The Dutch economy has proven its resilience despite the numerous global challenges it has faced in recent years, according to Klaas Knot, President of De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB).
Presenting the DNB Annual Report 2022, Klaas Knot highlighted the robust growth of the Dutch economy, which saw a 4.5% increase in 2022, following a 4.9% growth in 2021.
He also noted the low unemployment rate of 3.5% and the stable solvency of banks, insurers, and pension funds.
However, Knot expressed concern over the high inflation rate of 11.6%, driven by factors such as the pandemic, war, rising energy and food prices, and an exuberant economy aided by government support policies.
As a result, the European Central Bank (ECB) has taken action by halting bond purchases and raising interest rates by 3.5 percentage points, aiming to bring inflation back to the 2% target.
Despite these efforts, Knot warns of three significant challenges ahead:
- Rapidly rising interest rates risk financial stability, and recent events in the US and Swiss banking sectors show that poor risk management can damage confidence in the financial sector.
- Geopolitical risks, including the ongoing war in Ukraine and tensions between the US and China, contribute to international economic fragmentation, which can negatively impact small, open economies like the Netherlands.
- High debt levels accumulated by governments and businesses worldwide during and after the pandemic may lead to difficulties when interest expenditure rises.
In response to these challenges, Knot calls for staying on course, maintaining financial buffers, and playing an active role in international organizations such as the European Union, the IMF, and the G20.
He also urges the Dutch government to address the high budget deficit, which currently stands at the European standard of 3%.
Knot warns that exceeding this limit during an economic downturn could necessitate spending cuts and tax increases.
As the government drafts the 2024 budget, Knot emphasizes the importance of balancing expenses with the need to support various groups, such as earthquake victims in Groningen and farmers, without relying solely on the budget deficit.