3 November 2005
BRUSSELS — Belgian residents are no longer the richest Europeans, having been surpassed by British and Dutch nationals last year.
In ratio to Gross Domestic product (GDP), Belgians were crowned as the wealthiest Europeans in 2002, newspaper ‘De Tijd’ reported on Thursday.
At that time, their financial wealth amounted to 255 percent of GDP, the EU statistics office Eurostat said.
But new figures indicate that Belgium lost its top position in 2004. Despite combined wealth increasing to 257 percent of GDP, British and Dutch nationals made bigger leaps ahead.
The wealth of Britons in ratio to GDP rose from 252 to 270 percent, while Dutch wealth rose by 247 to 268 percent.
The change is possibly due to the fact British and Dutch nationals invest more in the stock market, meaning more of them profited from the recovery of markets since 2003.
The highly conservative investment attitudes of Belgian families prevented a sharp decline of family wealth during the stock market crisis. However, it also stands in the way of a wealth recovery.
In 2000, at the peak of the stock market boom, Belgians were also left trailing British and Dutch households.
Liquid assets of Belgian families amounted to 32 percent of their equity at the end of last year. National Bank figures indicate share portfolios only accounted for 8 percent of Belgian financial equity at the end of 2004.
The average Belgian household prefers indirect investments, via investment funds. However, gross investment is not purely stocks and shares. Instead, the most popular investment funds have capital protection.
Meanwhile, the stronger growth of Belgium’s GDP in comparison with the Netherlands and Britain can help explain the nation’s slide in the wealth rankings. The Belgian economy grew 2.7 percent last year, 1 percent more than Dutch GDP.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news