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Timmins is a city in northeastern Ontario, Canada, on the Mattagami River. The city is the fourth-largest city in the Northeastern Ontario region with a population of 41,788 (2016). The city’s economy is based on natural resource extraction and is supported by industries related to lumbering and to the mining of gold, zinc, copper, nickel and silver. Timmins serves as a regional service and distribution centre. The city has a large Francophone community, with more than 50% bilingual in French and English.
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In finance, subprime lending (also referred to as near-prime, non-prime, and second-chance lending) means making loans to people who may have difficulty maintaining the repayment schedule, sometimes reflecting setbacks, such as unemployment, divorce, medical emergencies, etc.
Historically, subprime borrowers were defined as having a FICO or equifax scores below 600, although “this has varied over time and circumstances.” These loans are characterized by higher interest rates, poor quality collateral, and less favorable terms in order to compensate for higher credit risk. Many subprime loans were packaged into mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and ultimately defaulted, contributing to the financial crisis of 2007–2008.
Proponents of subprime lending maintain that the practice extends credit to people who would otherwise not have access to the credit market. Professor Harvey S. Rosen ofPrinceton University explained, “The main thing that innovations in the mortgage market have done over the past 30 years is to let in the excluded: the young, the discriminated-against, the people without a lot of money in the bank to use for a down payment.”
The term subprime refers to the credit quality of particular borrowers, who have weakened credit histories and a greater risk of loan default than prime borrowers. As people become economically active, records are created relating to their borrowing, earning and lending history. This is called a credit rating; although covered by privacy laws, the information is readily available to people with a need to know (in some countries, loan applications specifically allow the lender to access such records). Subprime borrowers have credit ratings that might include:
Canadian banks, trust companies and credit unions tend to have a broader relationship with their customers than just a mortgage, also offering credit cards, car loans and investments. They have a financial interest in ensuring that borrowers do not take on unmanageable debt, which reinforces their motivation to prudently underwrite mortgages.
The Canadian banking system is dominated by five or six large banks that together hold the majority of domestic banking assets. The large banks are in turn diversified geographically and across product lines, while the non-traditional, or shadow, banking system is relatively limited in scope compared with that of the U.S. Oversight is facilitated by a single authority (the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, or OSFI), which has responsibility for the prudential oversight of these federally incorporated institutions.
Communication with the banking community is thus reasonably straightforwar]. There is a strong focus on the quality of the banks’ risk-management practices. While this is often attributed to a traditionally conservative business culture in Canada, an important factor in Canada is the difficult lessons learned from previous banking problems. An example is the economic difficulties in the early 1990s, which included a significant housing downturn. Canadian banks therefore entered the recent period of financial stress with better risk-management practices, focused on limiting credit losses], than in previous episodes. This helped to limit their exposure to some potentially riskier sectors and products. For example, subprime mortgages, as they occurred in the U.S. market, remained a relatively limited phenomenon in Canada.