Right since the start of the eurozone crisis, the Netherlands has been held up as one of the Triple A rated countries who were a pillar of fiscal virtue. The country's debt levels were respectable, the deficit looked manageable, unemployment appeared to be low. The Dutch were standing shoulder to shoulder with the Germans one the fiscal conservatism side of things. The Dutch hadn't gone crazy when it came to either personal or sovereign debt. Savings rates were good. Why couldn't everyone be like them?
Well, all is not quite as it seems in the land of tulips and windmills. The Dutch actually have the highest consumer debt in Europe - 250% of available income. Unemployment is on the increase and the economy is on the slide. There was a property bubble after all and Dutch banks did go pretty crazy too. What makes it worse that many borrowers weren't paying off their loans. Instead, they put money into an investment fund hoping that the profit generated would pay off the loan. But what investment fund is generating a profit now?
Unemployment still seems low but could be underestimated by 800,000 - proportionally, that's over 200,000 in Irish terms. Consumption is down. More people are saving as the cold winds of recession blow ever more strongly. In February 2013, bankruptcies hit a new record - the highest monthly figures since records began in 1981. Because of all the mortgages, the assets held by banks are four and a half times annual economic output. It's not Cyprus but it's not pretty.
Economic Crisis Hits the Netherlands - SPIEGEL ONLINE