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  • Mardi 15/6/2021
    de Lima / Kalantzis

    Since 2016, the European Investment Bank Group (EIB) has conducted an annual survey on Investment and Investment Finance (EIBIS). This includes interviews with some 13,500 firms from the EU27 Member States, the UK and the US, of which around 480 are Belgian in 2020. The survey covers both SMEs and larger corporates in main economic sectors, offering qualitative and quantitative information about their investment activities, financing needs and the difficulties they face.

    The EIBIS 2020 was conducted during the spring/early summer of 2020, right after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of the pandemic on EU firms and elsewhere has been substantial, leading to large revenue losses and changes in investment strategies. Therefore, assessing business needs and setting priorities is crucial for a rapid and solid recovery of the EU.

    In this context, the current note analyses and discusses the answers given by Belgian firms on their investment activities, such as objectives, obstacles, drivers, and financing conditions. These answers are compared with the responses of the other surveyed companies in the EU to identify areas for potential improvement and target setting for Belgium.

  • Mardi 15/6/2021
    Pierre Wunsch

    This article is based on the introductory speech given by Pierre Wunsch, Governor of the National Bank of Belgium, at the EIB – National Bank of Belgium Webinar “Investment for a sustainable recovery in Belgium” on 30 April 2021.

  • Lundi 17/5/2021
    Van den Broele, Baeten, Ernaelsteen, Roosens

    The actual policy measures taken by the different governments focus mainly on the liquidity needs of the companies. The actual situation of the companies reveals the increasing solvency challenges. Some 20% of the companies who were healthy before the crisis, are now facing huge difficulties. Fiscal measures are needed to restore and pump up the solvency. This can be done via the company tax: recuperation of fiscal losses, self financing, deductibility of risk capital, tax credit for the increase of own funds. But the mobilisation of risk capital and savings is also needed via the launching of a COVID-19-taxshelter, a new version of the “Cooreman - De Clercq” stimulus in favour of investment in equities, the creation of quasi-own funds. Of course, an increased deductibility for investments or an acceleration of amortisations could be also helpful. 

  • Lundi 17/5/2021
    Ben Granjé

    The organisation wants to stress the crucial role that small to medium sized investors play in our national economy, by financing the small & medium sized enterprises. These Belgian-sized companies lack attention and liquidity from the larger and institutional investors, which drains the lifeforce from the Brussels exchange ever more and consequently of our national economy.             
    This year, again, the amount of dormant savings in Belgium has reached record highs: over 600 billion euros. To boost the economic revival in Belgium, it is vital to activate these reserves.  
    In this article, VFB proposes several elements to achieve this activation, thereby creating multiple benefits towards the financial health of this country, its economy, and its population. Essentially, VFB promotes equity investment through better financial education, (employee) share ownership in both listed and unlisted companies to gain experience and alleviate social unrest, and fiscal incentives to overcome a long history of populist storytelling (painting investors as a load on society in stead of the engine). A small initial cost should yield significant ROI for all stakeholders.

  • Lundi 17/5/2021
    Georges Hübner

    The coronavirus crisis has created two bottlenecks in the financial circuit. On the lending side, there is a surplus of idle household savings for many - but not all - households, while there is a potentially large unmet need for capital increases at affordable conditions for those companies that have suffered from the crisis. To redirect savings into an alternative financial instrument, the latter must be (i) safe, (ii) liquid, (iii) non-loss-making, and (iv) socially meaningful. To persuade companies to open their capital to external investors, they should be able to issue securities that are (i) equity-like, (ii) non-diluting, (iii) non-voting, and (iv) self-destructing. It is not easy to link these two incompatible needs, but we believe that, thanks to the current economic conditions with low interest rates but a positive expected economic growth rate, some adequate financial engineering could bridge the gap. For households, we advocate the issuance of liquid bullet bonds with a variable coupon and guaranteed capital. On the corporate side, the proceeds of these bonds would be invested in callable, cumulative, convertible preferred shares. A proper asset & liability management governance can ensure a smooth management of the maturity, credit and liquidity risks of the structure. Based on the feedback of many knowledgeable actors of the Belgian economy, we list several potential hindrances that need to be overcome to succeed with this project, but we believe that none represents a crippling obstacle.  

     

  • Lundi 17/5/2021
    Geert Gielens

    Belgium used to be known as a country with a high tendency to save. The banking sector managed to inject this savings mass into the real economy. There is hence no systematic savings surplus. However, since the beginning of the COVID crisis savings increased strongly and part of these savings must be placed overnight with the ECB. The COVID pandemic thus shows that supply and demand in our financial markets are not well aligned and that there are some missing links in our financial landscape. 

  • Mercredi 10/3/2021
    Hilde Vernaillen

    Interview met Hilde Vernaillen, CEO van P&V Group en voorzitster van Assuralia.

  • Mercredi 10/3/2021
    Olivier De Jonghe, Christophe Piette & Joris Tielens

    The COVID-19 crisis has taken its toll on the Belgian corporate sector. A sudden drop in revenues and imperfect downscaling of costs has put considerable pressure on firms’ cash buffers. In this article, we document the pockets of corporate liquidity and solvency risk and examine the role of various policy measures taken to keep businesses afloat. We show that the support measures taken have successfully dampened cash outflows of firms. Despite these interventions, approximately one out of six non-financial firms are estimated to remain with pressing cash deficits attributable to the pandemic prior to the start of the second wave. Our analysis documents a non-trivial rise in solvency risk. Losses caused by the COVID-19 crisis have severely eroded many firms’ equity in the most affected sectors and replenishing their cash reserves would involve a substantial rise in their indebtedness in the absence of alternative financing sources.

  • Jeudi 4/2/2021
    Dessoy

    For more than 25 years, Belfius has been analyzing the financial situation of general hospitals in Belgium through its Maha study (Model for Automatic Hospital Analysis).

    The in-depth analysis of the 2019 annual accounts of Belgian hospitals (part 1) shows once again that their financial health is precarious, despite a very slight improvement compared to previous years. Consequently, they cannot absorb a financial setback, especially a tsunami like the Covid-19 crisis.

     

    The first projections (part 2) suggest, with the usual precautions, turbulence of an unprecedented magnitude for the sector. With the second wave of contaminations, hospitals are likely to suffer a current loss of more than 2 billion Euros.

     

    The hospital sector alone will not be able to overcome the financial consequences of this health crisis (part 3). In the short term, financial support from the public authorities is indispensable, while in the medium term structural reforms in hospital financing seem unavoidable to preserve the sector's viability

  • Jeudi 4/2/2021
    logo nbb

    Lending to private individuals was strongly influenced by the COVID-19 crisis last year. The number of new credit lines went down by 29,6% and the instalment loans decreased by 18,7%. The number of mortgage loans dropped by 14,8% which is largely due to the exceptionally high volume recorded in 2019 in anticipation of the abolition of the housing bonus in Flanders at the end of 2019. At the end of 2020 the number of private individuals with payment defaults declined by 6,3%. This cannot be dissociated from the possibility of getting a temporary payment delay on account of the COVID-19 crisis. The 7,2 million consultations of the Central Credit Register of the National Bank implied a drop of 14,8%.

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