‘No sign yet of economic down-turn’

The Dutch economy has not yet been hit by the US credit crisis, economists with the national statistics office CBS said on Thursday.

Banks are continuing to invest and interest rates have not yet gone up, the CBS’ Michiel Vergeer told the Financieele Dagblad. ‘So far so good,’ the paper quotes him as saying.
Vergeer was speaking at the presentation of new CBS figures on the economy in 2007 which showed no sign of an economic downturn.
The CBS said the economy grew by 3.5% last year, with the final quarter showing an improvement of 4.4% – the highest increase for seven years. The number of jobs rose by 2.6% or some 200,000.
The overall 0.5% growth increase on 2006 was mainly due to increased exports but investments and consumption also helped, the CBS said. The construction industry and service providers led the above-average growth in productivity.
Householders spent more money on luxury goods – but growth in that sector was down on 2006, the statistics office said.
‘The 2007 figures show that the Netherlands can take a knock,’ Vergeer told the FD, ‘But it is sensitive to developments in the world economy’.
Last week, the central bank warned against high expectations for growth this year, which it expects to be just 1.5%. Central bank chairman Nout Wellink has urged the government to get ready to cope with the downturn.
And on Wednesday it emerged that the government’s economic policy think tank CPB is to revise down its 2008 economic growth estimate from 2.25% to 1.75%.

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