Collection of economic and financial data and the performance of socially relevant analyses
The collection and analysis of economic and financial data are two of our most important tasks. First and foremost, our analyses and studies constitute the basis for decisions in areas for which we are responsible, such as monetary policy, financial stability and the proper functioning of payment systems. In addition, other policymakers can use our data and analyses to back their own measures. We also formulate policy advice. Our data and analyses thus have a broad impact on society and the prosperity of households and businesses.
Our advice and measures relate not only to price and financial stability but also to the labour market, the financing of the economy, growth potential, public finances and so on. In our analyses and studies, it is of course important for us to pay attention to current issues, such as digitalisation, the COVID-19 pandemic, social cohesion, climate change and the energy transition. It goes without saying that we wish to share economic and financial information with the general public insofar as possible. We do so through our website, where you can find studies and statistics, as well as via seminars, conferences and cooperation projects with Belgian universities.
Data as the basis for our policies
We have extensive expertise in macroeconomic data (in part in our capacity as the compiler of the national accounts) and prudential data (due to our supervision of the financial sector). In addition, we are seeing an influx in and demand for microeconomic data, short-term indicators and data from new fields such as digitalisation and the green economy. In order to use and interpret these data in a qualitative way in our studies and policy decisions, we need to ensure they are consistent, meaning high-quality data management is indispensable.
Increasing the accessibility of our analyses
To make our studies and statistics available to the general publicinsofar as possible, we post information on our website andgive lectures. For example, every year, thegovernor and directors present the Bank’s annual reportin aroundfifteen Belgian cities.
Moreover, our directors and staff are always ready to provide explanations and clarifications in fields for which the Bank is responsible or in which it has built up substantial expertise. Our people are regularly asked to be guest speakers at universities and schools. Some even share their knowledge as part-time lecturers.
The COVID-19pandemic prompted us to invest in webinars, for instance on the economic projectionsfor Belgium in the context ofCOVID-19 , the economic impact of COVID-19 on the Belgian economy and sustainable entrepreneurship.
On 22 January 2021, we organised an online “NBB listens” event on monetary policy, with participation byvarious civil society organisations.
We are also investing in a more pedagogical approach in order to make certaintechnical analyses more accessible tothe general public.
Promoting awareness of current challenges
The impact of climate change
In our analyses and studies, we naturally have to keep an eye on current events and the challenges that lie ahead. One of the greatest of these challenges is climate change (and the associated energy transition). Since 2018, we have been analysingclimate-related risks tothe Belgian financial sector. Moreover, we participate in various national and international working groups to better assess and manage the economic and financial impact of climate change. Finally, the Bank has established a cross-departmental Climate Hub. For more information on this subject, please see "Assessing and managing climate-related and environmental risks".
On 22-23 October 2020, we hostedan international conference on the economic impact of climate change and the associated challenges for central banks and the financial system. More information on this conference, “Climate change: economic impact and challenges for central banks and the financial system”, can be found on our website.
The impact of COVID-19
We paid particular attention to the COVID-19 crisis and its differing impact on various populations. Lower-income groups appear to have been more vulnerable, while some sectors were more severely affected than others, reflecting how the effects of a crisis or shock can vary widely between households and firms. Insight into who could be most affected by a shock and an understanding of their prior situation are of fundamental importance, for example to determine the appropriate support measures.
It is important for central banks to have insight into the distribution of wealth and indebtedness in society so as to be able to assess the impact of policy measures, make these measures more focused and detect potential sources of risk.
The impact of digitalisation
Digitalisation is having an enormous impact on society, the economy and the financial sector. The digital transformation offers many new opportunities and challenges. New players, services and products, platforms and business models require new data, tools and expertise. Ensuring that all sections of the population keep pace with the digital transition is of great importance for their position on the labour market, access to education and ultimately social cohesion.
Putting our expertise at the service of society
In view of our responsibility toBelgian society, we are also represented on various committees, such as the High Council for Employment, the High Council of Finance and the National Productivity Board.
In our position as a privileged observer, we are able toprovide valuable support to the government, as we didextensively throughout2020 via the Economic Risk Management Group (ERMG). This group, chaired by the Bank’sgovernor and DrPiet Vanthemsche, closely monitoredthe economic and financial impact of the COVID-19crisis.
More recently, the governor was asked to chair the Purchasing Power and Competitiveness ExpertGroup. The task of this group is to provide the government with recommendations and proposals on concrete measures to deal with inflation and the economic challenges associated with the war in Ukraine.
Finally, atthe request of the federal government, the Bank published a comprehensive study on the impact of immigration on the Belgian economy. This study was also presented toParliament.