The recession is embedded in a period of ongoing economic slump, which started in the second quarter of 2011, with various quarters of economic decline. The economy declined by 0.9 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. The number of working days in the fourth quarter of 2012 is the same as one year previously.
Exports improved by 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter relative to one year previously. With an 8.8 percent growth, re-exports made a significant contribution. Exports of products manufactured in the Netherlands grew marginally, after showing decline in the third quarter. Exports of products made in the Netherlands are more profitable than re-exports. Exports of natural gas, petroleum derivatives and chemical products were considerably up in the fourth quarter.
Fixed capital fomation declined by 5.2 percent in the fourth quarter from one year previously. Investments declined almost across the board, in particular in housing and civil engineering projects, but also in machinery and installations. Household spending was 2.3 percent down in the fourth quarter from one year previously. Household consumption has shrunk for nearly two years. The slump in the fourth quarter was more substantial than in the preceding quarters. Household consumption dropped across the board in the fourth quarter. Household spending on durable consumer goods fell by more than 9 percent.
Government consumption was 1.1percent up from one year ago. The costs of social benefits increased notably. Government spending on public administration was at the same level in the fourth quarter as in the fourth quarter of 2011, after a marginal decline in the preceding quarters..
If the entire year 2012 is taken into account, the economy showed a negative growth of 0.9 percent compared to one year previously. Household consumption declined by 1.4 percent and investments by 4.7 percent. Government consumption grew 0.7 percent, exports grew 3.1 percent. In 2011, the economy still showed a 1.0 percent growth. The most important difference between 2011 and 2012 is that investments were still growing in 2011.