10-2-2021

Rebalancing the Dutch economy | with Dirk Bezemer

The mountain of debts incurred by Dutch households, financially eroded local authorities, shareholder capitalism and the lack of investment in sustainability – we need to change our financial system as a matter of urgency, says Economist prof. dr. Dirk Bezemer.

The Netherlands is a wealthy country, but the money is mounting up in the wrong places: it is accumulating with shareholders, with the state, and in the international financial markets, or is put towards reducing the national debt. On the other hand, we see declining wages, the excessive flexibility of the labour market, decreasing buffers of small companies and households, and gaps in the municipal finances. Financial assets grow at the expense of innovation, resilience, and support, and the economic inequality in the Dutch society is constantly increasing.

According to Dirk Bezemer, this is the result of the "small buffer capitalism" that the Netherlands has embraced for the past thirty years. Experts and policymakers have been talking about this issue for years; the solutions are ready and waiting. Now it is time for politicians to do something about it. Especially now that the coronavirus pandemic is turning up the heat. If we want to get out of this crisis in one piece, and if we want to reverse the economic inequality, we need to change our financial system as a matter of urgency. The coming years will be decisive, and the forthcoming parliamentary elections (Tweede Kamerverkiezing 17 maart) are the opportunity for Dutch citizens to speak out on this issue.

Prof.dr. Dirk Bezemer is professor of Economics of International Financial Development (University of Groningen). His research focuses on the influence of financial development on the growth, stability and inequality of the economy. He leads a research team working on financial fragility, economic models and the causes and consequences of the financial crisis. Dirk Bezemer regularly contributes to the public debate about the role of the financial sector in society. Recognising the disastrous social consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, he wrote a popular science book (in Dutch) entitled Een land van kleine buffers (A country of small buffers). In this book, Dirk Bezemer not only outlines how the financial policy has led to significant economic inequality over the past ten years, but also presents concrete suggestions to rebalance the Dutch economy.

This lecture has been organized in collaboration with B&R Beurs Eindhoven, the student investment society of the Eindhoven University of Technology.