It was not until 1947 that the Netherlands national production index regained the level it had been at in 1938. The recovery became tangible from 1948 onwards, although the national trade balance was still in deficit. From 1953 onwards, the situation clearly improved, with an increase in production (up 10% in the year 1954 alone), lower unemployment and an increase in currency reserves. The economy was on the right track and finances were healthy. The following years saw the number of unemployed people fall sharply to 70,000 at the end of 1954. The financial markets were stimulated from 1954 on by the introduction of a more liberal regime for capital transfers within the Benelux region, and the new system enabled large financial deals to take place between Belgium and the Netherlands. These deals were in the interests of both countries given the abundance of capital and the lower interest rates in the Netherlands.
The years 1958-1961 were marked by monetary tension resulting from inflationary pressures and from the external account deficit. Nevertheless a tight credit policy, together with the consolidation of public debt, enabled the country to maintain a level of economic prosperity. This led to a revaluation of the guilder in March 1961, which weakened the position of the Dutch economy and put the brakes on expansion. Growth took off again from 1963 and the subsequent wage increases were balanced by gains in productivity.
1963 was an important year in the history of the Netherlands economy, as it was then that the extent of the natural gas deposits at Slochteren, in Groningen province, was recognised. Proven reserves were put at 1,100 billion cubic metres, which meant that it was one of the largest gasfields in the world.
As the number of capital market deals, especially bond placements, declined, the branch nevertheless saw its international trade finance activities grow and stepped up its shareholdings in companies. Furthermore, commercial banking business began to flourish from 1950 onwards. However, it took around ten years before interest and commission on loans, discounting and documentary credit transactions accounted for half the branch s revenue.
The capital market
The branch took part in a number of bond placement operations on behalf of the Dutch central government, the Belgian cities of Liege and Antwerp, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the city of Amsterdam. The branch also took part in a 4¼% bond issue by N.V. Nederlandse Maatschappij tot Financiering van Huurkooptransacties (NEMAFI) in 1956, in the stock exchange listing of shares in French aluminium conglomerate Pechiney in 1960, and in the placing of bonds issued by Belgian airline Sabena in 1961.
93F R O M B A N Q U E D E PA R I S E T D E S PAY S - B A S T O PA R I B A S , 1 8 7 2-1 9 9 7