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.
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.
This report presents the results of an impact assessment of an increase in the social integration allowance (assistance scheme). The study which was commissioned by the State Secretary responsible for poverty reduction consists of two parts, on the one hand, an assessment of the macroeconomic and budgetary effects, including the possible return effects, of the increase and, on the other hand, an estimate of its impact on the poverty risk.
This Working Paper studies the financial and social sustainability of the Belgian social protection system. The results of this publication were presented at the 20st Congrès des économistes belges de langue française and published in the conference proceedings. Assuming no policy changes and against the background of population ageing, the long-term public finance projections highlight an important budgetary challenge. In that framework, this paper examines a number of pathways based on the three pillars of the European strategy as determined during the 2001 Stockholm summit. The budgetary strategy (pillar 1) of the Belgian stability programme in itself does not guarantee the long-term sustainability of public finance and should, therefore, be completed by reforms in support of economic growth (through employment or productivity, pillar 2) or reforms of the pension schemes (as part of pillar 3). The social consequences of the reforms which alter the generosity of the pension schemes should not be overlooked.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
In this paper, we investigate how automatic fiscal stabilisers affect economic activity in the euro area. For this purpose we apply several shocks to the NIME-model, and we compare the adjustment path of the main macroeconomic variables under a regime that allows the automatic fiscal stabilisers to operate fully, with the results for a regime that tempers the working of the automatic fiscal stabilisers. We also compare the results for the euro area with results for the United States and Japan.
In the second section of this paper, we briefly describe the NIME model. In the third section, we present simulation results for various shocks under two different fiscal regimes.