Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Alberta floods: black swan that kills the market?

Calgary, arguably Canada's centre of economic growth, is slowly drying out after a massive flood event that few were warning about even 24 hours before the Bow and Elbow Rivers started hammering the downtown core and surrounding neighbourhoods with flood waters unrivaled since the 1930s.

This most definitely could be an economic black swan that affects all corners of our great nation.

A black swan is defined as "an event that is a surprise (to the observer), has a major effect, and after the fact is often inappropriately rationalized with the benefit of hindsight."

Pundits are already suggesting that Canada's GDP reporting numbers will shift as a result. I've read stories suggesting that Calgary--not to mention Canmore, High River, Medicine Hat and communities in between--has roughly $5 billion worth of damage. These numbers will certainly climb as businesses feel the trickle down effect of once-disposable cash being pulled from the economy to be spent on things like foundations and drywall. The richest province in Canada most certainly will be borrowing money on the open market for the first time in a decade.

And the Calgary housing market will most definitely be affected.

Given the fact that Calgary's wealthiest neighbourhoods were some of the hardest hit, and Calgarian's penchant for holding second homes on Vancouver Island and the Okanogan, I suspect that these markets could suffer, at minimum, a minor ripple effect.

Exactly what happens elsewhere time will tell.


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