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DEBT

Swedes see net worth slashed

Swedish households have become 400 billion kronor ($66 billion) poorer in the year's first three months.

According to a new report by SEB bank, this represents a dramatic 6 percent drop in Swedish households’ net worth. In a press statement, SEB economist Gunilla Nyström put this down to a dwindling stock market and increased mortgages and loans.

“It is likely that households are starting to use up their savings in order to keep up with their consumption needs”.

This would explain why household net savings were at a record minus 27 billion kronor for the quarter and debt is at a record high since 1996. Debt has risen by 38 billion kronor which represents a rise of 10 percent in the last 12 months alone.

Nyström is hopeful that Swedes will keep an eye on their wallets for now though. “What with a cooler housing market and higher interest rates, it is likely that households will be more careful about taking further loans”.

Despite the downward trend, SEB’s economist underlined that Swedish households’ assets are in good shape, considering that they are still four times the debt figures.

STUDENTS

Thousands of students wait for loans

Almost 4,000 students have waited for four weeks for payment from Sweden's student grants and loans body CSN, which has been so flooded with calls that the agency simply turned off its telephones.

Thousands of students wait for loans

CSN has hit crisis mode. With 3,932 Swedish students without a payment for more than a month, the authority disconnected its telephones on Thursday due to the influx of phone calls, and asked its staff concentrate on payments on a case-by-case approach.

Meanwhile, students are finding other means to pay their bills.

“I had to borrow money from my relatives so I could pay the rent – I don’t want to lose my apartment,” 29-year-old Stockholm student Joshua Lotz told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper (DN).

He hasn’t received his loan installment since the middle of September, and was counting on a 9,000 kronor ($1,400) pay packet by now.

“It’s worse when it comes to having money for food, it’s been a lot of pasta and crisp bread this week.”

This time of year – at the beginning of the university term – always prompts particularly heavy traffic for CSN, but recent statistics were far worse than the same time last year, when only around 700 students were left waiting for their cash.

“It’s been many years since we’ve turned off the phones like this. It’s serious that so many are waiting for their money,” CSN spokesman Klas Elfving told DN.

“Our most important mission right now is to pay the students quickly, and that’s why we’re resorting to this method.”

TT/The Local/og

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