This article is based on the interventions of Jean Hilgers (National Bank of Belgium) and Professor Selien De Schryder (UGent) during the Webinar on the Macroprudential and Financial Stability Report of the National Bank of Belgium (June the 9th, 2022).
The price difference between energy-efficient and energy-inefficient houses has increased over the past decade. And it may even become bigger due to the high energy and construction prices and the future renovation obligations. Although the energy efficiency of the sold homes has improved over the past ten years, it will have to improve a lot more in order to meet the climate targets by 2050. However, there are several supply and demand side impediments and all actors involved – households, government, financial sector and construction sector – have an important role to play in overcoming them. Finally, it is important to take into account the improving energy efficiency when drawing up house price indices.
Het prijsverschil tussen energiezuinige en energieverslindende huizen is het voorbije decennium toegenomen. De hoge energie- en bouwprijzen en de toekomstige renovatieverplichtingen kunnen er bovendien voor zorgen dat dat nog groter wordt. Hoewel de energie-efficiëntie van de verkochte woningen het voorbije decennium is verbeterd, zal deze nog aanzienlijk verder moeten toenemen om de klimaatdoelstellingen tegen 2050 te halen. Hierbij zijn er verschillende drempels aan zowel de aanbod- als de vraagzijde en hebben alle betrokken actoren – gezinnen, overheid, financiële sector en bouwsector – een belangrijke rol om deze te overwinnen. Tot slot is het belangrijk om de verbeterende energie‑efficiëntie in rekening te brengen bij het opstellen van woningprijsindices.
The western sanctions freezing large parts of Russian foreign reserves explicitly used currencies as economic weapons. In the short term, this is unlikely to affect the dominant role of the US dollar as an international reserve currency. Compared to other currencies, the US dollar is still most in line with the requirements that a reserve currency must meet. It is based on a large economy, with well-developed and liquid financial markets and a strong geopolitical status. The fundamental trust in the protection of investors’ property may have experienced a setback by the sanctions, but that also applies to the currencies of other sanctioning Western countries. Cryptocurrencies, gold and the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights are no satisfactory alternatives either, each for their specific reasons. Therefore, in the short term, the most likely evolution is a continuation of the current status quo. In the longer run, changes may well occur and are unlikely to happen in an orderly way.
Basel III is an internationally agreed set of measures developed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in response to the great financial crisis of 2007-09. The measures aim at strengthening the regulation, supervision and risk management of banks. In this contribution Sietse Bracke (NBB) outlines in a non-technical way the major aspects of the finalised Basel III framework – dubbed Basel IV by many. Furthermore, challenges with respect to the implementation in the EU are discussed and it is argued that a timely implementation of a non-watered-down version of the Basel framework is warranted to assure long run soundness of the financial system and robust bank lending in times of crisis.
Vijftien jaar na de financiële crisis van 2008 kunnen we eindelijk een punt zetten achter de invoering van de Bazelakkoorden. Nu ja, een punt zetten… Het laatste pakket maatregelen moet nog omgezet worden in de EU-wetgeving en daar knelt het schoentje. De Nationale Bank trekt aan de alarmbel: een verwaterde versie van de Bazel IV-afspraken volstaat niet om de financiële stabiliteit te garanderen.
The developed world is almost liberated from covid-19. This does not mean that we will be reliving the roaring 20's, or the very fast growth after the second world war. However, we are also a long way from the dire situation after the Great Financial Crisis that had left major scars in the economy. Economic scars from the pandemic are minor compared to the scars left by the GFC.
If we get it right, the reopening and the recovery of the economy - for which a soon returning peace in Ukraine is a prerequisite - could be the harbinger of great things to come. Possibly we are facing a regime change, a reset of the economy rather than a simple reboot. Comparison with the post-war recovery is popular. After the two world wars, the infrastructure had to be rebuilt. This time it needs to be thoroughly adapted to meet the climate challenge. This will require major public investments and adjustments to corporate production. Although a population explosion and a huge increase in credit are unlikely (two important growth engines during the post-war periods), an increase in investment - for a speedy energy transition - and productivity - increased technology investment by a broader range of companies during the covid period - are possible. The government will have to take on an important role here and lead by example. In this way, we can turn the necessary energy transition into an opportunity to put growth on a faster path compared to before the pandemic.
This is the speech given by Philip R. Lane, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB, at Bruegel (Brussels, 5 May 2022).
This article analyzes the behavior of Belgian retail investors over different age categories. It highlights five distinct features of the younger investors aged 18 to 30. First, the stock market keeps on attracting new and young investors. Secondly, younger retail investors show great interest in investing in exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Thirdly, the younger generation applies a more international outlook in its investments than older generations. Fourth, young investors are net purchasers of stocks and hold these investments for a longer period than other groups. Finally, even among younger investors, active retail investors are predominantly male.
The ECB’s strategic review (2020-2021) came out in favour of including owner-occupied housing costs in the way inflation is measured. Surveys that the ECB and the euro area central banks held with the general public revealed that there is considerable concern about rising costs for housing, when it comes to the concept of “inflation”. Yet, such things as house purchase costs are not yet included in the current inflation measure that the ECB uses, namely the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP).
Eurostat already publishes an index, in which house purchase costs, as well as other expenses such as stamp duty and renovation work, are included. This is the owner-occupied house price index. The ECB is calling for this index to be gradually integrated, in stages, into the existing HICP index. This article looks into just what exactly this index reflects, how housing costs will be included, and what impact would that have on the measurement of inflation. The focus is on findings for Belgium.
The impact is quite significant in the most recent period. In 2020, Belgium’s inflation rate, including the cost of owner-occupied housing, would for example have been 0.7 % instead of the official figure of 0.4 %, an impact of 0.3 of a percentage point. Based on the first three quarters of 2021, the impact would even be 0.4 of a percentage point in that year.
Strangely enough, foreign companies invested more in Belgium than vice versa till 2015. Belgium overcame this peculiar situation. Belgium's outgoing direct investment exceeds its incoming nowadays, creating wealth abroad. This blog describes how some key investors contributed to a turnaround and caused more capital to flow to foreign economies. You can also read more about the stability and other advantages of foreign direct investment
This article is based on the introductory speech given by Karel Baert, CEO of Febelfin, at Febelfin Connect (Brussels, 28 March 2022), Febelfin’s annual networking event. The topic of this year’s event was “Financing the transition towards a more sustainable society”.