PSeveral banks have lowered their growth forecasts for the Belgian economy this week, L’Echo and De Tijd reported on Saturday based on a survey. This is mainly linked to very high energy prices, themselves influenced by the fear of shortages.
This fear has led to a dramatic rise in the price of gas in Europe. Natural gas has become 64% more expensive since the beginning of August. Gas now costs seven times more than a year ago and is about ten times more expensive than in the United States. As for the price of electricity, it has also increased.
“We expect an energy problem in winter,” says Philippe Ledent, economist at ING. “We assume that energy prices will remain high and we fear an energy shortage. »
The five banks surveyed all expect zero growth in the third quarter. Four of the five – BNP Paribas Fortis being the exception – expect the economy to contract in the fourth quarter.
ING and Degroof Petercam predict a recession, as they also see economic activity shrinking in the first quarter of 2023. Economists speak of a recession when the economy contracts for two consecutive quarters.
The banks’ average growth forecast for the whole of 2023 is just 0.2%, compared to 2.4% for 2022. But forecasts range from -0.4% to +0.7%. This large difference illustrates the enormous uncertainty.