Sweden’s GDP up 3.5 percent

Swedish authorities issued a downward revision Tuesday to their growth estimate for the second quarter, when the economy is now seen to have expanded 0.9 percent over three months rather than 1.0 percent.

However the outlook remains rosy, as compared to the first quarter the economy continued to expand. First quarter growth came to 0.6 percent from the the previous three months.

The Swedish statistics office (SCB) said the growth was driven by unadjusted capital investments, which increased by 9.8 percent, and household consumption which grew by 2.7 percent.

The SCB also said that compared with the second quarter of 2006 growth came to 3.5 percent in the April-June period this year, against 3.0 percent in the first quarter.

Public spending increased by 1.9 percent, while exports grew by 5.5 percent and imports by 7.5 percent.

“The figures are almost the same as the preliminary outcome. It’s a small disappointment though I was looking for a small upward revision,” Håkan Frisén, chief economist at the Swedish bank SEB said.

“Looking at the big picture the Swedish economy continues to grow quite rapidly, although somewhat slower compared to 2006,” he said, adding: “We can already see some impact from the slowdown in the US economy in export figures”.

Alexis Garatti, an economist with Ixis asset management said that while in the past growth in the economy had been underpinned by exports, momentum was now down to internal demand.

He said that Sweden was now a special case in Europe, with strong growth and optimstic forecasts.

Earlier in September Sweden’s central bank raised its key interest rate to counter inflationary pressures, despite concern about the impact of the US housing crisis that has shaken financial markets.

Garatti warned that in the medium term Sweden was vulnerable to the turmoil in the world economy.

Economists forecast growth of between 3.4 percent and 3.5 percent for 2007, against 4.2 percent in 2006 and 2.9 percent in 2005.


Swedish bank’s IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

A technical problem at Sweden's Swedbank on Thursday night gave customers a nasty surprise, with their account balances inexplicably going negative, payments impossible, and Swish payments no longer working.

Swedish bank's IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

By 11.30pm, more than 2,000 Swedbank customers had reported the fault to the site Downdetector, and the problem was still not solved by 17.00pm on Friday. 

“We have an ongoing IT disruption where certain customers see an incorrect balance on their accounts,” a message on the bank’s app read. “The reason is a planned update to our internal systems which went wrong. We apologise, of course, for that and are working as quickly as possible to fix the problem.” 

The Swish payment service has also been affected, with the service, which is owned collectively by Swedish banks, reporting on its site that there was a “technical disruption at Swedbank and Sparbank which might affect Swish payments from these banks”. 

Some Swedbank customers posted their negative account balances on Twitter, expressing shock at the incorrect figures. 

The disruption comes at the worst possible time for many Swedes. Many people are paid on the 25th of the month, meaning this Friday marks the start of the payday weekend. Many will have also scheduled their bill payments for this Friday. 

Marko Saric from Malmö saw his account balance drop by 1.2 million kronor, going half a million kronor into the red. 

“It’s just totally crazy,” he told SVT. “We were going to go out and shop for the weekend. It’s lovely weather and the kids want to go out, but we can’t use our card. We’ve got no cash. Everything is in the bank.” 

“You’re just completely blocked. Colleagues need to make emergency food parcels for you. It’s just crazy that something like this should happen.” 

In its statement, the bank assured customers that their money was “secure”, and that the bank still had the correct information on what their account balance should be. 

“Customers who feel that they have suffered economic damage as a result of the disruption should contact the bank,” the message said.