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A weekly reality check on sensible investing and financial decision-making for Canadians. Hosted by Benjamin Felix and Cameron Passmore.

Apr 30, 2020

The economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic have been unprecedented and the seismic shifts have caused numerous unforeseen challenges. While no-one could have predicted the enormity and speed of the current crash before it happened, several signs indicated that an economic contraction was on the horizon. Today’s guest, Ben Rabidoux, President of North Cove Advisors, a boutique research firm, is here to share some macroeconomic trends and what they tell us about the state of the Canadian economy. His research expertise includes Canadian housing, macroeconomic trends, and household credit. We kick off the episode with some listener feedback as well as a listener question, where we discuss how to incorporate unvested stock options into your personal financial planning. There are several ways to go about this and numerous factors to consider, so it’s important account for them all. Ben then dives straight in, giving us an overview of the economic landscape before the sudden upheaval. He sheds some light on population growth and its relationship to economic growth. As a great deal of the economic gains was coming from non-resident growth, the crisis is likely to change this. We also talk about personal debt and HELOC loans. Coming into the recession, the household debt service ratio was incredibly high, with interest rates at an all-time low. Ben walks us through how these vulnerabilities might pan out and what could happen with HELOC debt. Along with this, we also discuss the relationship between housing and economic growth, with some truly astonishing data from Canada, the changes that are likely to happen with rental supply, and Ben’s take on some personal finance topics. This show was an incredible overview of some of the larger forces at play, and it went a long way to paint a clearer overall picture. Be sure to tune in today!


Key Points From This Episode:

  • Useful listener feedback and personal updates from Cameron and Benjamin. [0:01:50.0]
  • Data points about the increase in value of the top five S&P 500 stocks. [0:03:46.0]
  • A listener question about factoring company stock options into financial planning. [0:06:04.0]
  • Learn more about Ben, the work he does, his research focus, and his clients. [0:10:22.0]
  • Find out Ben’s take on active management vs index investing. [0:11:20.0]
  • The state of the Canadian economy prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. [0:12:05.0]
  • Canada’s recent explosive population growth and where that’s headed. [0:14:09.0]
  • Consumer and corporate debt-level, the source, and important takeaways. [0:16:13.0]
  • Why it’s difficult to draw parallels between the situation today and Japan in 1990. [0:03:43.2]
  • How different Canadian regions’ employment has responded to the crisis. [0:22:59.0]
  • Housing trends and the state of housing in Canada before coronavirus. [0:24:20]
  • The direct and indirect way that housing affects economic growth. [0:27:48.0]
  • Housing supply, construction activity, and rental market changes in Canada. [0:31:06.0]
  • What the data is saying about real estate prices across all market segments. [0:36:57.0]
  • Some of the economic shocks are temporary and will snap back quickly. [0:39:34.0]
  • The economic conditions in Canada’s previous housing downturns. [0:41:16.0]
  • Ben’s take on the Bank of Canada’s QE programme and how he thinks it’ll work. [0:44:07.0]
  • Renting vs buying: Why Ben thinks there’s no generic answer. [0:47:53.0]
  • Why landlords are often willing to charge rent that makes them a loss. [0:51:29.0]
  • Ben's advice for building resilience to economic shocks. [0:52:47.0]