be careful not to forfeit their sovereignty when they accept loans from China, the continent’s biggest trading partner.

Would Trump be open to outsourcing the development of the US infrastructure to Chinese firms? The short term boost to Trump’s reputation may blind him to the longer term complications. Could the US itself become a target of the economic hitmen?

The Hutch Report

The Slippery Slope of Oil

By | Economics

WTI Oil has been falling steadily from the October high of $76.9, trading currently at $50.96. That is a 33.7% decline in just over a month and a half. Although this may be good news for the end consumer it is causing serious problems elsewhere.

One of the more complicated situations regarding the price of oil has arisen in the province of Alberta. In fact, Alberta is currently in a crisis as the province’s oil is being sold at a discount of about $45 a barrel to WTI. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has said the price gap between Canadian and U.S. crude is costing the Canadian economy $80 million a day.

You would think that oil being sold for that much of a discount would be bought up in no time, however the reality is more complicated. Where the oil is produced geographically matters, because it needs to be transported from its point of production to a refinery. This impacts the price received for the oil.

Tim McMillan, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said the main issue is there isn’t enough pipeline capacity. In late August of this year, a Federal Court of Appeal ruling put a halt on the Trans Mountain expansion project; in 2017, the federal government scrapped the Northern Gateway pipeline; and Keystone XL is still hung up in legal wrangling in the United States.

A Scotiabank Economics report ,released this week echoed that point where they said, “Alberta’s oil producers are facing an extraordinary challenge caused by pipeline bottlenecks combined with growing production.” As of 2017, the oil sands were filling up some 2.7 million barrels per day, according to Natural Resources Canada. When that’s combined with other oil sources, the oil awaiting export is roughly the same as pipeline capacity from Western Canada, and so there’s a pinch point: If pipeline capacity is reduced for maintenance, or if companies book pipeline space, but don’t actually send oil — so-called air barrels — then there’s a backlog.

So not only is the falling price of oil exacerbating the current situation in Alberta, we may expect to find a similar situation south of the border. The Permian Basin, which covers 75,000 square miles over West Texas and southeast New Mexico, is the most prolific oil producing basin in the country – so much so that it’s become difficult to find ways to get the product to market. Wells Fargo recently projected that oil pipeline constraints in this area may last until 2020, versus its previous prediction of the third quarter of next year. That means more transport by rail or truck.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) wrote just recently in a report on energy investment that, “Higher prices and operational improvements are putting the US shale sector on track to achieve positive free cash flow in 2018 for the first time ever.” How quickly things can change as the sector may be forced to relive the last downturn where the ink on the chapter 11 filings has hardly had time to dry.

In 2014, the market downturn forced a bunch of companies operating on the edge out of business. Nearly 100 shale companies filed for bankruptcy in 2015 and 2016. Oil was trading around $40 at the time. Although this downturn forced drillers to become more efficient, the BNEFestimated that break-even prices still range from $31.61 a barrel for the best Permian Midland wells to $188.25 for the weakest Permian Delaware wells.

GlobalData Energy came out with an interesting report in June that analysed recent wells drilled by 26 operators in the area. It found that the break-even oil prices for wells with lateral lengths of 4,500 to 10,500 feet ranged from $21 to $48 per barrel. So if you assume somewhere from $30 to $50 breakeven then we can expect to soon see another flood of bankruptcies as oil continues to tank.

The Hutch Report

Vancouver Real Estate – Is the bubble deflating?

By | Economics, Politics

“It is different this time,” “This is the place everybody wants to be,” has been the talking points when referring to the impressive rise of Vancouver and its real estate market. Unfortunately all markets that experience a rapid escalation of asset prices, as we have seen in Vancouver, eventually experience a painful contraction whereby, as macro investor Raoul Pal puts it, “The big uglies come out.” Are we starting to see what those big uglies are in the Vancouver real estate market?

Vancouver has been the victim of a number of economic events in the world that have culminated in the development of its current dangerous real estate bubble. Central bankers driving interest rates down to historic lows and keeping them there for years, the rapid rise of China’s economy along with the massive number of its newly printed Chinese millionaires, the rise of corruption in China, the exodus of this corrupt money along with Chinese government efforts to reign it in, are just a few of these events.

Life in Vancouver, where the talk of real estate riches and Vancouver suddenly becoming the place to be, has become the favourite subject among its residents, although they may not be aware that other regions in the world have experienced the same impact and will experience the same result. 

Top residential real estate brokerages in the US have been promoting US homes to investors in China for years. Brokerage firms in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries have done the same. They have set up units in China and have partnered with Chinese real estate portals, such as juwai.com. However, one place where the real estate bubble is most prevelent is in China itself. According to a recent report by Bloomberg, a fifth of China’s housing is empty. That’s 50 Million homes! 

This is what happens when rampant speculation in a market is not contained. Unfortunately when there is money to be made people disregard the splitting hangover that the all night party can bring. 

So what has the impact been in Vancouver?

For too long Vancouver disregarded the longer term risks and turned a blind eye to the massive amounts of corrupt speculative money that was pouring in from China. The low interest rates fuelled the building in Vancouver in order to satisfy the insatiable thirst for Vancouver real estate. (This was pretty much the same story in Australia and New Zealand). There was a rapid rise in prices pushed up by Chinese buyers, in addition to Vancouver residents rushing into the market for fear of missing out. The result was Vancouver real estate became quickly unaffordable to many of its own residents. 

Only recently has the government tried to halt the rise. In 2016, Vancouver became the first Canadian City to collect an empty homes tax, charging one per cent of the home’s assessed value if the owners are not living in it or are renting it out for less than six months. In addition, the government also imposed a 20% foreign property buyers tax.  

Elsewhere, New Zealand’s parliament banned many foreigners from outright buying existing homes in the country – a move aimed at making properties more affordable. New Zealand is also facing a housing affordability crisis which has left home ownership out of reach for many.

Canada, New Zealand and others are not the only ones taking measures to reign this in. China has begun cracking down. Over the last decade, an estimated $3.8 trillion in capital has left China. Net foreign direct investment over the same period of time has amounted to $1.3 trillion, leaving the country with a net loss. To reduce capital flight, the Chinese government has developed a complex system of capital controls, such as limiting transfers of $50,000. However, that has not stopped the Chinese from being creative. The CEO of a Chinese company moved $750,000 from China to Metro Vancouver for a real estate deal with the help of nine strangers who each brought $50,000 into Canada for “tourist purposes,” according to a B.C. Supreme Court judgment.

But in spite of these controls the damage has been done and now increasing interest rates may just be fuelling the fire as the news starts to trickle in. 

According to economists at the Royal Bank of Canada, owning a home in Vancouver is the most unaffordable it has ever been in any Canadian City. In fact, they found affordability to now be “at crisis levels” where it would take a record 88.4 per cent of one’s income to cover ownership costs. Statistics Canada reported that, “Credit market debt as a proportion of household disposable income increased to 169.1 per cent as growth in debt outpaced income. In other words, Canadians owed $1.69 in credit market debt for every dollar of household disposable income.”

Credit reporting agency TransUnion released data showing that Vancouver residents have the highest debts among those who are in major cities, owing an average of $38,753 in non-mortgage, consumer debt through the first quarter of 2018.

Vancouver residents, and Canadians in general, are growing increasingly anxious about their ability to handle higher interest rates, with a new survey showing a rising proportion of consumers fear they will be pushed over the brink. Rightly so, they are concerned mostly about their high-ticket items such as a mortgages and car loans.

As we began this article, the explanation for Vancouver’s real estate rise was its attraction as a city, at least according to many of its residents, its natural beauty and idyllic west coast location. Although in my opinion this is true (considering it is my home town) to a point. There is a difference between speculation and purchasing a home to live in. The first clue that we were dealing with speculators, as is the case in China, should have been the number of empty houses and condos in Vancouver (which was the reason the city eventually created the empty homes tax). 

What has been the effect of these controls on speculators?

Vancouver is now ranked as the worst place in the world for luxury homebuyers seeking a return on their investment, according to a global survey of 43 “prime residential” cities. The Knight Frank Prime International Residential Index found that, while luxury property prices globally were up an average of 4.2% in the third quarter, compared with the same period in 2017, they fell 11.2% in Vancouver, where luxury home sales have tanked. No other Canadian city made the list, and Vancouver ended up ranked No. 43.

For those in Vancouver who refuse to believe bubble talk and believe that the Chinese will keep purchasing and supporting the real estate market for years to come, they may want to rethink that. Beijing has warned of its zero tolerance for dual nationality. Now some foreign citizens who held on to their Chinese identity documents fear the consequences of returning, according to South China Morning Post. In addition, it is hard to believe that the Chinese will be rushing to give up their Chinese citizenship at a time in history when China promises to be the next great economic powerhouse. 

The problem with living through a bubble is often the most vulnerable get hurt, as we saw very clearly during the housing bubble and financial crisis of 2007 in the US. The same is most likely to be true for the Vancouver residents that extended themselves purchasing overpriced real estate that they could ill afford. The international speculators will move on as they continue their worldwide search for return. As in other locations, it is likely that they will not hang around long enough to see the real damage that remains once all the air has been taken out of the bubble.