Once a year, usually in May, the FPB publishes a medium-term macrosectoral outlook. This outlook is based on the short-term forecast delivered in February for the budgetary review. The first two years of the outlook are essentially a forecast. In the medium term, the economic outlooks have to be considered as a projection allowing the mapping out of a “possible and realistic future” for the Belgian economy, and highlighting economic imbalances that are likely to persist over a period of five to six years.
The medium-term outlooks also analyse in detail the expected development of public finances, as well as that of the labour market and energy demand. They also describe possible evolutions of greenhouse gas emissions. A research project has been launched in cooperation with the Regions to develop regional projections that are consistent with the national outlooks (see the theme ‘Regional economy’).
Methods and tools
The projections are produced using the macrosectoral HERMES model. This model is the result of a research project that was launched by the European Commission in the 80’s and which was carried out by a team of modelling specialists from six European Member States. The current Belgian version of the model contains more than 6 000 equations and about 7 000 variables. The relatively large size of the model can be explained by the degree to which the economy is broken down (16 branches of industry and 15 consumption functions) and of the development of a detailed public finance module. For a detailed presentation of the model, see Working Papers 5-00 and 5-04.
In addition to this, various databases (notably those for the national accounts) and practically all the other models of the FPB contribute either to the construction of the HERMES model or to the preparation of the projection.
A full description of the outcome of the medium-term economic outlooks is given in an annual publication, published in May. More specific studies focusing on various aspects of the outlooks (labour market, public finance, energy and emissions, etc.) are published regularly.
The annual outlook publication contains an appendix of statistics taken from all the macroeconomic and sectoral results of the projection. The outcomes are also presented in a downloadable Excel file (see ‘Databases – Economic outlooks’).