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    NBB Sets Countercyclical Buffer Rate at 0.5% in Belgium

    June 28, 2019

    NBB announced its plans to increase the countercyclical buffer (CCyB) rate for credit risk exposures to the Belgian private non-financial sector from 0% to 0.5% for the third quarter of 2019. This decision is subject to a one-year implementation period, which means that the CCyB rate of 0.5% will become binding from July 01, 2020.

    CCyB is a temporary buffer that is built during the upward phase of the credit cycle to ensure sufficient absorption capacity for banks to have sufficient margin to cover credit losses during the downward phase of the cycle. The activation of CCyB by NBB is purely preventive, in line with the principles of the macro-prudential policy. In view of the acceleration of the Belgian credit cycle for the private non-financial sector, a precautionary and gradual buildup of CCyB is justified to ensure sufficient resilience in the Belgian banking sector, to secure the necessary absorption capacity for potential credit losses and to safeguard the continuity of credit supply to the Belgian economy going forward. These buffers will be immediately released in the event of a financial shock. Should cyclical systemic risks decrease and the credit cycle turn, these additional buffer requirements will be relaxed toward a 0% neutral level, commensurate with the cycle.

    The measure entails the buildup of an additional (countercyclical) buffer of approximately EUR 1 billion for the Belgian banking sector. Given the current solvency position of Belgian banks and the imposition of a relatively limited 0.5 % buffer rate, this measure should not disrupt credit pricing or credit availability to the Belgian economy. NBB has adopted this measure as a precaution in light of an accelerating credit cycle. However, NBB is also taking due account of the current economic uncertainty. In this context, NBB stands ready to withdraw the measure if a significantly negative and persistent shock were to occur during its phase-in period, to avoid any procyclical effects of the measure.


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    Keywords: Europe, Belgium, Banking, CCyB, Systemic Risk, Credit Risk, Macro-Prudential Policy, NBB

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