Swedish economy continues to sputter

Swedish economic growth failed to meet expectations in the third quarter of 2013, reaching a meager 0.1 percent compared to the previous quarter, new figures reveal. But the possible effects on the repo rate remain unclear.

Swedish economy continues to sputter

Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast quarterly GDP growth of 0.2 percent, while Reuters' survey revealed analysts expected growth of 0.5 percent.

Compared to the third quarter of 2012, the Swedish economy expanded by 0.3 percent, below the 0.4 percent forecast by analysts surveyed by Reuters.

While consumer spending increased by 2.1 percent, and government spending rose by 1.9 percent, growth figures were dragged down by inventory reductions, which fell by 1.6 percent.

Exports were also down by 1.6 percent, while imports dropped by 2.2 percent.

The figures released by Statistics Sweden on Friday did include some reason for hope however, as the agency upwardly revised its previous figures for economic growth by 0.5 percent in the second quarter and 0.3 percent in the first quarter.

Despite the less-than stellar growth statistics, economists in Sweden said the details of the report were more encouraging than the headline figure.

"Aspects of the GDP indicate a healthy evolution of the internal economy," Nordea economist Annika Winsth wrote on Twitter.

Speaking with the TT news agency, she called the figures "okay", saying they likely mean Sweden's central bank will leave Sweden's benchmark interest rate, the repo rate, unchanged when it convenes again in December.

However, SEB economist Olle Holmgren said economic stagnation and low inflation meant the Riksbank would likely cut rates from today's 1 percent to 0.75 percent.

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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.