A new survey suggests Canadian bankers may be less concerned about mortgage credit risk than they were two years ago or, indeed, the government is now, given speculation it will again tinker with the country’s mortgage rules.
While credit risk topped the list of concerns for Canadian bankers participating in the 2010 Banking Banana Skins survey – produced by the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation in association with PwC – it fell to fifth place in this year’s polling.
More pressing concerns for Canadian respondents were macro-economic risk, liquidity and regulation, with the availability of capital also moving up ahead of any risk associated with their mortgage and consumer loan portfolios.
The survey results lend support to brokers and others who continue to challenge the need for additional tightening of mortgage rules.
The new survey suggests there are other risks to contend with, more specifically thoes from Europe.
"While Canada may be better prepared to handle some of these risks, the issues are intertwined with the global banking system," says John MacKinlay, national leader of the Financial Services Consulting practice for PwC in Canada. “Everyone is concerned about contagion from more troubled economies, particular in the U.S. and Europe.”
What bankers in this country are less concerned about is the ability of Canadians to manage their mortgage and other consumer debt. That’s even with the real possibility of recession and a resulting correction in housing prices, mostl likely in the condo market.
The survey results may help quiet concerns that the government is now preparing to introduce more changes to mortgage rules, including axing the 30-year amortization for default-insured mortgages.
Both mortgage and consumer credit debt spiked in the third quarter of last year, increasing to $1 trillion and $448 billion, respectively, according to a StatsCan. Those individual debt levels increased even as personal disposable income remained unchanged.
In December, top bankers were among the first to sound the alarm about those new national debt numbers, little more than a month before this recent survey suggesting bankers see little risk of a spike in defaults.