Exactly one year ago, the brilliant minds of the EC made a GDP forecast for 2009 : they expected 1.8 % growth. Now the expect minus 4.5 % (both numbers are for the whole of the EC).
I wouldn't have cared to show my face in the street for a couple of weeks if I had made a forecasting error of that magnitude.
But to the great minds in Brussels, that "smallish" difference is probably no more than "l'épaisseur du trait" as we used to say in forecasting cycles, although, in my days, pencils had much finer points. But then it was up and up and up again ; all was for the best in the best of worlds and trees grew straight into heaven.
And, to be honest, at this time last year, few were the observers who expected a crash of the magnitude we just lived through. Let me rephrase that : we are living through.
Moreover, let's not forget that this is early May : the final numbers may be much worse indeed !
The forecast for Belgium is - I select my words very carefully - an outright catastrophy. There is nothing even remotely good about it.
See "Belgium" in chapter two of : http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/publication_summary15046_en.htm.
By the way, let's not forget that the man who now plans to save Europe from the crisis - although Europe doesn't know it yet - bears a very heavy responsibility for the structural deterioration of the Belgian economy. He failed to act when there was sufficient leeway and when he could have created a much healthier base for the future.