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Two takes on the housing market

Mark Blinch/Mark Blinch/REUTERS

Canadian new housing prices rose slightly (0.1 per cent) in August, according to Statistics Canada data released yesterday. Year over year, prices fell 3.1 per cent

The bullish view

All hail the return of the housing market! The Canadian market avoided the collapse felt in the United States, which is already climbing out of the doldrums. So optimists say ours has nowhere to go but up, and they are getting some statistical support.

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Statscan said yesterday that new houses increased in value in August - up 0.1 per cent after a nice 0.3-per-cent jump in July. And just last week, Toronto-Dominion Bank said seasonally adjusted sales had climbed 64 per cent higher as of August - better than before the recession.

The bearish view

The housing boom is not on, and here's why: The recession might be over, but U.S. unemployment is at a 26-year high. Canada's employment picture has been helped by public-sector hiring.

Meanwhile, the domestic housing market just can't seem to pull itself out of a deep funk, with Statistics Canada reporting year-over-year new home prices fell 3.1 per cent in August. Edmonton was hit particularly hard, with prices down 11.4 per cent. Other western cities were also hammered, as builders offered lower prices, bonuses and incentives to try to force sales on consumers. Steve Ladurantaye


The fallout from the fiasco known as non-bank asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) has hit an unlikely player: Quebec's very own financial regulator, the agency that's supposed to protect investors from exposure to toxic products like ABCP. The Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) recently revealed in its annual report it has written down to $16-million a $33-million ABCP portfolio. The bad investment was made through pension fund giant Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which plunged deeply into the ABCP market. The Caisse has the responsibility for managing the funds of several provincial agencies, including the surplus from the AMF's deposit insurance fund. "We're part of a long list of [Caisse]depositors who had part of their investments in ABCP. It's not unique to the AMF," spokesman Sylvain Théberge says.


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How can I get a look at my personal credit rating without having to pay one of the agencies for a report? Two agencies compile credit ratings on individual Canadians: TransUnion Canada in Hamilton and Equifax Canada in Montreal. Their sites encourage people to pay for instant rating information over the Internet. However, both are required to provide your credit report for free, if you apply by mail and wait for a mailed reply. You will have to search through the websites to find the information on the free service, but it is there. Along with a one-page form, which you can download, you will need to send in photocopies of two pieces of government-issued identification. You'll get your report by mail in a couple of weeks. The sites are and On the latter, click on the "credit education" button, then on the "free credit file" link.

What if I find mistakes in my credit record? If you contact the agencies and fill out their update forms, they will correct any inaccuracies in your credit reports.

Richard Blackwell


WASHINGTON - Treasury releases federal budget for September and fiscal year 2009, 2 p.m.

WASHINGTON - Federal Reserve releases minutes of Federal Open Market Committee meeting of Sept. 22-23.

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WASHINGTON - Commerce Department releases retail sales for September, 8:30 a.m.

WASHINGTON - Commerce Department releases business inventories for August, 10 a.m.

WASHINGTON - Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the economic and energy effects of climate change legislation.

WASHINGTON - Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on the banking industry, with witnesses including Sheila Bair, head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and John Dugan, comptroller of the currency.

WASHINGTON - Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on prohibiting price fixing and other anticompetitive conduct in the health insurance industry.

WASHINGTON - House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on bonuses paid out by American International Group Inc.

NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. - Abbott Laboratories releases third-quarter financial results.

NEW YORK - JPMorgan Chase & Co. releases third-quarter financial results. The Associated Press

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