Dutch consumption lowest in eurozone: Central Bank
(THE HAGUE) - The Netherlands had the lowest consumption growth in the 17-nation eurozone over the last decade, owing to a decline in incomes and a weak property market, its central bank said Thursday.
"Over the last 10 years, nowhere else within the eurozone has there been such poor consumption growth," the Amsterdam-based Central Bank (DNB) said in a statement.
"This is remarkable, because in the 1990s the Netherlands was in fact one of the countries with the highest growth in consumption," it added.
The Dutch economy officially slipped into recession in the fourth quarter of 2011, the national statistics bureau said last month after gross domestic product declined in two consecutive quarters.
"An important factor in this is a dip in household consumption," the DNB said.
It blamed the declining growth in consumption on decreasing pay, saying income had declined on average by 0.7 percent per year between 2002-2011 as opposed to an average 3.2 percent rise per year between 1992-2001.
The DNB also underscored the boom in real-estate prices between 1995-2001, saying it had encouraged owners to take out extra mortgages and spend more at the time.
"As the property market weakened in the years afterwards, so did the urge to spend," it noted, adding that property prices in the Netherlands had dipped by 10 percent from their highest point.
The DNB said it expected the decline in consumption growth to end "sometime this year" but added that "at the moment it is even worse than during the serious economic crisis of the early 1980s."
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