Sweden earns praise for public finances

Ratings agency Fitch praised Sweden on Friday for its handling of the financial crisis as the country retained its AAA long-term foreign currency debt rating.

“Sweden’s public finances have been resilient in the face of a 5.0 percent real contraction of the economy in 2009, and together with the high savings rate, reflected in the large current account surplus, are key strengths underpinning the sovereign ratings,” Eral Yilmaz, a director in Fitch’s sovereign group, said in a statement.

The agency also praised Sweden’s large banking sector, saying it “has not had to turn to the sovereign for any notable capital support despite its significant exposure to the Baltic countries.”

Fitch added Sweden’s government deficit of 1.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), unemployment and value added tax (VAT) revenue beat its expectations.

Sweden’s economy, which was hard-hit by the global financial crisis but which emerged from recession in the second quarter of 2009, has in recent months been described as a rare bright spot in beleaguered Europe.

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