Importance of research into savings behaviour among non-financial corporations
The savings surplus in the Netherlands has been one of the highest in the world for several decades, which implies that savings have invariably exceeded investment. Savings are concentrated among corporations, with non-financial corporations accounting for roughly 80% of the Dutch savings surplus between 2000 and 2017. In recent years, however, their share contracted slightly, as the net contributions of financial institutions, households and the government increased. We are currently researching the savings behaviour of Dutch non-financial corporations in-depth, given their large share in the Dutch savings surplus and the lack of clarity about their motives. We plan to issue a detailed study on the Dutch savings surplus later this year, discussing corporations’ savings motives, the purpose of their savings, the role played by laws and regulations, and international perspectives.
A first: consistent breakdowns of corporate savings surplus
This summer, we presented the outcome of our initial analyses based on Statistics Netherlands' microdatabase on the statistics of finances of enterprises (Statistiek Financiën Ondernemingen – SFO). However, the SFO microdata do not add up to the total macroeconomic savings surplus of the non-financial corporations sector in the National Accounts. This is because other data sources are also used in preparing NA statistics.
Our researchers have now for the first time successfully broken down the NA's macroeconomic savings surplus by type of enterprise, by combining various DNB and Statistics Netherlands sources – the NA, a tailor-made Statistics Netherlands table on the role played by multinational corporations in the Dutch economy, the SFO microdatabase and detailed DNB balance of payments statistics. Not only can the figures be broken down between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large corporates (LCs), the latter category can also be decomposed further into enterprises that form part of Dutch or foreign multinational corporations and those that do not. Various assumptions had to be made to underpin these decompositions, but the findings presented below remain valid under alternative assumptions.
New method confirms substantial share of SMEs
The new method confirms that both LCs and SMEs account for the Dutch savings surplus. Chart 1 shows the savings surplus as a percentage of value added, distinguishing between SMEs and LCs. Throughout the 2000-2017 period, SMEs accounted for 42% of the surplus on average, and LCs for 58%. In 2015 and 2016, SMEs were responsible for all but the entire surplus.