Belgium Economy Between 1960 and 1970

According to top-medical-schools, the Belgian economy in the decade 1960-70 is characterized by a succession of development and recessive phases. The periods 1963-64 and 1968-70 can be defined as “high” conjuncture; in both periods the engines of this expansion were exports and fixed investment by firms. In fact, the economic recovery, which began towards the end of 1967, under the pressure of exports has gained the main sectors making up domestic demand, also realizing a marked improvement in the trade balance, which went from −5.7 billion francs in 1966 to 6.1 in 1967, -2.0 in 1968, 8.8 in 1969 and 39.4 in 1970. Very elastic at the beginning, the conditions of supply gradually tightened; the increase in unemployment, which took place in the low economic period, in the years 1965-67, it has largely been reabsorbed and the utilization rates of production capacities have reached high values ​​in the industrial sector. The positive trend in the balance of payments intensified during this period of recovery and the surplus increased sharply in 1969 (+200) and then reached 886 in 1970. Until 1969, large outflows of speculative capital had been implemented ; since 1970 the movements have instead reversed, mainly due to the stabilization of the monetary situation due to the revaluation of the German mark. The economic improvement was accompanied by a marked acceleration in the level of prices and wages. In the years 1968-70, monetary and budgetary policy was regulated more closely than in other years by the need to control demand in the short term; the flight of capital, which had been one of the main reasons for the gradual tightening of monetary conditions, continued until the revaluation of the German mark. Economic policy and a recovery in private consumption also contributed to the acceleration of progress achieved in the two phases of development under consideration. However, the two periods have differences in their structure: the most recent occurred after two years of particularly weak economic conditions, which had led to a sharp increase in unemployment rates and a significant decrease in the utilization rates of industrial capacity. The previous period of development, on the other hand, represented the culmination of an expansionary phase, which had lasted since 1960, and which had reduced the unemployment rate to relatively low levels (1.9% of the active population). These differences partly explain why the productive capacity was not fully exploited and the wage increase took place in a much shorter time frame in 1970 than in 1964. However, both phases of expansion led to an inflationary push of the prices, almost equivalent. After these periods of development, the Belgian economy suffered a slowdown in its growth in the years 1970-72, mainly due to a decrease in exports from the BLEU (Belgian Luxembourg Economic Union). The economic recovery cycle, which began at the end of 1972,

After a vigorous expansion, which took place in the first five months of 1974, Belgian economic activity however found itself facing a negative economic phase, manifested by a decrease in foreign demand and production in the various sectors, especially in the steel industry, which caused an increase in unemployment, which went, at the end of 1974, to 3.4% from 2.8% in the corresponding period of 1973. In the third quarter of 1975, however, a consolidation began in the economic situation, which therefore strengthened at the same time. early 1976. The positive trend assumed by the Belgian economy was favored by the increase in public spending, by the growing export orders and above all by the increase in private consumption. Only the investment trend remained very weak,

The decline in unemployment which occurred in the first half of 1976, after reaching 4.4% of the active population, also contributes to the underlying optimistic attitude. To curb the constant increase in the number of young people looking for their first job, it was decided by the authorities to offer older workers the opportunity to retire early.

In order to try to mitigate the serious phenomenon of inflation and, at the same time, the lack of interest in investing on the part of companies, the Belgian government since the beginning of 1976 has replaced the price freeze, valid until then, with the obligation to communicate it increases. The collective labor agreements in force were extended, as in the Netherlands, until the middle of 1976. The contingency index, which ensures an automatic adjustment of wages and salaries to the increased costs of living, still applies only to monthly income gross up to 40,000 Belgian francs. All the highest incomes were fixed until the end of 1976. However, the Belgian trade unions, which, although divided into CSC (Christian) and FGTB (socialist), group together 70% of the workers, did not fully accept this policy,

According to provisional calculations, in December 1975 the trade deficit of the Belgium-Luxembourg economic union fell to Bfrs 1.3 billion (4.3 in November). Thus for the whole of 1975 the trade deficit was 68 (the previous year 58) billion Bfrs. This deficit was largely offset by the increased expenses of the international organizations present in Belgium and Luxembourg, which amount to over Bfrs 30 billion.

Belgium Economy