Economic activity in Belgium is set to decline again in the fourth quarter after already slowing in the third. That’s what the Big Four banks expect according to De Tijd and L’Echo. Recession is a very exceptional case. The current is only the third in 20 years.
The latest numbers indicate an accelerating deterioration of the economy. According to the average forecast of the four banks, the economy will contract by 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter, after a decline of 0.1 percent in the third quarter.
“All indications are that there will be a major break in September,” said Peter Vanden Hutt, chief economist at ING Belgium. “In September, business and consumer confidence fell sharply. As a result, the fourth quarter started at a very low level, because the October data was no better.”
“We’re basically looking at consumption and we see a downward trend there,” says Arne Maes, economist at BNP Paribas Fortis. Consumption is under pressure as very high inflation erodes purchasing power.
Opinions are divided on the outlook for next year. ING and Belfius expect the economy to continue to contract in the first quarter. BNP Paribas Fortis and KBC forecast zero growth. ING expects slight contraction for the whole of 2023 and the other three banks are forecasting little growth.
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