FT ranks Borg fourth of EU financial chiefs

Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg came in fourth among a ranking of 19 European finance ministers published by the Financial Times (FT) newspaper on Monday.

FT ranks Borg fourth of EU financial chiefs

The newspaper used three criteria to determine the rankings: political influence, economic situation by country — including unemployment, and credibility among surrounding countries in terms of confidence in each country’s long-term finances.

Germany’s Wolfgang Schäuble topped the list, followed by Poland’s Jacek Rostowski and France’s Christine Lagarde. Borg ranked third in the political category, eighth in the economic tally and seventh for credibility.

“Anders Borg has made Sweden the poster child for fiscal prudence, as healthy fiscal balances have helped make his economy one of Europe’s fastest growing,” Marco Annunziata, chief economist at Italian bank UniCredit, told the FT.

He also received top marks from SEB Group chief economist Robert Bergqvist, who pointed out that Sweden’s economy is expected to grow by 5 percent this year, while government debt is only 40 percent of GDP and falling.

However, Bergqvist also credited Sweden’s current strength and Borg’s successes in part to economic policies implemented by former Swedish prime minister Göran Persson, who served as finance minister from 1994 to 1996.

Borg also ranked fourth in 2008 and 2009, while Sweden was not included in the rankings in 2006 and 2007. Irish financial minister Brian Lenihan came in last, a sharp drop from the top of the rankings enjoyed by then-Irish finance minister Brian Cowen in 2006, the current prime minister (Taoiseach) of the country.

EU states that were not included in the survey included Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania and Slovenia.

Separately, Lars Calmfors, chairman of the Swedish Fiscal Policy Council (Finanspolitiska Rådet), took a swipe at Borg in an open letter published in the Financial Times on Monday.

He compared Borg’s threat of cuts for the council’s budget to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s decision to dissolve a similar council when criticism became too uncomfortable.

Calmfors expressed his criticisms in an open letter that was also signed by his British colleague Robert Chote, chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility, and his Dutch counterpart Coen Teulings, director of the Central Planning Bureau.

The letter expressed the need for Hungary’s fiscal council to remain independent.

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Copenhagen, Stockholm given dismal rankings in expat city survey

Distant locals and a difficult housing market are among the factors resulting in a poor ranking for Scandinavian capitals in a survey on life for internationals in major cities.

Copenhagen, Stockholm given dismal rankings in expat city survey
Copenhagen and Stockholm. Composite: TunedIn61, mdurinik/Depositphotos

Copenhagen was ranked 54th and Stockholm 69th overall in the Expat City Ranking, based on a survey conducted by InterNations, a worldwide community for expats.

The Danish and Swedish capitals both ranked in the bottom 10 for finance and housing in the list of 72 cities, placing 63rd and 71st respectively.

Although Copenhagen in particular fared far better in the work-life balance category, rating in 1st place while Stockholm was 24th, that was not enough to save the overall disappointing ranking for the two cities.

Difficulty in settling as a newcomer was a further element of the survey in which the two cities did poorly: Copenhagen was found to be 61st and Stockholm 69th most difficult city in which to settle.

The ranking, based on survey responses from 18,000 people living and working abroad, is “one of the most extensive expat studies in the world”, InterNations wrote in a press release issued with the publication of the results.

Graphic: InterNations

The survey ranks the 72 cities by a variety of factors including quality of urban living, getting settled, urban work life, and finance and housing.

The top ten cities on the 2018 ranking are Taipei, Singapore, Manama, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Aachen, Prague, Madrid and Muscat.

With its 54th place overall, Copenhagen landed in the top ten in for urban work life and the bottom ten for finance and housing.

Quality of life and work-life balance were both rated highly by respondents: more than four in five respondents (84 percent) were satisfied with this aspect of life abroad (compared to 61 percent globally). Almost half (47 percent) said it could ‘not be any better’ (compared to 20 percent globally).

The same is true for working hours, with Copenhagen placing second worldwide, beaten only by German city Aachen. More than four in five expats in the Danish capital (83 percent) rate their working hours positively, compared to 62 percent worldwide.

READ ALSO: Denmark tops EU survey on work-life balance

Copenhagen boasts the highest job security out of the Nordic cities included in the ranking: 67 percent of expats are happy with this factor, followed by Stockholm (62 percent) and Helsinki (61 percent).

Copenhagen is the best Nordic city for income in relation to living expenses, although it ranks only 43rd out of 72 cities worldwide for this factor. In fact, more than three in five expats (62 percent) are unhappy with the local cost of living, compared to a global average of 37 percent.

Not a single respondent said that it was ‘very easy’ for expats to find housing in Copenhagen (18 percent globally), while more than two in five (41 percent) consider it extremely hard (11 percent globally).

Copenhagen ranks 68th worldwide for housing, only ahead of Geneva, Munich, Dublin and Stockholm.

The Swedish capital is the worst-rated of the three Nordic cities included in the survey and was placed 69th overall, ahead of only three other cities worldwide: Rome, Jeddah and Riyadh.

Stockholm shows a particularly poor performance for getting settled (69th) and finance and housing (71st). More than four in five respondents (81 percent) said that housing is not affordable in Stockholm, compared to 44 percent globally.

Continuing a trend for housing to impact the overall ranking, 79 percent said it was not easy to find housing in Stockholm (compared to 30 percent globally).

The majority of expats in Stockholm (65 percent) also rated the local cost of living negatively (compared to 37 percent globally).

READ ALSO: How much does it cost to rent in Sweden?

When it comes to urban work life, respondents in Stockholm are happy with their working hours: seven in ten (70 percent) rate this positively, compared to 62 percent globally. However, Stockholm is still the worst-rated Nordic city for this factor (15th), ranking behind Copenhagen (2nd) and Helsinki (5th).

While expats are happy with their working hours, they report a lack of socializing and leisure activities to pursue in their free time: more than two in five (41 percent) rate them negatively, compared to less than one in five globally (19 percent). In fact, just 32 percent of expats in Stockholm are happy with their social life, compared to 57 percent globally.

This might be due to the lack of friendliness perceived amongst Stockholmers: the Swedish capital ranks 71st for this aspect of life abroad, outperforming only Riyadh.

When it comes to the quality of urban living, expats are not only dissatisfied with the leisure options but also with the weather in Stockholm: less than one-quarter (24 percent) rate the local climate and weather positively, compared to more than half of internationals globally (55 percent). On the bright side, Stockholm comes in second place for the quality of its urban environment.

In total, the responses used for the city ranking represent 11,966 people living as foreign citizens living in 55 countries. For a city to be featured in the Expat City Ranking 2018, a sample size of at least 45 survey participants per city was required; 72 cities in 47 different countries made this threshold in 2018.

READ ALSO: Sweden's housing shortage an obstacle to integration: report