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ECONOMY

Östros to fight for Swedish labour laws at EU meeting

The Swedish government will defend the country’s labour laws when EU trade ministers meet this week week to tackle the controversial EU service directive, Industry and Trade Minister Thomas Östros told the Riksdag.

This developed as the Swedish builders union (Byggnads) staged a blockade in Vaxholm to protest the refusal of a Latvian construction firm hiring out workers to sign a collective bargaining agreement as demanded by the local union.

The carpenters are paid 13,700 in monthly wages plus free meals and lodging. Byggnads want the wage hiked to a bit above SKr 20,000 monthly.

LO leader ‘flirting’ with non-Socialist bloc

Wanja Lundby-Wedin, president of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) wants the Social Democrat-led government to strike deals with the opposition bloc on key issues, reported DI.

The LO leader finds it unfortunate that bloc politics in Sweden has taken a firmer hold, with the non-Socialists forming an election alliance and the government wooing the Greens. This, Lundby-Wedin asserts, hinders cross-party agreements that she considers necessary to resolve crucial national issues such as social insurance reforms.

“On such important issues a broader consensus is needed if we are to have long-term solutions,” she said.

Nuder unfazed by weak dollar

The make-up of Swedish exports, with telecom and raw material goods in great demand, will help the major industries cope with the effects of a weaker dollar, Finance Minister Pär Nuder said. He added that Swedish exporters engage in hedging activity, which cushions the impact of a stronger krona. According to Nuder, the dollar has weakened versus the krona by 40 per cent since 2001, but that despite this, Swedish exporters have been successful over this period.

Gloomy jobs data

New jobs are slow in coming, according to the October unemployment data from Statistics Sweden that show the number of employed in Sweden has declined by 0.9 per cent to 73 per cent in October year-on-year. In terms of those employed in the labour force, the corresponding figure is 76.8 per cent.

Barnevik makes comeback

Percy Barnevik is back on the Swedish scene three years after a hasty exist from the business sector in the wake of the ABB pension scandal. Barnevik resurfaced yesterday at a seminar that was also attended by Industry and Trade Minister Thomas Östros.

At the seminar on Sweden’s role and competitiveness in a broader EU, Barnevik said that the fastest economic growth will occur in the east and thus it is crucial to be in that market and reap its benefits. He said Sweden has the industry well suited to Eastern Europe – appliances and cars, for instance, are goods that are likely to enjoy strong demand in that market.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Dagens Industri

Supplied by BECK TRANSLATIONS.

With an experienced team of in-house translators, Beck specialises in translating from Swedish into English in such areas as finance and economics, marketing and advertising, biotechnology, the environment, quality, and personnel & administration.

ECONOMY

‘Tougher times’: Sweden’s economy to slow next year

Consumers in Sweden are set to crimp spending over the rest of the year, pushing the country into an economic slowdown, Sweden's official economic forecaster has warned in its latest prognosis.

'Tougher times': Sweden's economy to slow next year

A combination of record high energy prices over the winter, rising interest rates, and inflation at around 10 percent, is set to hit household spending power over the autumn and winter, leading to lower sales for businesses and dragging economic growth down to just 0.5 percent next year. This is down from the 1.2 percent the institute had forecast for 2023 in its spring forecast. 

“I don’t want to be alarmist,” Ylva Hedén Westerdahl, forecasting head at the Swedish National Institute of Economic Research, said at a press conference announcing the new forecast. “We don’t expect the sort of economic slowdown that we saw during the financial crisis or the pandemic, where unemployment rose much more. But having said that, people who don’t have a job will find it tougher to enter the labour market.” 

She said that a shortage of gas in Europe over the winter, will push electricity prices in Sweden to twice the levels seen last winter, while the core interest rate set by Sweden’s Riksbank is set to rise to two percent. 

As a result, Sweden’s unemployment rate will rise slightly to 7.8 percent next year, from 7.7 percent in 2022, which is 0.3 percentage points higher than the institute had previously forecast. 

On the plus side, Westerdahl said that she expected the Riksbank’s increases in interest rates this year and next year would succeed in getting inflation rates in Sweden under control. 

“We expect a steep decline in inflation which is going to return to below two percent by the end of 2023,” she said. “That depends on whether electricity prices fall after the winter, but even other prices are not going to rise as quickly.” 

After the press conference, Sweden’s finance minister, Mikael Damberg, said he broadly agreed with the prognosis. 

“I’ve said previously that we are on the way into tougher times, and that is what the institute confirms,” he told Sweden’s state broadcaster SVT. “There’s somewhat higher growth this year, at the same time as fairly high inflation which will hit many households and make it tougher to live.”

Damberg called on Sweden’s political parties to avoid making high-spending promises in the election campaign, warning that these risked driving up inflation. 

“What’s important in this situation is that we don’t get irresponsible when it comes to economic policy,” he said. “Because when parties make promises left, right and centre, it risks driving up inflation and interest rates even more, so Swedish households have an even tougher time. Right now, it’s important to prioritise.” 

 The call 

Sverige är på väg mot lågkonjunktur enligt Konjunkturinstitutets (KI) senaste prognos. Enligt finansminster Mikael Damberg (S) är det därför viktigt att Sverige sköter sin ekonomi ansvarsfullt och vågar prioritera.

– Jag tror att alla partier behöver vara lite återhållsamma och inte lova för mycket, säger han.

Mikael Damberg tycker att KI tecknar en realistisk bild av Sveriges ekonomiska verklighet.

– Jag har sagt tidigare att vi går mot tuffare tider och det är väl det som KI bekräftar. Något högre tillväxt i år men sämre tillväxtförutsättningar nästa år samt fortsatt ganska hög inflation som slår mot många hushåll och gör det tuffare att leva, säger han.

Och vad vill regeringen göra åt det?

– Det är viktigt att vi i det här läget inte är ansvarslösa i den ekonomiska politiken. För när partier lovar vitt och brett till allt riskerar vi att driva upp inflationen, öka räntan ytterligare och svenska hushåll får det svårare. Nu måste man våga prioritera.

Se intervjun med Damberg om konjunkturläget klippet ovan.

“Electricity prices are going to be twice as high as last winter,” said 

Elpriserna kommer att bli dubbelt så höga som förra vintern, säger Ylva Hedén Westerdahl, chef för Konjunkturinstitutets prognosavdelning, på en pressträff.
Den lågkonjunktur som KI ser framför sig kallar hon trots det för en mjuklandning. Den handlar främst om att människor kommer att ha mindre pengar att konsumera.

“Brist på gas i Europa gör att energipriserna ser ut att bli rekordhöga under vintern”, skriver KI, och ser att inflationen kommer att närma sig 10 procent.

Deras prognos för styrräntan är att den ligger på 2 procent vid årsslutet, vilket gör att inflationen faller tillbaka snabbt under nästa år och Riksbanken låter då räntan ligga still.

KI tillägger att de offentliga finanserna är fortsatt starka och de bedömer att det finns ett budgetutrymme på runt 120 miljarder kronor för de kommande fyra åren.

Vad gäller BNP spår KI en blygsam tillväxt på 0,5 procent nästa år – en nedskrivning från tidigare 1,2 procent.

Prognosen för arbetslösheten under 2023 är 7,8 procent, 0,3 procentenheter högre än tidigare prognos.

Fredrik Fahlman/TT
Johanna Ekström/TT

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