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Hipster Vilvoorde

My hometown is Vilvoorde, a city with about 43,000 inhabitants neighboring the Belgian capital of Brussels and with a checkered past. Vilvoorde thrived during the Industrial Revolution due to the proximity to Brussels and the excellent transport infrastructure. Being one of the largest industrial areas around Brussels, the city remained successful until the late nineties when subsequent economic crises started to have an adverse effect on the economy. As a result, Vilvoorde received a rather grey and negative image which is sometimes propagated to this day. Local commercial policy (or the lack thereof) hasn’t been able to stop increasing shop vacancy in the main shopping street, which only aggravated the reputation. Lately a trend has been rising in our city next to the river Zenne. One that might point towards the answer for both the local economy and the city as a whole, if policy makers choose to see and address it. Let me tell you about Hipster Vilvoorde.

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Korat growth boom will accelerate

Looks like the current development of the city of Nakhon Ratchasima (short: Korat) is going to shift in an even higher gear. The city closest by my Thai residence already was in a growth spurt, with one mall drastically expanded, a second about to open and rumours about a third and a forth going ’round. A high-speed train connection between Bangkok and Korat has already been planned previously, now a second to Khon Kaen will be announced, as well as a nog highway to Bangkok. The local real estate market already grows about 10-15% every year, which will more than likely even accelerate. Impressive.




European Central Bank in trouble

The guys over at Zerohedge just made a very valid point, that slightly scared me. Bear with me, I’ll explain what the article says, in layman’s terms. Technically, the European Central Bank (ECB) prints Europe’s currency, but it does much more than that. By contracting and expanding the money supply (respectively by buying and selling government bonds, or removing and adding money into Europe) it regulates our monetary and economic climate. To get the economy going, the ECB has been injecting money into the system and lowering interest rates. The idea is that the additional money lowers the value of the Euro and stimulates exports. Low interest rates make savings accounts less attractive, chasing savings into consumption and investment. All these effects should kick-start the economy. Over the last months, the ECB has injected 60 to 80 billion Euro into the markets … per month. As a result the ECB expects inflation to get to just 0.2%. This implies one of two things:

  • If their forecast is accurate: their measures have little or no impact
  • If their forecast is off: they have no ability to assess the impact of their measures.