2023 ends with positive economic signals
The Western economy suffered immensely from Russia's invasion of Ukraine but is in full recovery now. At the end of the year, several indicators signal optimism.
Due to the invasion, energy prices went up sharply, and so did inflation, followed by interest rates. Today, inflation is much lower - although due to the methodology of that indicator, interpretation is not that easy. Most interest rates have started their descent. It’s now already cheaper to buy a house and to invest, and governments have to pay less for their sovereign debt. While this is a step in the right direction, the very low interest rates of the past are not expected to return quickly.
In Belgium, similar to other countries, the unemployment rate is at a record low. After decades of high unemployment, this is good news, but companies are having a hard time finding the right people to fill open positions. There are more job openings than candidates, with pay increases as a result. With baby boomers retiring, this situation will persist, unless migration can help.
Most stock exchanges in the world did well in 2023, with Brussels an exception.
Due to the types of companies in Brussels, the index stagnated.
Looking ahead, there are reasons for more optimism. The breakthrough of AI should improve productivity in many sectors. Investments in climate, environment and energy should inject more money into the economy.
Globalisation continues to raise questions, meanwhile. Will countries cooperate again, or will geopolitical conflicts prevail?
© BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS