Anders Borg (left) and OECD's Angel Gurria

Sweden's recovery is success story

Sweden received a glowing report on Thursday from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development which said that this Nordic nation's economy was in a robust state having grown by 5.2 percent last year and is "as strong now as Pippi Longstocking."

The OECD described Sweden's swift recovery out of recession as a success story and inspiration to all, but there was a warning about the danger of complacency and the possible effects of external factors beyond Sweden's control.

The comparison to the strength of Astrid Lindgren's mythical hero was not the only lively description of this country's recent economic performance by the OECD's general secretary Angel Gurria. Sweden was called an "island of prosperity in very uncertain waters " and the organisation's assessment of GDP growth of 5.2 percent last year with growth of 3.9 percent this year and 3.4 percent in 2012 was even stronger than many had predicted here.

The OECD in its report said that Sweden's recession had been short and it bounced back strongly. It said a key reason why Sweden performed so well in the face of this major shock was that it had learned the right lessons from the banking crisis of the early 1990s. It responded to the crisis by setting up strong economic institutions and fundamentals. 

There were criticisms however; the OECD's general director said that having the Swedish Financial Authority, Sweden's central bank, the Riksbank, and the National Debt Office all involved in financial supervision was problematical with the delineation of responsibility not always clear.

There was also a warning that despite expectations of continued rapid growth, Sweden as a small country is vulnerable to external factors beyond its control, such as the fluctuating euro.

Sweden's Finance Minister said there would be no room for complacency.

"We should remember that most countries that have been pointed out as an example have sooner or later run into some problems, we can remember what has been said about Ireland over recent years for instance. I think we should be very cautious when going forward, we still have very important tasks when it comes to labour market reform and to safeguarding the financial stability in the Swedish economy," Borg said.

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