Covid-19 has hit health systems and economies all over the world. To weather this crisis, the financial sector encompassing Febelfin, the National Bank of Belgium and the minister of finance installed a financial bazooka of €50 billion on March 22, 2020. In contrast to some other countries such as Switzerland, this bazooka did not work out as expected. In this short note, we make an evaluation and go deeper into potential drivers behind this failure. We conclude by making some alternative suggestions.
The consequences of the present corona-crisis are disruptive and unprecedented since1929. GDP is expected to go down by approximatively 7 % in Belgium and 7,5 % in the Euro Area, with alarming effects on unemployment and public debt.
The economic authorities have reacted with great vigour. The ECB has ensured the market liquidity, and the governments have increased their deficits. However, one should wonder about the limits of such policies. The monetary policy of the ECB could be questioned if inflation were to exceed the 2 % threshold. Moreover interference by national agencies such as the German Constitutional Court is to be feared. Yet, the limit of public indebtedness is to be found in the availability of lenders at a reasonable rate, which is narrowly linked to the rate and liquidity policy of the ECB. Moreover the cost of the debt has now proved to be more important than the debt ratio as such.
Finally, one can try to identify the “winners” and the “losers” of the crisis. Among the former are the governments, the collective health systems and research. Among the latter are uncontrolled international exchanges and unlimited delocalizations. De-growth, in its most radical sense, is also to be ranked along the losers. The fate of taxpayers is rather unclear; however it can be hoped that the crisis would encourage fiscal authorities to privilege the fight against big tax evasion, the taxation of financial transactions and the introduction of a general carbon tax. At last, the reaction of the European Union seems to to get closer to what would be most useful. It is especially the case with the project of common loans set forth by Germany and France. Moreover the new types of taxation mentioned hereabove could be an ideal opportunity for Europe to show how useful she can be.
The National Bank of Belgium has been conducting a monthly consumer survey for many years now. This survey, with its general scope, has proved very useful in the context of the current crisis, as the movement in the confidence indicator closely mirrors the different phases of the COVID-19 crisis. From April, the Bank also took advantage of the survey to ask consumers two additional questions: one on the loss of income due to the crisis and the other on the savings buffer available to get through the crisis. This article focuses on these two questions, highlighting how different population groups may vary in their exposure to the crisis.
The crisis has a large impact on income growth and this will lead to downward pressure on house prices. But there are also factors that support the housing market. We expect that the mortgage interest rate will remain low, that the relative yield on real estate will remain attractive and that the belief of Belgians in real estate will not be damaged. All in all, we currently think that house prices will drop by about 2% in 2020 and remain constant in 2021.
The Delors Committee (1988-1989) played a crucial role in the process of European monetary integration, especially in the preparation of the Maastricht Treaty. In this article Niels Thygesen, one of the few members of the committee who is still alive, tells in an interview with Ivo Maes and Sabine Péters, about his experience in the committee. He identifies the key issues, the crucial players and analyses their strategies and interactions, offering thereby fascinating insights in the making of the Delors Report.
The paper summarizes results from three representative surveys in Austria about ownership and intended ownership of crypto assets. About 1.6% of Austrians own crypto-assets. Owners are younger, more likely to be male, more tech-affine, have higher financial knowledge and are more risk-tolerant than non-owners. Plans to purchase are strongly related to profit expectations and beliefs that crypto-assets offer advantages for payments. Perceptions of high volatility or the risk of fraud and online theft dampen the demand for crypto-assets. Overall, our results suggest that demand for crypto-assets can to a considerable extent be attributed to a profit motive. Distrust in banks or in conventional currencies is not found to be a decisive factor for (intended) ownership.
CDO, CMO, ABS, MSB, CDS. Vraag 10 mensen wat deze afkortingen betekenen en 11 zullen je het antwoord schuldig blijven. Nochtans zijn het stuk voor stuk financiële producten die de wereldeconomie bijna over de rand van de afgrond duwden. Hoe kan het dat een handvol mysterieuze acroniemen spaargeld in rook deed opgaan en onaantastbare instellingen op de knieën kreeg? Meer dan 10 jaar na de financiële crisis blijft het voor velen een raadsel.
In “Bang voor de Bank: het survivalboek voor de financiële jungle” helpen ervaren gidsen Alain Praet en Pascal Paepen onze koudwatervrees te overwinnen.
Monetary policy implications of three different forms of digital money – cryptocurrencies, stablecoins and central bank digital currency (CBDC) – are discussed. Because of their limited adoption and lack of moneyness, cryptocurrencies are unlikely to constrain monetary policy in the foreseeable future. Stablecoins, by contrast, could reach a critical size, in particular if they were sponsored by large companies with a sizeable potential user base. CBDC would constitute a digital representation of the official currency that is accessible to everybody and could entail material consequences for monetary policy and financial stability. At the current stage, central bankers mostly feel that a convincing monetary policy motivation is missing or are concerned about the disruptive potential for financial stability. As digitalisation of payments is evolving quickly, the assessment of costs and benefits associated with CBDC may change in the future.
Technological advancements, evolving consumer demands and intensifying competition are reshaping the retail payment landscape.
In response to growing demand for faster and easier ways of making retail payments, a wider range of payments providers is now offering tangible payment solutions to match user needs.
Traditional banks are competing with new market entrants, such as fintech companies, tech giants and even wearables providers. Technological advancements have opened up a vast new world of possibilities for initiating and processing payments and integrating them more organically in consumers’ lifestyles.
With the coronavirus crisis, we anticipate an aggravation of the inefficiency of the allocation of financial resources in the Belgian economy, with excess idle savings from households and an increasing shortfall of equity for many companies impacted by the economic downturn. We discuss the conditions under which, on the one hand, the savings surplus could be mobilized, and on the other hand, the corporate world could accept the infusion of outside equity capital. The proposed solution, following standard Asset & Liabilities Management (ALM) principles, is the setup of a private equity fund offering callable, convertible and cumulative preferred shares, funded through the issuance of either (i) a popular bond with floating coupon assorted with the government guarantee, or (ii) an asset backed security with a senior fixed coupon and a junior equity tranche, with the collaboration of the financial sector.