Dutch economy recovering to pre-crisis levels

The Dutch economy and government finances are both in a much better state than expected a few months ago, according to Statistics Netherlands' December estimate. The Rutte II cabinet is expected to end its term without a deficit and the economy is reaching the level it was before the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008, ANP reports..

The Statistics Netherlands accountants expect economic growth of 2.1 percent in 2017. That is the same level as this year, following a 2 percent growth last year. Three months ago 1.7 percent was expected for 2016 and 2017.

The higher than expected economic growth this year created substantial tax windfalls, which the government used in part to decrease its deficit. Statistics Netherlands expects that this development will continue and that the government's expenditure and revenues will be balanced next year for the first time in 9 years. 

The strong growth also means that the economy is again at the same level, calculated per capita, as in 2008. Employment is also finally returning to pre crisis levels after what Statistics Netherlands calls an "unusually long" recovery period. Unemployment is expected to fall to 5.3 percent next year, which is still higher than before the recession. 

The national debt is decreasing. According to Statistics Netherlands' estimates, the national debt will be under the European limit of 60 percent of gross domestic product next year. The last time this happened was in 2010. 

The economic growth will next year again be boosted by consumers, who benefited from wage increases over the past two years. Their purchasing power will also increase by 0.7 percent next year, though this is significantly lower than the 3 percent increase of this year. 

Despite the bright forecasts, the economic and political situation remains uncertain in the European Union, Statistics Netherlands warns.