Europe > Belgium

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Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, Veronika Penciakova, and Nick Sander
We estimate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on business failures among small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in seventeen countries using a large representative firm-level database. We use a simple model of firm cost-minimization and measure each firm’s liquidity shortfall during and after COVID-19. Our framework allows for a rich combination of sectoral and aggregate supply, productivity, and demand shocks. We estimate a large increase in the failure rate of SMEs under COVID-19 of nearly 9 percentage points, ab-sent government support. Accommodation & Food Services, Arts, Entertainment & Recreation, Education, and Other Services are among the most affected sectors. The jobs at risk due to COVID-19 related SME business failures represent 3.1 percent of private sector employment. Despite the large impact on business failures and employment, we estimate only moderate effects on the financial sector: the share of Non Performing Loans on bank balance sheets would increase by up to 11 percentage points, representing 0.3 percent of banks’ assets and resulting in a 0.75 percentage point decline in the common equity Tier-1 capital ratio. We evaluate the cost and effectiveness of various policy interventions. The fiscal cost of an intervention that narrowly targets at risk firms can be modest (0.54% of GDP). However, at a similar level of effectiveness, non-targeted subsidies can be substantially more expensive (1.82% of GDP). Our results have important implications for the severity of the COVID-19 recession, the design of policies, and the speed of the recovery.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Article IV Consultation highlights that Belgium has experienced nine consecutive years of economic growth. Per capita GDP has surpassed pre-crisis levels, and unemployment is at its lowest level in four decades. The financial sector has also undergone structural changes and increased its resiliency to shocks. The authorities have implemented important reforms in recent years that have contributed to job creation, improved competitiveness, and lowered the deficit. However, the reform agenda is unfinished, and the new government should take advantage of the still favorable economic conditions to press ahead with further reforms to strengthen the resilience and growth potential of the economy. The priority should be to rebuild fiscal buffers by gradually moving toward a balanced budget in the medium term, supported by efficiency-oriented spending reforms. It is also imperative to boost productivity growth by supporting entrepreneurship, increasing investment in infrastructure, strengthening competition in services, and fostering innovation.
Mr. Kwangwon Lee

Abstract

The Quarterly National Accounts Manual (the Manual) provides conceptual and practical guidance for compiling quarterly national accounts (QNA) statistics. The Manual offers a comprehensive review of data sources, statistical methods, and compilation techniques to derive official estimates of quarterly GDP. The new edition—which upgrades the first edition, published in 2001—improves and expands the previous content based on recent methodological advances, best country practices, and suggestions received from QNA compilers and experts.

Mr. Kwangwon Lee

Abstract

The Quarterly National Accounts Manual (the Manual) provides conceptual and practical guidance for compiling quarterly national accounts (QNA) statistics. The Manual offers a comprehensive review of data sources, statistical methods, and compilation techniques to derive official estimates of quarterly GDP. The new edition—which upgrades the first edition, published in 2001—improves and expands the previous content based on recent methodological advances, best country practices, and suggestions received from QNA compilers and experts.

International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, & and Review Department
The first data and statistics strategy for the Fund comes at a critical time. A fast-changing data landscape, new data needs for evolving surveillance priorities, and persisting data weaknesses across the membership pose challenges and opportunities for the Fund and its members. The challenges emerging from the digital revolution include an unprecedented amount of new data and measurement questions on growth, productivity, inflation, and welfare. Newly available granular and high-frequency (big) data offer the potential for more timely detection of vulnerabilities. In the wake of the crisis, Fund surveillance requires greater cross-country data comparability; staff and authorities face the complexity of integrating new data sources and closing data gaps, while working to address the weaknesses noted by the IEO Report (Behind the Scenes with Data at the IMF) in 2016. The overarching strategy is to move toward an ecosystem of data and statistics that enables the Fund and its members to better meet the evolving data needs in a digital world. It integrates Fund-wide work streams on data provision to the Fund for surveillance purposes, international statistical standards, capacity development, and data management under a common institutional objective. It seeks seamless access and sharing of data within the Fund, enabling cloud-based data dissemination to support data provision by member countries (e.g., the “global data commons”), closing data gaps with new sources including Big Data, and improving assessments of data adequacy for surveillance to help better prioritize capacity development. The Fund also will work with policymakers to understand the implications of the digital economy and digital data for the macroeconomic statistics, including new measures of welfare beyond GDP.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper examines various factors driving the uptrend in house prices, with a particular focus on institutional and structural factors. The extent of a possible valuation gap is gauged empirically in the context of a cross-country panel analysis of long-run fundamental determinants of house prices using data from 20 OECD countries. Norway has seen a long housing boom since the mid-1990s apart from a brief and mild downturn during the global financial crisis, with house price inflation exceeding income growth by a wide margin. Although real house prices have also been up strongly during the same period in the majority of advanced economies, Norway experienced one of the highest increases in the OECD. With house prices rising ahead of income, the average cost of a home relative to the median household income nationwide has almost doubled since the mid-1990s, rising much faster than OECD average. In absolute terms, the house price-to-income (PTI) ratio is also high relative to a range of countries.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This 2015 Article IV Consultation highlights that Belgian economy has shown considerable resilience but the outlook is weighed down by weak demand in Europe. Healthy private balance sheets, integration with Germany, and employment support schemes have helped sustain employment and economic activity. However, output is still well below potential and with, subdued growth prospects, job creation remains insufficient. Fiscal adjustment is expected to resume after a pause in 2014. The pace of adjustment targeted by the authorities for 2015–16 is appropriate given the level of debt and related risks.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
The 2014 Article IV Consultation discusses economic developments and policies in Belgium. It highlights that despite its resilience, the Belgium economy has been losing competitiveness due to higher labor cost and lower productivity growths than peer countries. The government has taken measures to close the wage gap, but it is highlighted that the economy also needs to become more productive and adaptable through deeper product and labor market reforms. The supervisory and regulatory frameworks are being strengthened with a new draft banking law that restrains trading activities and improves the recovery and resolution framework.
Matteo Ghilardi and Raffaele Rossi
It has been shown that under perfect competition and a Cobb-Douglas production function, a basic real business cycle model may exhibit indeterminacy and sunspot fluctuations when income tax rates are determined by a balanced-budget rule. This paper introduces in an otherwise standard real business cycle model a more general and data coherent class of production functions, namely a constant elasticity of substitution production function. We show that the degree of substitutability between production factors is a key ingredient to understand the (de)stabilising properties of a balanced-budget rule. Then we calibrate the model consistently with the empirical evidence, i.e. we set the elasticity of substitution between labour and capital below unity. We show that compared to the Cobb-Douglas case, the likelihood of indeterminacy under a balanced-budget rule is greatly reduced in the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom.