This working paper provides an update of a study from 2007 in which the accuracy of the medium-term outlooks for the Belgian economy is assessed. The study is expanded with nine additional editions of the Economic Outlook covering a mixture of pre-crisis, crisis and post-crisis periods.
In the framework of the Act of 28 February 2014 on the National Accounts Institute the Scientific Committee for the economic budget has taken note of this study and has issued an opinion on it.
Working Paper 13-17 [30/09/2017]
The Federal Planning Bureau is responsible, within the National Accounts Institute, for producing the macroeconomic forecasts that are used to set up the federal government budget. This working paper presents an update of the ex post assessment of the quality of these forecasts. Compared to the previous working paper devoted to this topic, the sample has been extended by six additional years and the number of evaluated variables has been increased, in particular with series at current prices. Moreover, this paper also examines to what extent the observed forecast errors are due to errors made on exogenous assumptions related to the international environment.
Working Paper 12-17 [29/09/2017]
In the framework of the publication of its Economic Outlook for Belgium, the Federal Planning Bureau has estimated the potential growth and the output gap since 2003. This report presents a retrospective analysis of the properties of the short-term and long-term revisions of the potential growth and the output gap. A comparison with the results based on the EC estimations is also provided. This work falls within the legal tasks of the Institute of National Accounts in the field of forecast assessment.
The uncertainty surrounding the estimates of potential output has risen in the euro area countries since the outbreak of the financial crisis. Moreover, potential growth in the euro area has fallen since 2009. In this working paper we examine both phenomena for Belgium based on potential GDP estimates produced by the Federal Planning Bureau. We also analyse the evolution of the three main underlying determinants of potential growth, namely the contribution of labour, capital and total factor productivity.
Working Paper 04-15 [23/06/2015]
- Economic outlook 2015-2020 [12/05/2015]
- Economic outlook 2015-2020 0 [19/03/2015]
This working paper describes the new version of MODTRIM II, the FPB’s quarterly macroeconomic model for short-term forecasting. The short-term forecasts are published three times a year and are referred to as the “economic budget”, as they are used by the federal government to set up its budget and to perform budgetary control exercises. The objective of this working paper is not to provide a complete description of the model, but to focus on the specification and estimation results of the behavioural equations.
Working Paper 05-14 [25/06/2014]
- OPREP201402 [26/03/2014]
This Working Paper is aimed at describing the current version of Federal Planning Bureau’s medium-term macrosectoral model, named HERMES. This model is used to produce on a regular basis medium-term outlooks for the Belgian economy. In addition to the main macroeconomic aggregates (GDP, private consumption, external trade, investments,…), those outlooks also concern labour market aggregates, detailed public finances, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The HERMES model is also used to compute the impact of policy measures and external shocks on the Belgian economy.
Working Paper 13-13 [08/11/2013]
The new economic outlook for Belgium for the period 2012-2017 is based on a context of budget consolidation and weak economic growth for Europe. After a year 2012 marked by a mild recession, the euro area should gradually recover the path of growth. However, this growth would be modest and mixed according to country. The main risk factor for these growth forecasts lies in the sovereign debt crisis and the evolution of the financial sector in the euro area.
Despite this unfavourable context, the Belgium economy should avoid a recession in 2012 and register GDP growth equal to 1.4% in 2013. From 2014 onwards, Belgian economic growth should become more dynamic, without exceeding 2%. Export growth should amount to 3.7% on average on an annual basis over the period 2014-2017, which means that the loss of market share should persist (1.3 percentage points per year). Over the same period, domestic demand should have an annual growth rate of 1.6%, causing GDP to increase by 1.9% on average per year.
Belgian inflation should exceed largely 2% in 2012, owing to a new rise in energy prices, the depreciation of the euro against the dollar, and increases in indirect taxes, but should fall below 2% in 2013, notably thanks to lower oil prices. In the context of a moderate rise in international energy prices, Belgian inflation should stabilize at 1.8% on average during the period 2014-2017.
Total domestic employment should increase by 8 000 units this year and by 14 000 units next year. From 2014 onwards, total employment is expected to increase by 188 000 jobs over the period 2014-2017. The number of unemployed persons (broad administrative concept) should rise between 2012 and 2014 (+ 64 000 units). Over the following years, employment should grow more strongly, while the labour force continues to expand, partially due to the pension reform. As a result, the decrease in unemployment should remain limited to 33 000 units during the period 2015-2017. Finally, as measured by the Eurostat definition, which allows for international comparisons, the unemployment rate should amount to 7.3% in 2013, compared to 7.2% in 2011.
Driven by the federal government's consolidation measures and the federate bodies' ongoing budgetary consolidation, the general government's deficit should shrink to 2.6% of GDP this year (compared to 3.7% in 2011) and thus meet the objective of the Stability Programme. Without additional measures, the general government's deficit should again increase to 2.8% of GDP in 2013. In the medium term, the deficit should shrink slightly to attain 2.5% of GDP in 2017. To reach a balanced budget in 2015 (as planned by the Stability Programme), additional measures amounting to EUR 11 billion are thus necessary.
STU 2-12 was finalised on 1 June 2012.
Short Term Update 02-12 [Contributor - 01/06/2012]
- Economic outlook 2012-2017 [14/05/2012]
The Federal Planning Bureau has a long tradition in providing long-term projections focused on the evolution of social expenditure within an overall framework of public finance, using the MALTESE system of models. This outlook is based on different scenarios: demographic, socio-economic, macroeconomic and welfare adjustment. The purpose of this publication is to describe the methodology for the construction of the socio-economic and macroeconomic scenarios and to illustrate it by presenting the main results from the 2011 projection for the Annual Report of the Study Group on Ageing.
Working Paper 05-12 [06/03/2012]
The Federal Planning Bureau is responsible, within the National Accounts Institute, for producing the macroeconomic forecasts that are used to set up the federal government budget. This working paper presents an update of the ex post assessment of the quality of these forecasts. Compared to the previous working papers devoted to this topic, the analysis is extended in several ways. Firstly, the number of variables examined is markedly increased, as is the number of statistical tests. Secondly, an evaluation of the quality of the quarterly forecasts is presented for the first time. In addition, this information is used to calculate the probability distribution of these forecasts and to construct a so‐called “fan chart”.
Working Paper 03-12 [23/02/2012]
The new Economic outlook for Belgium for the period 2011-2016 is based on a context that is characterised by a stronger-than-expected recovery of the world economy, spurred on in particular by the Asian emerging economies and the US economy. Three main risks could undermine this international scenario: the budgetary position of several countries and the financial risks that this may entail; the volatility of commodity prices; and the overheating of several emerging economies.
Belgian GDP growth should amount to 2.2% in 2011 and in 2012, affirming its outperformance compared to the euro area since the start of the crisis. This growth rate should persist in the medium term. In 2011 and 2012, domestic demand growth should accelerate, backed by private consumption and business investment. Public investment should be highly dynamic in the run-up to the local elections of 2012. After an impressive increase in 2010, exports are expected to increase at a slower pace in 2011 and 2012 due to the deceleration in world trade growth. From 2013 onwards, growth in domestic demand and exports should remain close to historical average rates.
Belgian inflation should accelerate considerably in 2011 (3.5%), mainly due to a steep increase in raw material prices. Without new shocks on commodity prices, inflation should stabilise around 2% in the medium term.
Belgian employment coped remarkably well with the crisis. The rise in employment in the enterprise sector in 2010 (+27 000 persons) had already compensated for the decline in 2009. This performance seems to be related mainly to the so-called temporary unemployment system and the further increase in the number of people working in the government-subsidised voucher programme for domestic-type services. From 2011 onwards, employment in the enterprise sector should increase by roughly 46 000 persons per year. The number of unemployed should decline by 8 000 units in 2011 and by 3 000 units in 2012, followed by a strengthening in the annual decline in unemployment of up to 16 000 persons in 2016. The unemployment rate (broad administrative definition) should fall from 12.6% of the labour force in 2010 to 11% at the end of the projection period.
The general government deficit amounted to 4.1% of GDP in 2010 and should shrink to 3.8% of GDP in 2011, taking into account the budget information up to mid-April. Under a constant policy assumption, the public deficit should increase significantly in 2012 (4.4% of GDP) and decline gradually from 2013 onwards to reach 3.6% of GDP in 2016. The deficit reduction path, which aims to achieve a balanced budget in 2015, requires structural consolidation measures amounting to 17 billion euro.
STU 2-11 was finalised on 1 June 2011.
Short Term Update 02-11 [Contributor - 21/06/2011]
A consensus quickly emerged among national and international organizations, based on past experiences, that the financial crisis that erupted in 2008 would have a long-lasting impact on the level of output. An initial quantification of the potential output loss imputable to the crisis for Belgium was presented in WP 10-09. This Working Paper provides an update of this analysis and examines through the successive revisions of projections made by the Federal Planning Bureau how the perception of the crisis has evolved over the last two years and what its implications are for the medium run. The shortfall in potential output is now estimated to be less than 3 %, close to the area-wide loss estimated for the OECD-countries.
Working Paper 08-11 [21/06/2011]
- Economic outlook 2011-2016 [12/05/2011]
The Federal Planning Bureau took part, in collaboration with the German institute diw Berlin, in a technical assistance project aimed at developing different modelling approaches for the economy of Lesotho, a small country landlocked within the territory of South Africa. This paper summarises the major characteristics of the macro-econometric model that was elaborated in the context of this project. The modelling strategy relies on its complementarities and interactions with the so-called ‘Financial Programming’, implemented by other partners of the project team. In addition, the paper presents a baseline up to the fiscal year 2012/2013 as well as an alternative scenario in which public expenditures are reduced in response to the expected decrease in customs receipts.
Working Paper 17-10 [20/10/2010]
- Economic outlook 2010-2015 [19/05/2010]
In view of the new round of stability and convergence programmes (SCP) by the EMU member states, the FPB transmitted a medium-term outlook for the Belgian economy to the federal government. In this outlook, the short-term international assumptions are based on the November forecasts of the EC. These assumptions result in a gradual recovery of Belgian GDP in 2010 (0.8%) and 2011 (1.6%), after a decline of 3.1% in 2009. More information on this simulation can be found on pages 5-6.
As world trade appears to recover at a faster pace than expected in the EC outlook, the FPB produced a technical update of the SCP-simulation. This second simulation results in relatively stronger Belgian economic growth in 2010 and 2011 (1.1% and 1.7% respectively). From 2012 to 2014 economic growth is expected to be 2.1% on average, which might not be sufficient to close the output gap by 2014. Comments in the next paragraphs are based on this exercise.
Private demand was heavily affected by the financial and economic crisis. Private consumption suffered from a lack of confidence which brought an important increase along in the savings rate in 2009. In the medium term, consumption growth should gradually recover but remain below 2%. Gross fixed capital formation plummeted in 2009 and is unlikely to recover soon as idle production capacity is still abundant. From 2011 to 2014, average investment growth should amount to 2.1%. Exports declined by more than 10% in 2009, but should recover from 2010 onwards and reach an average growth rate of 4.4% from 2011 to 2014.
As employment typically reacts with a lag to the business cycle, the decrease in employment should even be stronger in 2010 than in 2009, before increasing gradually from 2011 onwards. The (broad administrative) unemployment rate should increase by 2.5 percentage points in 3 years and reach 14.3% in 2011. From 2012 onwards the unemployment rate should diminish somewhat, but total administrative unemployment should still amount to more than 730 000 persons in 2014 (130 000 persons more than in 2008).
Due to the recession the public deficit increased to 5.8% of GDP in 2009. Under an unchanged policy assumption the net public financing requirement should decline by 0.6% of GDP in 2010 and roughly stabilise somewhat below 5.5% in the medium term.
STU 04-09 was finalised on 21 December 2009.Short Term Update 04-09 [Contributor - 21/12/2009]
The concepts of potential growth and output gap are important tools to evaluate the state of the business cycle and to assess the supply-side capacity of an economy. They have also become an essential ingredient of the European fiscal surveillance process. However, the global economy is facing its most widespread crisis in the post-war era and consequently the uncertainty regarding the impact of the crisis on supply-side conditions is enormous. In this Working Paper we compare revisions on potential growth for Belgium made recently by the Federal Planning Bureau and international organizations. Those comparisons aim at highlighting the uncertainty associated with those revisions as well as understanding better some of the channels through which the crisis may reduce potential output.Working Paper 10-09 [22/09/2009]
- Economic outlook 2009-2014 [20/05/2009]
Several legal missions from the Federal Planning Bureau require the construction of long-term macroeconomic scenarios for the Belgian economy. In order to increase the consistency of these scenarios and to build them within a rigorous theoretical framework, it appeared important to develop a new long-term model that considers economic growth as depending upon the supply of production factors.
The theoretical structure of the model draws on similar work done by the Dutch CPB. In the working paper we detail the construction, the properties and the estimation of the parameters based upon quarterly data from the Belgian national accounts. The model should contribute for instance to the production of long-term macro-economic scenarios to evaluate the budgetary cost of ageing.Working Paper 03-09 [08/04/2009]
- Economic outlook 2008-2013 [21/05/2008]
Every three years, each EU member state is required to set out its political priorities related to economic growth and job creation in a so-called National Reform Programme ( NRP ). Gauged by the latest medium-term economic outlook produced by the Federal Planning Bureau, compliance with the main macroeconomic objectives contained in the Belgian NRP will still require sizable efforts, especially regarding the labour market. Furthermore, our analysis shows that reducing social security contributions in order to lower the tax wedge on labour as foreseen in the NRP , is efficient in increasing the employment rate, especially when targeted at low wage earners, but also that such policies have a negative effect on the objectives related to public finances and CO 2 emissions.
Working Paper 11-07 [25/09/2007]
The Federal Planning Bureau has been publishing medium-term macroeconomic projections for the Belgian economy since the beginning of the eighties. In this working paper past projection errors are scrutinised to give users a broad idea of the uncertainties surrounding these projections. The analysis reveals that projections for most of the macro-economic variables show no statistically significant bias with the notable exception of the evolution of exports and labour productivity which was clearly overestimated, while labour force growth was systematically underestimated. Examination of the role played by the main exogenous variables shows the importance of potential export markets in explaining projection errors on GDP and components. However, losses in export market shares were underestimated in most economic outlooks. Concerning the labour force, the origin of the projection error changed over time: attributable almost exclusively to errors in the average participation rate at the beginning of the sample, from 1997 onwards the relative contribution of errors on working-age population increased gradually.Working paper 08-07 [05/06/2007]
- Economic outlook 2007-2012 [11/05/2007]
In the course of 2006, quarterly economic growth in Belgium slowed down in line with the international business cycle from 0.9% in the first quarter to 0.6% in the last quarter. This year, qoq GDP growth should stabilise around 0.5%. On a yearly basis, economic growth should slow down from 3% in 2006 to 2.2% in 2007.
In 2006, economic growth was only supported by domestic demand while net exports contributed negatively to it. In 2007, however, both domestic demand and net exports should support GDP growth. Despite the deceleration in quarterly Belgian export growth due to the slowdown of the euro area and the US economy, annual average export growth should rise to 6.5% in 2007 as it benefits from a considerable carry-over from 2006. After several years of decrease, the current account surplus should rise by 0.4% of GDP in 2007, mainly as a result of the decline in oil prices leading to an improvement in the terms of trade. Domestic demand growth should weaken this year, which is essentially due to the evolution of private consumption and public investment. Private consumption growth should be less buoyant than in 2006 as the personal income tax reform then gave its final boost to real disposable income. Public investment rose markedly last year in view of the local elections in October 2006, but should fall by the same extent in 2007.
After a net gain of about 44,000 persons in 2006, employment is expected to record an average annual rise of 45,600 persons this year. As the number of jobs grows faster than the labour force, the broad administrative unemployment rate is expected to decline from 13.9% in 2006 to 13.5% in 2007. The harmonised Eurostat unemployment rate (based on labour force surveys) should fall from 8.3% in 2006 to 7.9% next year.
This year, the increase in the national index of consumer prices (NICP) should amount to 1.8%, just as in 2006. It should be noted that the inflation picture in 2006 was blurred by the introduction of a new NICP-basket. The rise of the private consumption deflator, which is not affected by this factor, should decline from 2.3% in 2006 to 1.8% in 2007, mainly due to the decrease in oil prices.Short Term Update 01-07 [Contributor - 06/03/2007]
This paper describes the operating mode of the two existing Belgian fiscal councils as well as their role in the budgetary planning process. These institutions, created or reformed in depth in a context of large public deficits and increasing public debt-to-GDP ratios coupled with the regionalization of the Belgian state, are the result of a maturing process. The National Accounts Institute covers the positive side of the budgetary process, while the High Council of Finance deals with the normative side. Concerning the former domain, the creation of an independent institution to provide unbiased forecasts undeniably contributed to the consolidation of public finances in Belgium. In the context of the revised Stability and Growth Pact, lessons drawn from the Belgian experience can certainly be useful for other Member States willing to improve their fiscal institutional settings. Our chief recommendations for making the budgetary process successful are: institutions dealing with positive economics should enjoy a fully independent status but remain public; positive and normative issues should be completely separated from an institutional point of view; and responsibility should be shared between several strong independent institutions so as to minimize political pressure.Working paper 04-06 [15/06/2006]
- Economic outlook 2006-2011 [19/05/2006]
- HEADLINES BELGIAN ECONOMY - MARCH 2006
In the wake of the economic recovery in Europe, Belgian GDP growth rose gradually from 0.1% in the first quarter to 0.6% in the last quarter of 2005. Quarterly growth should stabilise at 0.6% during the first half of 2006 and remain higher than 0.5% during the second half of the year. On a yearly basis, GDP growth should strengthen from 1.5% last year to 2.2% in 2006.
This year, net exports as well as domestic demand should contribute positively to economic growth. Due to the European recovery, Belgian export growth will strengthen to 4.7%. The current account surplus, however, will increase very little as a result of the high oil prices, which will lead to a negative evolution in the terms of trade. Domestic demand will grow at a slower pace as business investment will weaken somewhat after a significant catch-up and some exceptional purchases in 2005. This slow-down will be partially compensated for by stronger public expenditure – in consumption and investment – as well as stronger private consumption. Consumer expenditure should accelerate to 1.6% as household disposable income is underpinned by employment growth and personal income tax cuts.
After a net gain of 38,600 persons last year, employment is expected to record an average annual rise of 41,100 persons in 2006. The number of jobs is growing faster than the labour force, which should slightly reduce the unemployment rate (broad administrative statistics) from 14.3% last year to 14.1% in 2006. The ‘harmonised’ unemployment rate (Eurostat definition) should decline from 8.4% last year to 8.3% in 2006.
Inflation should fall markedly in 2006 compared to 2005 due to a limited rise in unit wage costs and the fading of the effects of higher oil prices. The inflation picture is somewhat blurred by the persistent deterioration in the terms of trade and by the introduction of a new price index. The private consump-tion deflator should increase by 2.3%, the GDP deflator by 1.9% and the national index of consumer prices by 1.8%.Short Term Update 01-06 [Contributor - 27/03/2006]
- Economic outlook 2005-2010 [26/05/2005]
In 2004, economic growth in Belgium amounted to 2.7% (GDP at constant prices), which is higher than the euro area average due to the strength of Belgian domestic demand. The economic recovery, triggered by an improvement in the international business climate from mid-2003 onwards, resulted in quarter-on-quarter growth rates between 0.7% and 0.8%, but weakened to 0.4% in the last quarter of 2004.
Economic growth should gain momentum during the course of this year, which is mainly due to the quarterly profile of exports. In fact, export growth should temporarily weaken during the first half of this year due to lower foreign demand growth and the appreciation of the euro during the last two quarters of 2004, which hampers competitiveness with respect to the other currency areas. Private con-sumption (+1.8%) should increase at a faster pace than purchasing power (+1.4%) for the third con-secutive year. Stimulated by the ongoing recovery of business profitability, low interest rates and gradually improving demand prospects, real business investment growth should strengthen to 3.3% this year. All in all, GDP growth at constant prices should reach 2.2% in 2005. Inflation should re-main rather stable at 2.0%.
Employment should increase by 34,400 units this year, as compared to 28,600 in 2004. As the labour force should increase at about the same pace in 2005, the unemployment rate should stabilise this year. The employment rate should rise slightly from 61.8% in 2004 to 62.1% in 2005.Short Term Update 01-05 [Contributor - 25/03/2005]
- Planning Paper 97 [10/03/2005]
- Euren Winter report [20/12/2004]
- Euren Summer Report [28/06/2004]
- Working Paper 14-04 [01/06/2004]
- Economic outlook 2004-2009 [17/05/2004]
- Euren Autumn Report [17/12/2003]
- Working Paper 17-03 [30/10/2003]
- Euren Summer Report [01/07/2003]
Economic activity remained subdued in the euro area in the last quarter of 2002 and early estimates point to a stabilisation in the first quarter of the current year. International organizations are forecasting a gradual but only modest recovery in the course of 2003. In Belgium, GDP growth was higher than in the main neighbouring countries in the last quarter of 2002. This should also be the case in the first quarter of 2003. The FPB leading indicator for Belgium confirms the scenario of a recovery during the course of 2003. Annual GDP growth should nevertheless be only slightly above 1% this year.
Various risks could jeopardise the recovery in the euro zone: the continuing depreciation of the USD, and a slower recovery of confidence due to the situation in the labour market and/or the stock market. The medium-term outlook for Belgium is pointing towards a GDP growth rate of 2.4% during the 2004-08 period, which is slightly higher than potential (2.1%).This favourable development is due to both net exports and domestic demand. Private consumption should become more dynamic during the 2004-2008 period, particularly thanks to the increase in households’ disposable income (especially due to tax reform). Investment growth should attain 3% during the 2004-08 period, mainly reflecting the increase in business investment. Average export growth should be 5.3% during the same period and the contribution of net exports to GDP growth should be 0.3%. Thanks to limited wage and import cost increases and a negative output gap in the first years of the projection, the inflation rate will remain below 2% in the medium term.
The development of employment should reflect the favourable macroeconomic context, the limited increases in wage costs and various policy measures. After stagnating in 2003, about 32,000 jobs should be created every year during the 2004-2008 period (as compared with 43,000 jobs created on average during 1996-2002). Industrial employment should fall by 38,000 persons during the 2003-2008 period and the number of jobs created in market services should exceed 200,000. The unemployment rate (including long term unemployment of older workers) is still increasing in 2003 (from 13.3% to 14.0%), but will subsequently fall to 12.9% in 2008. The proportion of active job seekers within broad unemployment will increase, due to recent policy measures aimed at limiting early retirement.
The public accounts are expected to show a clear deterioration, with a net public administrations borrowing requirement appearing in 2003. Equilibrium is not expected to be reached until the end of the period covered by the forecast.Short Term Update 02-03 [Contributor - 15/06/2003]
- Economic outlook 2003-2008 [26/05/2003]
Since 1994 the Federal Planning Bureau has been using the annual version of the econometric model modtrim as a central tool to produce its short-term macroeconomic forecasts. At the origin of the project, and as its name indicates, this annual version was meant to be short-lived and quickly replaced by a quarterly version. Unfortunately, the lack of quarterly national accounts prevented from doing so for several years. In 1998, the Institute for National Accounts published official quarterly accounts for the first time and the construction of the quarterly version of the model started in Spring 2000. On that occasion, the opportunity was taken to reassess all behavioural equations of the model. The more limited availability of quarterly data, in comparison with annual data, implied that a more aggregated version of the accounting framework of the yearly model had to be constructed.Working Paper 06-03 [20/05/2003]
- Euren Autumn Report [18/12/2002]
- In October, the FPB updated its medium-term outlook for Belgium until 2007. This projection is pointing towards a GDP growth of 2.5% on average from 2003 to 2007. This development can be largely accounted for by domestic demand, whereas the role of (net) exports is expected to be more limited. Private consumption should be more dynamic during the forecasting period than during the nineties thanks to a favourable development in households’ disposable income (stimulated especially by reductions in personal income tax). The growth in gross fixed capital formation should attain an average of 2.9% during the period 2003-2007, notably reflecting the expansion in business investment. Export growth should be 5.1% on average: the structural loss in export market share should be confirmed and the contribution of net exports to GDP growth is expected to decline.
The inflation rate should be below 2% in the medium term. Assuming no shocks on commodity prices, the main domestic factors behind this moderate inflation are wage increases compatible with productivity gains, cuts in social security contributions and the extension of production capacity.
Employment should show a gradual improvement: an increase of 33,000 jobs on average should be observed during the 2003-2007 period (as compared with an increase of 40,000 jobs, on average, during the 1996-2000 period). However, a large proportion of the labour expansion should be absorbed by an increase in the labour force. Therefore, the unemployment rate in a broad sense should only decrease from 13.5% by mid-2002 to 13.2% in 2007.
Assuming no policy change but taking into account (as far as possible) the measures decided within the framework of the 2003 budget, the financing capacity of public administrations should be close to balance between 2003 and 2006 and a small surplus would be observed in 2007. Taking into account the computed output gap and the resulting cyclical budget component, the structural (cyclically adjusted) balance would be positive but slightly declining from 2002 onwards.
The objective of a positive financing capacity (0.5% of GDP in 2005 as mentioned in the new Stability Program for Belgium) is not expected to be reached without additional budgetary measures. However, the total public debt to GDP ratio should continue its decline, but at a slower pace if compared with the 2001 forecast. The decrease should represent about 21% of GDP between 2001 and 2007.Short Term Update 04-02 [Contributor - 29/11/2002]
- AIECE General Report [18/11/2002]
- Economic Forecasts 2003 [04/09/2002]
- Economic outlook 2002-2007 [06/06/2002]
- Economic Forecasts 2002 C [15/03/2002]
After an exceptional year in 2000, world trade growth deteriorated sharply in 2001. The collapse of world trade can be explained by the synchronized slackening of the three main economic powers (United States, Japan, and the European Union). The attacks of 11 September and their economic and political impact have, of course, amplified the downturn. The end of destocking and the hesitant recovery, which, according to certain indicators, may be starting in the United States during the first semester of this year, should allow world trade to regain positive growth rates, although a stronger recovery should not be expected before the second half of 2002.
The Belgian economy was severely affected by the slowdown in world trade. On annual average, GDP should have grown by about 1.0% in 2001. In 2002 GDP should record an almost identical average annual increase, i.e. 0.9%. The composition and dynamics should, however, be quite different. After a first quarter marked by the impact of the bankruptcy of SABENA, real GDP should grow at positive qoq rates in a range between 0.5 and 1%. The economic upturn should only have a positive impact on employment by the end of the year. This year, consumer price inflation should fall below 2%. It seems that lower imported inflation is finally beginning to be passed on to the underlying inflation.
Our forecast is counting on a gradual recovery in world trade, which should regain its full dynamics by the end of the year. We assume that the positive impact on economic recovery will mainly be observed in 2003. A strong recovery earlier this year would of course have a positive impact on growth in Europe and in Belgium as long as it does not give rise to an increase in oil prices.Short Term Update 01-02 [Contributor - 22/02/2002]
- Economic Forecasts 2002 [15/07/2001]
- Economic Outlook 2001-2006 [15/05/2001]
- Economic Forecasts 2001 C [15/03/2001]
- Economic Forecasts 2001 [15/07/2000]
- Economic Outlook 2000-2005 [15/05/2000]
- Economic Forecasts 2000 C [15/03/2000]
- Economic Forecasts 2000 [15/07/1999]
- Working Paper 02-99 [15/06/1999]
Sustained economic growth in Belgium in 1998 was supported by rapidly growing private consumption and investment. In contrast, the contribution of trade to real economic growth was negative in 1998. Nevertheless, a strong increase in terms of trade, due to the low prices of raw materials, allowed trade still to make a positive contribution towards growth in nominal terms.
Export performance remains the key question for 1999: the deterioration of our export markets led to negative growth in Belgian exports in 1998Q4 (t/t-4) and the timing and strength of a recovery remain uncertain. International organisations are forecasting a clear upturn in world trade in mid-1999. On the basis of this scenario, the FPB is forecasting economic growth in Belgium of 2% in 1999.
So far, however, leading indicators suggest that the upturn in exports in 1999 could be weaker than expected. The Balkan crisis is also having a negative impact on growth prospects. On the other hand, the recent fall in interest and exchange rates in the euro area does improve prospects for 1999.
Domestic demand is not expected to be as buoyant as in 1998, and it should continue to drive growth in 1999. With a 1% increase in employment, consumer confidence will remain high: private consumption growth should be around 2%. Inflation remains at around 1%. The general government borrowing requirement should be less than 1% of GDP, due to the low level of interest rates.
The medium-term outlook for Belgium points to an average growth rate of GDP of 2.5% per year during the 2000-2004 period in an “unchanged policy” scenario. Gross nominal wages are expected to be broadly in line with nominal labour costs in the neighbouring countries. Planned cuts in non-wage costs should therefore lead to enhanced competitiveness. Nonetheless, the slightly accelerated pace of inflation in Europe should cause domestic inflation to rise to 1.6%. The average rate of growth of employment, strongly supported by active labour market policy measures, is estimated at around 0.9% per year in average, leading to a drop in unemployment.
Based on this scenario, the general government financing capacity should become positive from 2001 onward. The “budgetary margins”, which will cumulatively reach 1.7% of GDP in 2004, will probably be used to decrease the tax burden or/and increase expenditure: this “changed policy” scenario implies stronger macroeconomic performance than the “unchanged policy” scenario.Short Term Update 02-99 [Contributor - 20/05/1999]
- Economic Outlook 1999-2004 [15/04/1999]
- Economic Forecasts 1999 C [15/02/1999]
- Working Paper 05-98 [15/07/1998]
- Economic Forecasts 1999 [15/07/1998]
- Economic Outlook 1998-2003 [15/04/1998]
- Economic Forecasts 1998 C [15/02/1998]
- Planning Paper 84 [02/01/1998]
- Working Paper 04-97 [15/10/1997]
- Economic Outlook 1997-2001 [15/04/1997]
- Working Paper 4 [15/02/1997]