I skipped last week due to the lack of articles that interested me and were memorable.
This week it’s a bit different. I read four articles that stuck with me/caught my attention.
My memorable reads
Japanese central bank (BoJ) larger than Japanese economy
Original source: K. Vansteeland (2018, November 14). Japanse centrale bank groter dan Japanse economie. De Tijd, p. 28
The title pretty much explains why this one piqued my interest. It boils down to the fact that the balance of the Bank of Japan (BoJ) is larger than the Japanese economy as a whole.
The main culprit of this result is buying back of state bonds by the central bank that started about 5 years ago in 2013 by Shinzo Abe and governor Haruhiko Kuroda.
By buying back (and thus creating more money), the BoJ is trying to increase the inflation rate to ~2%. Up until now, they have failed to reach their target and economists even fear a shrinking economy.
Bank services are becoming more expensive
Original source: P. Dendooven, (2018, November 03). Bankdiensten worden duurder. De Standaard, p.E2-E3
As of January 2019, ING, KBC, BNP Paribas Fortis, and many other banks will increase some of their banking services. Fortis will double the cost of transfer pension funds and will charge 340 EUR per year if a person has an 85,000 EUR stock portfolio and wishes personalized advice. KBC has something similar and will increase the cost of its advice from 151 to 363 euro per year.
Other banks increase the costs of their daily banking products amongst other things. For example, VDK increase the yearly costs to 24 EUR (coming from 20) per year, Bpost increases its price to 15.76 euro and with ING a Lion Account for two holders will set you back 10 EUR annually.
It’s clear that the banks are trying to counter the low-interest income by making charging for things that used to be free. the danger is, that this is the start of yearly increases in basic daily banking services. This is anything but a positive evolution. I doubt the talk Kris Peeters, Minister of Consumer Affairs, will have with the financial institutions will be fruitful.
Belgium is lagging behind in NFC payments
Original source: Editors, (2018, November 17). België hinkt achterop in contactloos betalen. De Standaard, p.E3
On the same page as the previous article, I found out that Belgium is seriously lagging behind in wireless payments with 4% of transactions being done without the need for contact. By comparison, The Netherlands will most likely reach 51%.
This under-use of NFC payments is even more striking because Belgium used to be a pioneer in electronic banking.
The article further states that we are closing in.
More and more cards have the wireless payment feature with an estimated 50% having the NFC capability by next year.
Complete randomness when applying securities tax
Original source: W. Vervenne, (2018, November 17). Grote willekeur bij toepassing effectentaks. De Standaard, p.39
My non-Belgian readers might not know this but since 2018, Belgium has a tax on wealth, though we shouldn’t call it that. It’s called a securities tax. Exactly the same, but to appease everyone not exactly.
0.15% gets withheld at the end of the year in case your total stock portfolio goes above 500K per titular holder. It’s not progressive. Sounds simple, right?
Alas, like most things it’s not that simple. The article clarifies why exactly and unfortunately it makes it clear why it’s a half-baked measure to please certain people.
The main issue is the definition of the titular holder. While most banks consider both the naked owner and the beneficiary as the titular owners, some banks see it differently and thus apply it differently. Most likely to play it safe but the article doesn‘t explain it further.
As an example, the Belgian bank Belfius only considers the naked owner as the titular of the securities account. This difference is very important in certain cases. Take a farther that owns a securities account holding 1.2 million euro. He confers the account to his two children but stays the beneficiary. Since the bank only considers the naked owners as titular owners, the two children both ow 600K in securities tax or 900 euro. Most banks on the other hand, also take the naked owner as a titular. Because this splits the account in three each owner holds “only” 400K euro resulting on an account lower than the required 500K.
I wonder how this will unfold. It’s probable that people in this situation will try to request a refund through the collection center of public finances.
These were my memorable articles of the past week.
Do you have anything that you want to share? Leave a comment with a link or a summary and why you find it interesting.