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Harmonised Business Confidence Index (HBCI)

Harmonised Business Confidence Index (HBCI) Catalonia. 4th quarter 2019
Index Quarterly variation % Year-over-year variation %
Total 134.3 -2.9 -2.4
By activity sectors
Industry 122.1 -4.1 -4.8
Construction 152.9 -1.3 -2.0
Trade 140.6 -2.7 -3.3
Hostelry and transport 153.0 -3.4 2.0
Rest of services 130.9 -2.5 -2.0
By size of the business
Less than 10 wage-earners 137.6 -2.3 -2.5
From 10 to 49 wage-earners 140.4 -2.8 -2.4
From 50 to 199 wage-earners 132.7 -5.6 -2.3
From 200 to 999 wage-earners 124.4 -2.5 -0.9
1000 or more wage-earners 127.8 2.5 -7.1
By chamber (1)
Chamber of Barcelona 132.5 -2.6 -2.7
Rest of chambers of Barcelona 129.5 -1.2 -0.9
Chambers of Girona 137.6 -4.6 -4.3
Chambers of Lleida 149.9 -3.0 -0.9
Chambers of Tarragona 135.2 -4.2 -2.7
Units: Base 2013 I quarter = 100.
Source: Idescat and INE.
Note: The Business Confidence Index for each quarter of 2012 are not harmonized.
(1) See methodology.
Harmonised Business Confidence Index (HBCI) Spain. 4th quarter 2019
Index Quarterly variation % Year-over-year variation %
Total 131.1 -2.9 -2.1
By activity sectors
Industry 123.5 -2.9 -3.0
Construction 142.5 -3.6 -2.6
Trade 134.3 -1.6 -1.1
Hostelry and transport 139.1 -2.9 -0.3
Rest of services 127.4 -3.3 -2.7
By size of the business
Less than 10 wage-earners 134.4 -3.0 -2.0
From 10 to 49 wage-earners 134.5 -3.4 -2.3
From 50 to 199 wage-earners 127.4 -2.8 -2.7
From 200 to 999 wage-earners 121.6 -2.8 -2.5
1000 or more wage-earners 117.9 -1.0 -2.4
Units: Base 2013 I quarter = 100.
Source: INE.

Date published: October 11, 2019.

Statistics ICEH

Methodological note

Business confidence indicators (BCI) are based on biased or qualitative circumstantialeconomic surveys on establishments. This type of survey at any given time captures the opinion held by entrepreneurson the current and future situation of the activity of their business.

BCIs are highly relevant given that they foresee the evolution of the economies to which they refer. For Spain, a consensusmethod has been adopted developed by a work group made up of theNational Statistical Institute (INE), the Statistical Institute of Catalonia (Idescat) and other autonomous communities, taking two prestigious internationalindicators as a reference: Germany's IFO index and Japan's Tankan.

Based on this method, the INE and Idescat have signed a collaboration agreement establishing, as of 2013, the use and integrationof complementary samples for Catalonia: one, which is more reduced (little under a thousand establishments for Catalonia),coming from the state-wide operation carried out by the INE, and a larger one (some 3,000 establishments), in order to observethe results that Idescat has produced for some years with the collaboration of the chambers of commerce of Catalonia. Each quarter,Idescat undertakes to convey to the INE the sample from the Business Climate Survey, which it has produced in conjunction with the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce since 2008. The main objective is to obtain the opinion of the representatives of establishments located in Catalonia, from certain activity sectors, on a set of variables of an economic nature.

Thanks to the agreement, the business confidence indicators for Catalonia are harmonized with those of the State and thereforethe results of the Catalan economy can be compared with those of the economy of the entire State.

The variable used in calculating the harmonized business confidence index (HBCI) is the evolution of the business of theestablishment during the preceding quarter (status indicator) and for the following quarter (expectation indicator). This practiceis used both in the case of the Tankan and in the IFO, and it is one of the standard strategies included in the OECD guidelines.

The HBCI is constructed on the basis of Business confidence (BC), defined as the normalizedgeometric mean between the status and expectations indicators:

BC = √((Status+200)*(Expectations+200)) −200

BC can, therefore, oscillate between the values of −100 and +100. This figure is used to calculate an index using the BC for thefirst quarter of 2013 as a benchmark.

HBCI = ((BC+200)/(BC benchmark period +200)) * 100

Harmonized status indicator: Reflects the balance between the percentage of favourable andunfavourable responses for the ending quarter.

Harmonized expectations indicator: Reflects the balance between the percentage of favourableand unfavourable responses for the next quarter.

Balances may take values of between -100 (all informants have a negative perception of the current or future situation of theirbusiness) and +100 (all informants have a positive perception of the current or future situation of their business).

The HBCI is conducted quarterly and is calculated for the whole of Catalonia addressing different activity sectors: industry,construction, trade, hotels and transport, and other company services. The HBCI also takes into account the size of the establishment(less than 10 wage earners, from 10 to 49, from 50 to 199, from 200 to 999 and 1,000 or more wage earners), and chamber regions groupedinto the following categories:

  • Chamber of Barcelona (corresponds to the establishments located within the region of the Barcelona Official Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Shipping).
  • The rest of chambers of Barcelona (Manresa, Sabadell and Terrassa Official Chambers of Commerce and Industry).
  • Chambers of Girona (Girona, Palamós and Sant Feliu de Guíxols Official Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Shipping).
  • Chambers of Lleida (Lleida and Tàrrega Official Chambers of Commerce and Industry).
  • Chambers of Tarragona (Tarragona, Reus and Tortosa Official Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Shipping and Valls Official Chamber of Commerce and Industry).


No specific deseasonalization technique is applied.

Informant units are asked to answer the questionnaire without taking seasonal factors into consideration, including in the instructions for filling out the questionnaire the sentence "Taking into account the time of year".This is a commonly used practice in many indices.


To take the decision as to whether or not to weight the data when preparing the HBCI, the IFO and Tankan indiceswere used as a reference.

Each month the German IFO index gathers the opinion of German entrepreneursregarding the evolution of their businesses and short-term prospects. When calculating it, the information ofeach informant unit is weighted according to importance based on the number of employees.

However, theJapanese index, Tankan, is based on a quarterly survey of Japanesefirms, in which the response of each unit is worth the same (one vote), regardless of its size.

In the case of the HBCI, in order to decide upon the most suitable means of processing the data, Catalonia,together with other autonomous communities and the INE, performed simulations based on the information ofits own surveys. The simulations consisted of calculating the indicators that would be obtained taking two criteriainto account: weighting and elevating the responses and without weighting and elevating (Tankan). It was observed thatthe trend of the evolution of variables was the same in both scenarios. Therefore, it was agreed to use the Tankan methoddue to its simplicity of calculation (no weighting) and its advantages in the immediate integration of the state-wide andautonomous samples, as it avoids sample calibration and enables better organization and speed in the dissemination of results.Prior to calculating the indicators, the data of the Business Climate Survey are adjusted to the percentage distribution, by sectorand size, of the effective sample of the state operation within Catalonia.

The BCIs calculated using this method, thus harmonized, can coexist with other non-harmonized indicators drawn up in thisscope by the autonomous communities in order to preserve historical series, for example.