Canada's federal housing agency said on Wednesday it is well-capitalized and able to weather what it calls extreme scenarios including a wave of anti-globalization, a steep oil price fall and a housing correction like the one experienced in the United States about a decade ago.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, responsible for insuring the bulk of Canadian mortgages issued by banks and other big lenders, uses annual stress tests to gauge its resilience to extreme scenarios. It began publishing the results in 2015.
The 2017 stress test confirmed CMHC's mortgage loan insurance and securitization business had enough capital to withstand the impact of scenarios including an anti-globalization wave, earthquake, steep oil price fall and a sharp housing correction over a five-year period, it said.
Of the four scenarios examined, the CMHC said anti-globalization would take the greatest toll on housing prices, knocking the national average 31.5 per cent lower from peak to trough. That exceeded the firm’s estimate of a 30-per-cent drop in prices in the event of a U.S.-style housing meltdown, and a mere 0.2-per-cent drop if a catastrophic earthquake struck.
The 2017 stress test was the first in which the CMHC considered the impact of anti-globalization, after deeming global deflation a greater threat last year. While the agency expects it would wreak havoc on home prices and send unemployment as high as 15.3 per cent, the CMHC said it would not post a net loss in such a scenario over the next five years.
"We seek out extreme, almost unimaginable situations and ask ourselves 'what if?'," CMHC Chief Risk Officer Romy Bowers said. "In all cases, this year's stress testing shows we are well capitalized to handle these very severe situations."
Canadian authorities have taken a number of steps over the past 18 months to cool overheating housing markets in Vancouver and Toronto, including implementing taxes on foreign buyers.
Canada's banking regulator on Tuesday finalized tougher new rules on mortgage lending aimed at safeguarding lenders and borrowers, but warned the measures could push some borrowers into the arms of unregulated private lenders.
--With files from BNN