Stress testing Eisman's short call on the Canadian banks
Canada’s finance minister isn’t buying into the short calls against the country’s biggest lenders.
“The underlying thesis, I don’t buy into, because from our perspective, we see the Canadian banks are very well capitalized,” Morneau told reporters in Washington, D.C. Thursday. “We see that loan losses, credit risk is being managed very effectively.”
“We have a sense that the core risk that we’ve wanted to deal with, which is high household debt, that we’re dealing with through the housing system in a way that’s managing that situation. So my view is that the broader economy is doing well, that our banking system is doing well.”
Morneau’s comments come in the wake of a new wave of short calls against Canada’s biggest banks. Last month, Veritas Investment Research analyst Nigel D'Souza told BNN Bloomberg the banks could fall 20 per cent this year after he came out with sell recommendations on the Big Six.
Canadian bank bear Bradley Safalow said he could see the lenders falling 40 to 50 per cent. Safalow, whose firm PAA Research LLC advises investors to short companies including CIBC and RBC, also personally holds short positions in some of Canada’s banks.
“Short-term, I don’t see any risk to the dividends. I think if we see a reset in terms of the magnitude of earnings power I’m talking about and the capital ratios start to decline … these stocks could trade around similar to what their U.S. brethren do,” Safalow told BNN Bloomberg.
On Tuesday, Steve Eisman, the money manager known for betting against the U.S. housing market and made famous through The Big Short, laid out his thesis for betting against Royal Bank of Canada, Laurentian Bank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce during an interview with BNN Bloomberg.
Some Canadian analysts and money managers have been taking aim at Eisman’s short thesis.
“I just don’t think there’s any real catalyst to cause this to be a massive short. I think the Canadian banks could underperform because there’s no growth there,” Greg Taylor, chief investment officer, Purpose Investments told BNN Bloomberg in an interview Wednesday.
National Bank Financial analyst Gabriel Dechaine said in a note to clients Wednesday the thesis talking points range from “unreasonable to nonsensical.”