A real estate sold sign hangs in front of a Canadian property Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

A real estate sold sign hangs in front of a Canadian property Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy

W-shaped recovery would be ‘very severe’ without government assistance: CMHC

The corporation says the COVID-19 pandemic could trigger nearly 50 per cent drop in housing prices

A W-shaped recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic could trigger a nearly 50 per cent drop in housing prices and a peak unemployment rate of 25 per cent, if the government doesn’t offer relief, says the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

A W-shaped recovery is when an economy begins to rebound from a recession quickly but then rapidly falls into another period of downturn before recovering again.

“That scenario is very severe and implausible in nature, but it’s very important to understand,” said CMHC’s chief risk officer Nadine LeBlanc in a Thursday media briefing.

The scenarios LeBlanc discussed are not meant to be predictions or forecasts tied to what CMHC sees headed for the country as it continues to grapple with COVID-19, but the agency runs the tests anyway to help with risk mitigation and offer transparency for Canadians.

It began the tests at the onset of the pandemic, giving them a more realistic feel, but in past years has studied its ability to cope with sustained low oil prices, a global trade war, earthquakes, major volcanic eruptions and cyberattacks on financial institutions.

Of all the scenarios CMHC looked at this year, the W-shaped recovery without government support is the most implausible, but likely to cause the severest impacts, LeBlanc said.

She predicted CMHC’s solvency and capitalization would likely be challenged in a W-shaped recovery where the government doesn’t step in to offer relief.

READ MORE: Annual pace of housing starts down in December: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp

CMHC found that a W-shaped recovery with government support would curtail the severity, be more manageable and only cause a roughly 32 per cent drop in home prices and a 24 per cent unemployment rate.

If the W-shaped recovery with government support was coupled with a severe cyberattack targeting the country’s whole financial industry, CMHC stress test results show a 37 per cent decrease in home prices and a 24 per cent unemployment rate would be likely.

In that scenario, cumulative insurance claim losses would reach $8.4 billion — roughly half the amount CMHC said the country would see in a W-shaped recovery with no government assistance.

CMHC also looked at a U-shaped recovery, where a recession gradually improves.

In that scenario, they found house prices would fall by almost 34 per cent, the peak unemployment rate would be nearly 15 per cent and cumulative insurance claim losses would reach $9.6 billion.

That scenario was the most plausible and would likely generate the most moderate impacts, LeBlanc said.

Many economists have been predicting Canada will see a K-shaped recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

It wasn’t on CMHC’s radar when it started looking at stress testing last March, but there is some interest in it, LeBlanc hinted.

“We’re obviously not out of this crisis and so CMHC continues right now running stress testing and one that’s looking very interesting to us is the K-shaped scenario.”

The Canadan Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Mortgage BrokersProperty taxesReal estate

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

(File Photo)
Crash causes delays on Coquihalla southbound, travel advisory issued

A vehicle incident between Merrit and Hope has caused major delays heading south

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Most Read