A brighter forecast

hw sp 14 1It’s not often that economists from different stables agree. However, such was the case in late February when the Chicago Booth Alumni Club of Belgium1 gathered in Brussels for their annual economic outlook dinner.

Guest speakers were Filippo di Mauro, Senior Advisor, DG – Research at the European Central Bank and Philippe Ledent, Senior Economist at ING who provided insights on the economic situation in Europe.

They both agreed - which is rather uncommon for economists - that the outlook for the advanced economies looks brighter. There is a clear pick-up of activity in the export driven economies in Europe and the U.S.

They also forecast that the inflation will remain low. Industrial activity will drive the economy, but we will see the domination of a small number of large corporations.

Closer to home, rising net exports and household consumption helped the Belgian economy to end 2013 on a positive note. GDP rose by 0.4% in the final quarter, bringing the annual rate to 0.2% and ending two years of stagnation. GDP growth is expected to reach 1.4% in 2014 before rising to 1.7% in 2015. Household spending is expected to accelerate further towards the end of the year, in parallel with labor market prospects. Despite an improving economy, government deficit levels are expected to remain broadly unchanged.

In the second part of the evening, Peter Hinssen2 took the floor. Peter is one of Europe’s thought leaders on the impact of technology on our society with a focus on the adoption of technology by consumers, on the impact of the networked digital society and on the alignment between Business and IT. He described the impact of several disruptive technologies that wiped out whole industries.

Peter Hinssen claims that we will enter the VUCA era, the time of: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.

By the same token, although disruptive technologies will destroy a lot of jobs in traditional sectors, he anticipates that they will also create many new jobs in new industries.

2 www.peterhinssen.com