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New economic figures out Thursday

"No standstill" for the Swedish economy

Published torsdag 26 juli 2012 kl 15.02
"There is no full stop in Sweden's economy"
(4:55 min)
Robert Bergqvist at SEB keeps a coin from 1897 to maintain his "respect" for money. File photo: Scanpix

With countries around Europe reporting little or no economic growth, and some even falling back into recession, all eyes here in Sweden were on the latest batch of figures, out Thursday, and looking ahead to Monday's second quarter GDP figures.

Unemployment is up, but so is consumer confidence – and the trade gap has fallen, which may indicate strong exports. So what does this tell us about the state of the Swedish economy? Robert Bergqvist is chief economist at the Swedish high street bank SEB.

"The main reason for the slowdown is of course the uncertainy in the Eurozone, which affects exports," Bergqvist said. "What we are seeing right now is very much aligned with expectations. There is no full stop in Sweden's economy."

Thursday's figures indicate that consumer confidence is up, which Bergqvist attributes low interest rates, wage increases and solid public finances.

"The combination of fairly strong balance sheets, quite good real wage increases and expectations of lower interest rates – these are the things making Sweden's households and consumers less pessimistic about the future."

That, however, does not mean Sweden's GDP growth for the second quarter – due to be announced on Monday, 30 July – will match the strong growth seen at the start of the year.

"We had a very strong first quarter. We are not going to see that kind of strength. Around 0.3 or 0.4 percent is what I think it will be. The normal growth level would be 2 or 3 percent. So it's slower than usual, but we are not at a standstill right now," said Bergqvist.

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