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BUDGET

Sweden boasts hefty budget surplus for 2011

Sweden’s national debt office (Riksgälden) stated on Tuesday that the country’s budget surplus from 2011 stood at 68 billion kronor ($9.85 billion).

“Despite increased concerns about the debt situation in the world and an expected slowdown in the economy during the second half, Swedish government finances developed strongly in 2011,” the debt office said in a statement.

While Sweden, with its heavily export reliant economy was hard-hit during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, its recovery “continued to be strong in 2011, which generated higher tax income,” the office said.

The debt office pointed out that the government during the year had also sold off shares worth 23 billion kronor in the Nordic region’s biggest bank, Nordea, and in Swedish-Finnish telecom giant Telia Sonera.

Sweden’s central government debt meanwhile stood at 1,108 billion kronor at the end of 2011, which corresponds to 32 percent of the non-euro-member’s gross domestic product (GDP), far below the 60-percent level allowed within the eurozone.

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ECONOMY

Swedish economy to grind to a halt as interest rates kick in

Sweden faces an economic slump next year that will see economic growth grind to a complete stop, Sweden's official government economics forecaster, has warned.

Swedish economy to grind to a halt as interest rates kick in

Sweden’s National Institute of Economic Research, which is tasked with tracking the business cycle for the Swedish government, warned in its quarterly forecast on Wednesday that greater than expected energy prices, interest rate rises, and stubborn inflation rates, Sweden was facing a significant downturn. 

The institute has shaved 1.6 percentage points off its forecast for growth in 2023, leaving the economy at a standstill, contracting -0.1 percent over the year. 

The institute now expects unemployment of 7.7 percent in 2023, up from a forecast of 7.5 percent given when in its last forecast in June.

“We can see that households are already starting to reign in their consumption,” said Ylva Hedén Westerdahl, the institute’s head of forecasting, saying this was happening “a little earlier than we had thought”. 

“We thought this would have happened when electricity bills went up, and interest rates went up a little more,” she continued. 

The bank expects household consumption to contract in 2023, something that she said was “quite unusual” and had not happened since Sweden’s 1990s economic crisis, apart from in the immediate aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

This was partly down to a five percent reduction in real salaries in Sweden in 2022, taking into account inflation, which the institute expects to be followed by a further two percent fall in real salaries in 2023. 

If the incoming Moderate-led government goes ahead with plans to reimburse consumers for high power prices, however, this would counterbalance the impact of inflation, leaving Swedish households’ purchasing power unchanged. 

The institute said it expected inflation to average 7.7 percent this year and 4.6 percent in 2023, both higher than it had forecast earlier.

Sweden’s Riksbank central bank this month hike its key interest rate by a full percentage point, after inflation hit 9 percent in August, the biggest single hike since the 1990s. 

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