Stress testing the 'Big Short' call on the Canadian banks
The money manager made famous by the book The Big Short is taking aim at Canada’s banks, joining a number of other investors who are betting that a struggling economy and weakening housing market will cause a blow to the country’s lenders.
In an interview with The Financial Times, Steve Eisman, portfolio manager at Neuberger Berman, declined to name the banks he is shorting or the positions he has taken, but said that Canadian lenders are not “mentally prepared.”
“I’m calling for a simple normalization of credit that hasn’t happened in 20 years,” said Eisman, whose bets against the U.S. housing market before the 2008 financial crisis were chronicled in Michael Lewis’s 2010 book, which was later made into a film of the same name.
Canada’s economic outlook has also become increasingly uncertain in recent quarters. The economy nearly stalled at the end of 2018, growing just 0.4 per cent in the fourth quarter on an annualized basis.
Meanwhile, home sales across Canada have slumped, falling 9.1 per cent in February from the previous month, to the lowest level since 2012, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.
Eisman told the FT that while he expects that Canadian bank stocks and the real estate sector will be hurt, the damage will not be as deep as the U.S. financial crisis a decade ago.
“This is not ‘The Big Short: Canada’ — I’m not calling for a housing collapse,” Eisman said.
Eisman wasn’t immediately available for comment when reached by BNN Bloomberg.