Short Term Update (STU) is the quarterly newsletter of the Belgian Federal Planning Bureau. It contains the main conclusions from the publications of the FPB, as well as information on new publications, together with an analysis of the most recent economic indicators.
Last edition of the Short Term Update
Since July 1997, the Federal Planning Bureau (FPB) has issued the Short Term Update (STU) as a channel through which to publish indicators on the Belgian business cycle, and from 2002 structural indicators as well. Besides having served as a neat overview of Belgian economic performance, the STU has served as a publicity channel for other research done at the FPB.
We wish, however, to inform our readers that this is the last edition of the STU. As from autumn 2015, structural and business cycle indicators will be updated periodically on the FPB website. Moreover, an English summary will be incorporated into each FPB publication.
The Editorial Board
Headlines Belgian Economy
Against the background of a gradual acceleration in world trade, the recent slide in oil prices and the strong deprecation of the euro, GDP growth for the euro area as a whole should speed up to 1.5% in 2015 and 1.8% in 2016. This recovery is, however, running unevenly as economies such as Germany, Spain and Ireland are growing at an above-Eurozone-average pace, while the French and the Italian economies are expanding at a markedly slower pace.
Despite a setback at the turn of the year, Belgian exports should still post a growth rate of 3.4% in 2015. Under the influence of an acceleration in growth in foreign export markets and limited increases in domestic costs, export growth should further accelerate to 4.6% in 2016. Households' purchasing power is backed by a further increase in employment, but at the same time limited by the policy of wage moderation. The recent improvement in consumer confidence should allow a rise in private consumption that outpaces the increase in disposable income. With a growth rate of 1.5%, private consumption should make a sizeable contribution to economic growth in 2015. The increase is less pronounced in 2016 (0.9%). Business investment remains an important motor of growth.
Domestic employment should increase by 0.5% and 0.8% in 2015 and 2016 respectively (total of 60 000 additional jobs). As job creation in the market sector is positively influenced by the limited rise in hourly wage costs, productivity growth should not accelerate (which is unusual when economic growth gathers momentum). The number of unemployed (broad administrative definition) should decrease by a total of 22 000 persons. The harmonised Eurostat unemployment rate should hence fall back to 8.3% in 2016.
Belgian inflation, as measured by the national index of consumer prices, should amount to only 0.4% as a consequence of the strong decline in energy prices. The latter do no longer exert downward pressure
on inflation in 2016, leading to a rise in the inflation rate to 1.4%.
STU 2-15 was finalised on 15 June 2015.