Canada Triples Planned Purchases of Mortgage Securities

Erik Hertzberg

(Bloomberg) -- The Canadian government plans to triple the amount of mortgage debt it’s buying from banks in an effort to pump money into the economy.

Canada will purchase C$150 billion (C$137 billion) in insured mortgage backed securities from financial institutions, the agency said Thursday. That’s triple the initially planned C$50 billion, and represents about 80% of the value of government-guaranteed mortgage backed securities on bank balance sheets.

“It’s a substantial commitment,” Andrew Kelvin, senior Canada rates strategist at TD Securities, said in an email.

The increase in proposed acquisitions, which will take place via Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s newly created Insured Mortgage Purchase Program, highlights the speed at which Canadian authorities are upping the amount of liquidity they plan to inject into the country’s financial institutions, as markets struggle to keep adequate credit flowing through an economy slammed by the coronavirus.

Thursday’s announcement adds to a growing list of measures officials are taking to deal with the disruption to credit markets. That includes a purchase operation of C$24 billion in assets by the Bank of Canada on Thursday through term repos, double the amount a couple of days ago.

Last week the government also said it would allow lenders to add previously uninsured mortgages into into the pool of securities eligible to be bought by the government.

That widening of eligibility means the number of mortgage backed securities available will likely grow beyond the current C$186 billion figure.

CMHC also said Thursday it’s ready to expand the issuance of Canada Mortgage Bonds up to C$60 billion, a move that adds to the total amount of mortgage debt available for transactions in the system.

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