|Unit||Balance of Opinion, SA|
|Business Confidence||May 2020||-34.4||-36.1||Balance of Opinion, SA||Monthly|
|Change in Inventories||2020 Q1||519||1,142||Mil. EUR, CDASA||Quarterly|
|Industrial Production||Dec 2017||110.7||114.7||Index 2010=100, SA||Monthly|
|Real Change in Inventories||1970||1,693,134,800||NCU||Annual|
Each month since 1954, the National Bank of Belgium has surveyed a panel of around 6000 business leaders to find out how they assess the economic climate. The findings are published on or around the 21st of each month and, in addition to overall indicators, also contain findings for each business sector. Participants in the survey are also sent the findings for each product.
Based on the responses of each business, the percentage of businesses reporting an improvement (positive responses), the percentage reporting a deterioration (negative responses) and the percentage reporting a status quo is calculated for each question. The relative importance of each business within each activity covered by the surveys is taken into account when calculating these three percentages. The results from each business (individual results) are then aggregated on the basis of the value added of each activity. For each level of aggregation, a balance is produced for each question: this is the difference between the percentage of businesses reporting an improvement (positive responses) and the percentage of businesses reporting a deterioration (negative responses). If, for instance, the number of positive and negative responses is the same, the balance for the question is zero; a balance of +10, however, indicates that positive responses outnumber negative responses by 10 percentage points.
Once produced, each balance is adjusted for seasonal influences. A synthetic indicator is then worked out for each sector and for each branch of industry, by calculating the arithmetical average of seasonally-adjusted balances for the responses to all the questions, with the exception of those relating to prices. The overall synthetic curve is the weighted average of the synthetic indicators for the manufacturing industry, construction and trade. By summarizing the overall trend of business confidence in this way, the overall synthetic indicator forms what is commonly referred to in Belgium as the economic barometer.
Aside from these gross indicators, which are available from the end of the reference month, smoothed indicators are also compiled. The calculation of a moving average eliminating any extreme movements, these smoothed indicators reflect, with a few months’ delay, the fundamental economic trend.
Revisions not applicable
The qualitative questions relate in particular to production, the order book, employment and prices, and cover three main areas. Firstly, businesses are asked about their most recent developments: do they tend upwards or downwards, or are they unchanged? Secondly, businesses are asked to give an assessment of each development mentioned: is this development normal, better than normal or worse than normal? Thirdly and finally, the business leaders indicate anticipated trends for the next three months.
Business surveys are conducted on the basis of a panel. The same representative sample of businesses that are active in manufacturing industry, construction, trade and B2B services is sent a written survey at the start of each month (by post, fax or e-mail).