Methodological explanation

The loans aimed in this survey, are those granted to residents of the euro area by domestic credit institutions, among which loans or credit lines to non-financial corporations, loans to households for house purchase and consumer credit and other lending to households. The definition of loans used is the one as defined in Regulation (EG) nr. 25/2009 of the European Central Bank of 19 December 2008 concerning the balance sheet of the monetary financial institutions sector (Recast) (ECB/2008/32). Inter-bank loans are not included. Based on this definition, the financial lease agreements granted by MFI are to be considered as loans (this is not the case for operational lease agreements). Within the scope of this survey, factoring has to be treated as a loan, under the condition that it has been foreseen by an MFI. Financial lease agreements and factoring offered by an non-MFI, are outside the scope of this survey.

The credit standards are the internal guidelines or standards reflecting the credit granting policy of a credit institution. They constitute of written or unwritten criteria, or other acting methods regarding this policy, who determine which type of loans are desirable or undesirable for the bank, which geographical area is the priority, which type of collateral is (in)acceptable. Whenever a change in credit standards is mentioned in the questionnaire, the credit institution also needs to indicate the change in the adoption of this policy.

The values used in the graphs represent "diffusion index". Grosso modo this concept is defined as the difference between the percentage of answers indicating a development in a specific direction, and the percentage of answers indicating a progress in the opposite direction. In order to calculate this indicator, one can choose between either attributing the same value to all possible answers expect the "neutral" answer (this method is used by the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve of the United States) i.e the “net percentage”, or attributing different values indicating the magnitude of an answer (i.e. higher values for answers who differ more from the "neutral" answer) (approach of the Bank of Japan) i.e. the “diffusion index”. One of the advantages of the second approach is that it not only indicates in which direction the evolution goes, but it also takes into consideration the intensity of this evolution, which allows refinement of cross-period comparisons. Due to the limited size of the Belgian sample (namely four credit institutions), the National Bank of Belgium has opted for the second approach. In this way it avoids too tightened results, and consequently a lack of information. The selected indicators are defined as follows:

Applied criteria to the approval of loans or credit lines  
  Indicator = % of institutions reporting "tightened considerably" * 1,0
    + % of institutions reporting "tightened somewhat" * 0,5
    - % of institutions reporting "eased somewhat" * 0,5
    - % of institutions reporting "eased considerably" * 1,0
         
Factors influencing the criteria applied to the approval of loans or credit lines  
  Indicator = % of institutions reporting "contributed considerably to tightening" * 1,0
    + % of institutions reporting "contributed somewhat to tightening" * 0,5
    - % of institutions reporting "contributed somewhat to easing" * 0,5
    - % of institutions reporting "contributed considerably to easing" * 1,0
         
Demand for loans
  Indicator = % of institutions reporting "increased considerably" * 1,0
    + % of institutions reporting "increased somewhat" * 0,5
    - % of institutions reporting "decreased somewhat" * 0,5
    - % of institutions reporting "decreased considerably" * 1,0
         
Factors influencing the demand for loans
  Indicator = % of institutions reporting "contributed considerably to an increase" * 1,0
    + % of institutions reporting "contributed somewhat to an increase" * 0,5
    - % of institutions reporting "contributed somewhat to a decrease" * 0,5
    - % of institutions reporting "contributed considerably to a decrease" * 1,0
         

The possible values of this indicator vary between -100% (considerable easing or decrease for all respondents) and + 100% (considerable tightening or increase by all respondents).

The results of the observed evolutions and those of the expected progress are visualised in the same graph, as such expectations about supply and demand for credit are rapidly interpretable. Moreover, the Belgian results are compared to the results of the euro area as a whole, calculated via the above mentioned formula, in order to evaluate the national results in a larger context.

With the purpose of ensuring an optimal representation of the banking sector, the sample for the euro area has been determined keeping in mind specific characteristics of the respective national baking structures. The sample group participating in the survey currently comprises 142 credit institutions from all euro area countries, with a minimum of three credit institutions a country. Within one country, the results are aggregated. The national results are provided to the European Central Bank by the respective central banks. They are weighted on the level of the euro area, based on the respective national shares in the total amount of credits granted within the euro area to the non-banking private sector. The Belgian sample consists of four credit institutions, who granted 72 % of all credits granted by Belgian banks to the non-banking private sector. The share of Belgium in the euro area amounts up to 3.0 %.