Since 1954, the National Bank has conducted a monthly business survey using a panel of around 3,000 business leaders in order to find out how they view the economic situation. The results are published around the 21st of each month; they comprise not only overall indicators but also the results for each branch of activity. Survey participants also receive results per product.
In 1954, at the request of the Belgian business organisations, the National Bank set up monthly surveys of business confidence. First devised in the United States in the 1930s and introduced in Europe (Germany) in 1949, these surveys aim to obtain a quick and accurate view of the opinion of business leaders regarding the state of the economy and the developments likely to take place in the short term. They form an extremely valuable tool for economic analysis as the results, available for the current month, predate much of the information obtained from the quantitative indicators.
The business surveys form the subject of a European Commission harmonisation programme, so that the methods used and the results obtained in the various European countries are entirely comparable.
The monthly business survey results are circulated with comments in a brief press release published between the 21st and the 25th of each month. The exact date is announced in a timetable accessible on the website.
Industrial firms are also asked once a quarter about their capacity utilisation rate, and twice a year about their investments. The results of the capacity utilisation survey are incorporated in the monthly press release, whereas the investment survey results are published in a special press release.
The National Bank conducts the survey on a variable sample of 1,850 consumers. The results are published around the 19th of each month. The survey, which is harmonised at European level, supplies concise information on consumers’ confidence regarding the progress of the economy.
During the 1970s, the economic information based on the monthly business surveys was supplemented by a consumer confidence indicator obtained from household surveys.
The consumer survey forms the subject of a European Commission harmonisation programme, so that the methods used and the results obtained in the various European countries are entirely comparable.
The results of the monthly consumer surveys are published with comments in a press release issued between the 17th and 20th of each month. The exact date is announced in a timetable accessible on the website.
Bank Lending Survey
Results of a quarterly survey conducted at national level by the Eurosystem central banks, covering the leading credit institutions and concerning credit market developments. Credit institutions are asked to give their opinion on the conditions concerning credit supply and demand in the recent past and in the immediate future. The results are available for both Belgium and the euro area as a whole.