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Economy in Brief

Consumer Confidence In The Low Countries Hit By Financial Woes In The Euro Area
by Louise Curley  December 20, 2010

Data on consumer confidence in December were released today for the Netherlands. A few days ago similar data for Belgium were released. There are no measures of consumer confidence for the third low country, Luxembourg. In the Netherlands and in Belgium consumer confidence declined in December after having improved for several months running. The percent balance between the optimists and pessimists in the Netherlands declined from -7% in November to -14% in December. In Belgium, the pessimists exceeded the optimist by 2% in December after a balance between the optimists and pessimists in November.

Consumer confidence data in the two countries, over the life of the series, are shown in the attached chart. In both countries, the pessimists tend to outweigh the optimists. The average percent balance of opinion on consumer confidence in the Netherlands is -4% and for Belgium, -7%. Thus the current balance of opinion on consumer confidence of -2% for Belgium is above its long term average, while in the Netherlands, the current balance of opinion of -14% if considerably below it long term average.

Although financial conditions in the two countries have not been a problem, the financial conditions in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain have been and they have adversely affected confidence in the whole euro area. The deterioration in the appraisal of the economic climate that has taken place in both countries can be seen in the table below. In the Netherlands, the balance of opinion on the economic climate fell to -18% in December from -6% in November. In Belgium, the balance of opinion on the appraisal of economic conditions over the past 12 months declined from -12% to -19% and the balance of opinion on the appraisal of the economic situation over the next 12 months declined from 8% to 3%. Data on consumer confidence for the low countries are found in the Haver data base, BENELUX.

Dec 10 Nov 10 Oct 10 Sep 10 Aug 10 Jul 10 Jun 10 May 10
Netherlands Consumer Confidence(% balance) -14 -7 -10 -14 -11 -14 -18 -16
Economic Climate -18 -6 -10 -17 -14 -19 -29 -22
Belgium Consumer Confidence(% balance) -2 0 -2 -4 -7 -9 -13 -8
Economic Situation: Appraisal over Past 12 Mo. -19 -12 -19 -17 -15 -25 -36 -37
Appraisal over Next 12 Mo. 3 8 3 7 4 -4 -6
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