May 19, 2009

The "black hole": a real problem or a fata morgana?

The Dutch balance of payments has shown a surplus for many years now. Theoretically, this should have led to substantial positive net external wealth. Statistics tell a different story though. Dutch savings seem to disappear in what was labelled the ‘black hole’ by Arnold Kusters in the nineties.

Large sums of money are involved. The increase in net external wealth between 1990 and 2009 is 200 billion euro lower than you would have expected by looking at accumulated Dutch savings.

This document presents the results of recent research, particularly that of Wim Boonstra. The causes and economic consequences of the black hole are discussed. Prices of assets and liabilities are important determinants of ‘the black hole’. They may show large variation over time and their impact on the real economy is hard to quantify.

For these reasons, the usefulness of the concept for economic policy analysis seems to be limited so far.

This publication is in Dutch.


Herman Noordman

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