Economic and financial data and analyses of key broad social relevance

Collecting and analysing economic and financial data is one of our most important tasks. First and foremost, our analyses and studies constitute the basis for taking decisions in our own policy fields, i.e. in monetary policy, safeguarding financial stability and the proper functioning of the payment system. In addition, other policy-makers can make use of our data and analyses to back their policy measures. We ourselves also formulate policy advice. Our data and analyses thus have a broad impact on society and on the prosperity of households and companies.

The advice we give and the measures we take relate to price and financial stability, but also to the labour market, financing the economy, growth potential, public finances, and so on. In our data, analyses and studies, it is of course important for us to also pay attention to current issues, such as digitalisation, the COVID-19 pandemic, social cohesion, climate change and the associated energy transition. We also want to share all this economic and financial information with society as much as possible. This we do via our website where you will find our studies and statistics, but also for example via seminars, conferences and collaboration projects with Belgian universities.

Data forms the basis of our policy

We have at our disposal extensive expertise in the field of macroeconomic data (partly due to our privileged position as compiler of the national accounts) and prudential data (due to our supervision of the financial sector). In addition, we are now seeing an increasing inflow of and demand for microeconomic data, short-term indicators and data from such new fields as digitalisation and the green economy. In order to use and interpret all this data in a qualitative way for our studies and policy decisions, we need to ensure that it is consistent, meaning that high-quality data management is indispensable.

Not only the government, but also the other economic players need reliable information to be able to take sound decisions. By making our data even more transparent and accessible, we provide a crucial service to society.

Steven Vanackere, Director

Making our analyses increasingly accessible to the general public

To make our studies and statistics available to society to the largest extent possible, we not only use our website but also give lectures. For example, our governor and our directors present the Bank's annual economic and financial report every year in some fifteen Belgian cities.

Moreover, our Directors and employees are always ready to explain areas for which the Bank is responsible or in which it has built up clear competences. Bank employees are regularly requested as guest speakers at universities and schools. Some of them even share their knowledge of their field as part-time lecturers.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, we have also been investing in webinars, for instance on the economic forecasts for Belgium in a COVID-19 context, on the economic impact of COVID-19 on the Belgian economy and on sustainable entrepreneurship.

On 22 January 2021, we also organised an online “NBB listens” event on monetary policy with the participation of various civil society organisations.

We are also investing in a more pedagogical approach in an attempt to make some technical analyses more accessible for the general public.

 

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 challenges is climate change and the energy transition. As of 2018, we have been analysing the climate-related risks for the Belgian financial sector. Moreover, we are participating in various national and international working groups to better assess and manage the economic and financial impact of climate change. For more information on this subject, please go to the section on "Assessing and managing climate-related and environmental risks".

 

On 22-23 October 2020, we held an international conference on the economic impact of climate change and the associated challenges for central banks and the financial system. For more information on the conference on “Climate change: economic impact and challenges for central banks and the financial system”, please consult our website.

The most important question is not whether we need to take action to combat climate change, but how we can do this in an economically and socially sustainable way.

Pierre Wunsch, Governor

The impact of COVID-19

We are also paying particular attention to the COVID-19 crisis and its heterogeneous impact on different populations. Lower-income groups would appear to be more vulnerable, while some sectors are more severely affected than others, reflecting how the effects of a crisis or shock can vary widely between households and companies. Insights into who could be most affected by a shock and understanding what their situation was before that shock are of fundamental importance, for example for determining support measures.

It is important for a central bank to understand the distribution of wealth and debt in order to assess the impact of policy measures, make them more focused and uncover potential sources of risk.

The impact of digitalisation

Digitalisation is having an enormous impact on society, on the economy and on the financial sector. The digital transformation offers many new opportunities but also many challenges. New players, new services and products, new platforms and business models require new data, new tools and new expertise. Ensuring that all sections of the population can be involved in the digital transition is of great importance for their position on the labour market, their access to education and ultimately for social cohesion.

Putting our expertise at the service of society

In view of our responsibility towards Belgian society, we are also represented in various committees, such as the High Council for Employment, the High Council of Finance and the National Productivity Board.

 

In our privileged observer position, we can provide valuable support to the government, as done extensively throughout 2020 via the Economic Risk Management Group (ERMG). In this group, chaired by our Governor and Dr. Piet Vanthemsche, we have been closely monitoring the economic and financial impact of the coronavirus crisis.

At the request of the federal government, we also published a comprehensive study on the impact of immigration on the Belgian economy. This study was also presented in the federal Parliament.