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2014 OECD Economic Surveys: Netherlands 2014

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This 2014 edition of OECD's Economic Survey of the Netherlands examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. It also includes special chapters covering boosting the development of efficient SMEs and making the banking sector more resilient.

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Making the banking sector more resilient and reducing household debt

Dutch banks were put under heavy strains early in the global downturn and have comparatively weak financial buffers to cope with new shocks. Falling house prices have increased the share of households with negative home equity to nearly 35% for home-owning households and 40% for mortgage holders. Even though defaults have so far been limited, mortgage amortisation is low and risks are concentrated among younger borrowers who often do not have sufficient resources to cope with adverse shocks. Banks are very large relative to the size of the domestic economy, have sizeable cross-border exposures and rely significantly on wholesale funding. Resolution procedures should be strengthened to reduce the potential cost for the taxpayer and the regulator’s tools available to reduce risks should be expanded. In particular, banks should set aside sufficient provisions for expected losses and problem loans, which requires some harmonisation of the definition of non-performing loans across banks. Higher capital buffers would bolster financial stability and help ensure access to market funding while lowering its cost. Welcome measures have been taken to encourage household deleveraging, but deeper and broader steps are needed to bolster financial stability and improve consumer protection when the housing market starts to recover durably and over the medium term. The stock of existing mortgages should be gradually converted into amortising mortgages, the cap on the loan-to-value ratio reduced significantly below 100% and housing subsidies to homeownership cut more decisively.

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