Between cannabis legalization, turmoil at alternative lender Home Capital, bitcoin, and housing, it was a busy year for BNN.ca.
Recreational marijuana became a hot discussion topic among investors since the federal government unveiled its plan to legalize it this past spring. Housing also continued to be a big story, particularly in Toronto, after the Ontario government implemented its 16-point housing plan back in April and Canada’s financial regulator announced new stress tests in an effort to reduce risk in the mortgage lending market. And bitcoin’s run became a global story.
We compiled a list of BNN.ca’s most-read articles for each month beginning in January 2017, which cover these topics and more. Here’s a quick recap of the stories you clicked on most:
By the end of 2017, Bitcoin’s volatility became a story everyone was talking about, and uncertainty surrounding the cryptocurrency piqued the interest of our readers. While bitcoin has surged 1,405 per cent this year, experts told BNN they were skeptical it would win the cryptocurrency race.
It was a hot year for Canadian cannabis stocks as the country began gearing up for legalization and investors wondered whether or not to enter the space. Barry Schwartz, chief investment officer and portfolio manager at Baskin Wealth Management, bluntly warned investors against investing in marijuana companies when he was on BNN in November. He said if you invest in these companies, “you’re going to lose all your money.” This was our most-read story of 2017.
In October, Canada's banking regulator published the final changes to its guidelines for residential mortgages. The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions’ new rules, which come into effect Jan. 1, now state that even homebuyers who have a down payment of 20 per cent or more -- and therefore don’t require mortgage insurance – will have to prove they can continue to make payments if interest rates rise.
The Toronto real estate industry had hoped for a comeback in September after a cooler summer for the housing market. But it never happened. After data from Zoocasa revealed September’s sale volumes plunged, Rob McLister, founder of RateSpy.com, had a warning for lenders in the Greater Toronto Area: “the worst is yet to come.”
OSFI announced in the summer it was taking aim at the uninsured mortgage market in an effort to reduce lending risk. But the industry was quick to sound the alarm over the potential fallout.
Following the Toronto Real Estate Board’s data dump for the month of June, one real estate analyst warned the housing bubble was bursting. John Pasalis, president at Realosophy Realty, told BNN “this is just the market unwinding and correcting itself.” But he said the data, which revealed a 37.3 per cent year-over-year drop in home sales in the Greater Toronto Area for the month, wasn’t the result of Ontario’s 16-point housing plan introduced in April.
Toronto’s real estate market was at a “turning point” in May, Pasalis said in this story that previewed May sales data (the first full-month read of the market following Ontario’s 16 new measures). The average home price in the Greater Toronto Area hit a record high of $920,791 in April, but signs were already emerging that market dynamics had shifted.
By announcing his plan to boost government revenue by selling half of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve back in May, U.S. President Donald Trump signaled an intention to actively work against Saudi Arabia’s goal of balancing the global crude oil market. As this story explains, that put Canada at risk of getting caught in the middle.
The ongoing turmoil at Home Capital was another big traffic driver in 2017. Shares of the alternative mortgage lender tanked after allegations surfaced on April 19 that Home Capital, along with three of its past and present executives, had misled shareholders about potential mortgage fraud at the company two years ago. This story details news of the embattled lender’s Home Trust division lining up a multi-billion-dollar line of credit amid a rapid outflow from its savings accounts. It was later revealed that billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway was the source of a $2-billion credit lifeline.
Stephen Jarislowsky, the billionaire investor and founder of Montreal-based Jarislowsky Fraser, issued a series of warnings on BNN regarding the future of Canada’s economy. He warned about the potential impact of Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s proposed capital gains taxes as well as fallout from what he saw as the overvaluation in the nation’s hottest housing market.
As housing prices continued to soar and months before the Ontario government’s unveiled its proposed policy interventions, BMO Chief Economist Doug Porter declared Toronto’s housing market was in a bubble.
Before U.S. President-elect Donald Trump officially took office, BMO Global Asset Management’s Chief Investment Officer of Asset Allocation Paul Taylor argued a weaker loonie could spell trouble for Canada. At the time, the Canadian dollar was trading above 75 cents for the first time in in more than a month and was rising. Taylor said the comfort zone for the dollar was closer to 70 cents US.