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This report shows the estimations of potential growth and the output gap for Belgium, based on a technical update of the Federal Planning Bureau’s June 2020 medium-term projections (update published in September 2020). The results are then compared to the European Commission’s Spring 2020 forecasts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.