Swedish interest rates touch record lows

Swedish interest rates are touching new record lows while global economic growth is at its highest peak in 30 years, reported DI, adding that the 10-year long-term interest rate plunged to 3.86 per cent last Friday, its lowest level to date. The sharp fall in interest rates has sparked a debate among analysts as to whether this indicates the emergence of another financial bubble or a throwback to the 60s.

“The bond market prices in such a manner indicate that inflation is obliterated for good,” says Henrik Mitelman, chief strategist at SEB Merchant Banking.

Record low rates are the bond market’s equivalent of the equity market’s all-time high, wrote DI. The continued fall in interest rates has fuelled deflation fears in the market.

Ericsson rival Huawei enters Sweden

Ericsson’s nightmare of a rival, Chinese telecom vendor Huawei, has received the green light to set up business in Sweden – much to the chagrin of the Swedish telecom giant. However, operators Tele2 and Telia welcome the entry of the new, cheaper alternative to Ericsson and Nokia. Huawei has doubled its sales in two years. Its biggest competitive edge? Low prices.

Skanska ejected from US project…

Skanska misses out on billions of revenue in the US after getting blamed for a US project becoming too costly. It is the project involving a court complex that prompted the political leadership of Jacksonville to fire Skanska and architecture firm Cannon. In a letter to the mayor of Jacksonville, Cannon accuses Skanska for a series of costly mistakes while the project was underway.

Skanska dismissed the charges, saying that the price tag became higher than what the customer had initially expected partly because the client chose costly solutions and decided to expand the space to be constructed. Skanska’s information director also blamed higher raw material costs, such as the hike in steel prices, for the corresponding increase in total expenditure.

…but wins two contracts in the UK

Skanska won two telecom contracts in the UK worth a total of roughly 1.3 billion crowns. The contracts are included in the order intake for the fourth quarter of 2004.

Ikea’s Moscow inauguration fizzles out

Ikea’s plan to open a new shopping mall outside Moscow fizzled out Friday, fanning speculation that local authorities were out to collect bribes from the Swedish furniture chain.

3 wins new customers in Sweden

Mobile operator 3’s ‘zero tax’ marketing gimmick has paid off. The content provider, which is partly owned by Investor, now has close to 200,000 customers in Sweden, or about 85 per cent of all 3G subscriptions in the country. Within a year the company is expected to increase the speed of its 3G network considerably.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Dagens Industri


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‘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