Following the reopening of the economy early 2022, after the last national lockdown due to Covid 19 in December 2021, the first economic indicators looked fairly positive at the beginning of the year. However after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February the situation started to change quite rapidly. While the pandemic became more controlled, energy and food prices were already climbing and political sanctions and additional supply-demand imbalances resulting from the Russian-Ukraine war, fuelled inflation further to double-digit figures not seen since the 1970s. This was followed by a series of increases of policy interest rate increases by central banks to temper inflationary growth and future new increases are expected.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine and rapidly escalating events in late February and in March 2022 were a significant tragedy for the people and caused disruption to business and economic activity in the region and worldwide. The war is not expected to end soon and its effects will be felt into 2023.
The Dutch economy recorded a positive growth in 2022, with year-on-year GDP growth of 4.5%. However there were significant fluctuations during the course of the year. After the reopening from the last lockdown, the economy saw a strong growth in the first half of the year with year-on-year GDP growth of respectively 6.5% in Q1 and 5.2% in Q2. However as the effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the end of February became evident, quarter-on-quarter growth figures in the remaining two quarters were negative. This eventually resulted in a lower but still positive year-on-year GDP growth in 2022.
The energy crisis that had already started to unwrap in the second half of 2021, further escalated during 2022 and resulted in record high double digit inflation rates in September and October. Energy costs stabilised from November due to the relatively warm temperatures. The overall average inflation for 2022 was 10.0%.
As a result of the record high inflation and overall uncertainty, consumer confidence deteriorated in 2022 and reached an all-time low of -59 in September. By the end of 2022 there was a slight recovery of consumer confidence again. Producer confidence also dropped and remained just on the positive side (+3), despite challenging market characteristics.
The ECB increased its benchmark deposit rate four times during 2022 to temper inflationary growth. The first increase was in July by 50 basis points followed by two increases of 75 basis points in September and October and finally by 50 basis points in December. The ECB rate went from -0.5% at the beginning of 2022 to 2.0% at the end of the year and further increases in 2023 are very likely to occur, whereby a 50 basis points increase in February 2023 and a 50 basis points increase in March 2023 took already place.
As a result Dutch government bond rates increased substantially over the year, from 0.15% at the end of 2021 to 2.35 % at the end of 2022, while mortgage rates increased from 1.65% (December 2021) to 3.37% (December 2022).
After a gradual increase during Q2 and Q3, unemployment rates declined marginally to 3.5% in December from 3.8% (December 2021). Under the current high inflation and uncertain economic circumstances, the situation on the labour market remains tight. Shortages in the labour market are visible in a growing number of sectors, hampering productivity. The number of bankruptcies continued to remain fairly stable and at a very low level, although forecasts are also increasingly dire on this front.
The short-term economic outlook for the Netherlands is slightly positive but fragile, as the country faces a number of challenges on the road to recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, combined with new uncertainties triggered by the geopolitical and economic effects of the war in Ukraine and rising inflation and interest rates across the world.
More detailed information can be found in Bouwinvest's Dutch Real Estate Market Outlook 2023-2025.
Consumer price index (CPI)*
Interest rate government bonds, long-term*
*Average number over the year
Source: Oxford Economics (10 February 2023)