Sweden’s economy grows more than expected during second quarter

Sweden's GDP grew more than expected during the second quarter of the year, according to preliminary figures.

Sweden's economy grows more than expected during second quarter
Shoppers in central Stockholm. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Swedish GDP grew 0.9 percent in the second quarter compared with the previous quarter, according to Statistics Sweden’s preliminary calculation. The average forecast among analysts was 0.7 percent, according to a Reuters survey.

Compared with the second quarter of 2020, growth was 10.0 percent, after adjustments due to the fact that this year the quarter had one working day more than last year.

“The growth rate compared with the previous year is the highest we have measured in our time series for Sweden’s GDP, which should be seen against the background that the economy a year ago was hit hard by the pandemic,” said Melker Loberg, a Statistics Sweden economist, in a statement.

Torbjörn Isaksson, chief analyst at Nordea, pointed out that the growth is well above the forecasts from Sweden’s central bank, the Riksbank, which forecast growth of just 0.4 percent compared with the first quarter and 8.8 per cent year-on-year. And he noted that GDP was two percent higher in June this year than before the crisis.

“Given that the [Covid-19] restrictions have been eased and the indicators look very bright in the coming months, it will look strong in the future as well,” he predicted.

In its preliminary assessments, Statistics Sweden does not provide details on what is driving the development. but according to Isaksson, several factors come into play.

“There is a lot of money in the economy. Interest rates are low and look set to be low for a long time to come, stock market prices are at record levels, households are borrowing money like never before and demand is strong,” he said, adding that growth for the year as a whole is likely to exceed forecasts from both banks like Nordea and the Riksbank.

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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.