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From real estate to businesses, there are signs the pandemic is boosting wealth concentration
A strong surge in the price of Canada’s most desirable houses seems to fly in the face of an economy facing a record wave of bankruptcies and a sharp loss in jobs. But as we try to disentangle the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact, we may be observing a powerful economic force exacerbated by the promise of a long stretch of low-interest loans.
As CBC business columnist Don Pittis writes, what we are seeing is that while parts of the economy weaken, the weakness is not shared equally. A similar process applies to businesses and people who have maintained their incomes during the crisis, both able to profit from their short-term budgetary advantage.
While many smaller corporations and even more small businesses, such as corner stores and restaurants, go under, companies and individuals with a solid base and a strong cash flow can borrow at historically low rates — allowing them to stock up on assets they expect will keep their value once the crisis is over.
National figures on house prices from the Canadian Real Estate Association are out a week from today. But early speculation that property prices would fall has certainly not been borne out in Canada’s hottest markets. And that comes despite new figures on Friday that show 1.3 million Canadian jobs have disappeared since the pandemic struck.
Sales and prices for homes in Vancouver and Toronto are both up sharply. In Toronto, real estate board figures show detached home prices in July rose more than 25 per cent year over year — increases similar to the biggest boom years, from 2010 to the spring of 2017.
Mortgage brokers report that banks have tightened their requirements for who can get a loan, but for those eligible, five-year fixed mortgages can be two per cent or lower. And, of course, that’s the trouble with cheap money, especially at times when people are in danger of losing their jobs and businesses: It tends to go to those who need it the least — in other words, those most certain to pay it back. Read more on this story here.
(Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images)
A health-care worker behind a tarp collects a swab sample from a child at a makeshift free coronavirus testing booth in Hyderabad, India, today.
The small Manitoba town of Melita is in mourning after two teens were killed in a nearby tornado Friday night. Shayna Barnesky and Carter Tilbury, both 18, died after their pickup truck was swept up by the twister. RCMP say they were thrown out of the vehicle, which was found more than a kilometre away from where the tornado touched down near Virden, Man. Barnesky was part of Melita School’s 2020 graduating class just two months ago, while Tilbury graduated last year. She worked at a grocery store while he was employed at a local farm equipment dealership. All of that makes this tragedy even more heartbreaking, said Melita Mayor Bill Holden. “We’re a town of about a thousand people, and a good portion of the town here is related to the extended families of both victims. My heart goes out to everyone,” he said. Read more on this story here.
Watch | Tornado kills 2 Manitoba teenagers:
Régis Leblanc last saw his 86-year-old mother, Doréa Dee, on March 8 at her favourite spot, a café called l’Auberge du Marchand in Maria, Que. His sister, Évangéline Leblanc, had come home for a week-long visit. It would be her last before Dee died of COVID-19 on April 7. Along with thousands of families across Quebec, Dee’s four children are trying to make sense of their grief. They want to be together to honour her memory, but their brother Bertin lives in France and would need to quarantine for 14 days in Montreal before heading to Gaspé, which is too long a break from his work. The family held a virtual ceremony in June, where they shared stories and played some music. Leblanc said it helped, but he still feels like something is missing. “We were deprived of that moment of comfort with our family,” Régis Leblanc said. “We know Doréa left on April 7, but it’s like we’re suspended in time.” Read more on the family’s loss here.
Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been arrested over suspected collusion with foreign forces under the new national security law, his top aide said today on Twitter, in what is the highest-profile arrest yet under the legislation. Lai, who owns the popular tabloid Apple Daily, has been one of the most prominent democracy activists in the Chinese-controlled region and an ardent critic of Beijing, which imposed the sweeping new law on Hong Kong on June 30, drawing condemnation from Western countries. The new security law punishes anything China considers subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison. Read more about Lai’s arrest here.
Three Canadian hockey teams are through to the NHL playoff conference quarter-finals, which begin Tuesday. This comes after the Columbus Blue Jackets eliminated the Toronto Maple Leafs yesterday with a 3-0 victory to take their qualifying series in five games. The upcoming quarter-final round will see the Montreal Canadiens take on the Philadelphia Flyers, the Calgary Flames face the Dallas Stars, and the Vancouver Canucks play the St. Louis Blues. The eight teams eliminated from the league’s qualifying round — the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Winnipeg Jets and the Maple Leafs — are now in the mix to win the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft lottery when it resumes today at 6 p.m. ET. Read more from the latest NHL news here.
The best meteor shower of the year is upon us. Under optimal conditions — clear, moonless dark skies — at its peak, the Perseid meteor shower can produce up to 100 meteors an hour. The meteor shower runs from July 17 to Aug. 26, with the peak occurring this year on the night of Aug. 11–12. While last year’s shower was hampered by an almost full moon, the good news is that this year, the moon will only be 44 per cent illuminated and rise after midnight. Meteor showers are named after the constellation from which the meteors seem to originate, called the radiant. In this case, the radiant is in the constellation Perseus, hence the name. The constellation rises in the northern sky at about 9:30 p.m. local time and continues to rise in the northeast. But you don’t have to look exactly in that direction to see the meteors. You can simply look up. Read more about the meteor shower here.
Now for some good news to start your Monday: Kris Trotter knows that dogs can sometimes be the only reason that people get out of the house for a walk — or out of bed in the morning. “We know how important dogs are to us,” said the Saint John dog-lover. So what happens when a person is no longer physically able to take a dog for a walk or carry a bag of dog food up a flight of stairs? Trotter is determined to make sure the answer isn’t to give up the dog. She, along with a group of volunteers, has set up the Saint John chapter of ElderDog, a charitable organization dedicated to keeping dogs at home with their senior companions. The volunteers can pitch in with those things aging owners can no longer manage — walks, grooming, vet appointments, even picking up food. Their motto is help keep love in the home. Read more about ElderDog here.
Front Burner: Life under Melbourne’s stringent COVID-19 lockdown
The city of Melbourne, Australia, is currently under some of the world’s strictest pandemic lockdown measures. Residents have to be home by 8 p.m., and anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 can expect frequent, unannounced visits by police to ensure they’re staying home.
Today, on Front Burner, we speak to Melissa Davey, Australian bureau chief for The Guardian, to find out how a country — one that had so quickly flattened the curve early on in the pandemic — is now in the grips of a second wave of COVID-19.
Today in history: August 10
1876: Alexander Graham Bell makes the first long-distance call, from his residence in Brantford, Ont., to his assistant in Paris, Ont., 13 kilometres away. The call was preceded seven days earlier by the first telephone call from one building to another, between Bell and his uncle. The world’s first definitive tests of the telephone were one-way transmissions.
1921: Franklin Roosevelt is stricken with polio while vacationing at his summer home on Campobello Island, N.B. The man who later became one of America’s most memorable presidents was on holiday at his family cottage when he became feverish and his legs suddenly grew weak. He was 39 at the time.
1945: Japan announces its willingness to surrender and end the Second World War, provided Emperor Hirohito’s status remains unchanged.
1949: The first commercial jet aircraft to fly in North America makes its maiden flight over the Malton airport (now Pearson International) outside Toronto. The Avro Canada Jetliner was designed in Canada by Englishman James Floyd and built by Avro of Toronto. It was never produced commercially.