Sweden’s Economy Grew In Q1 In Absence Of Lockdown

Sweden is winning the race among European nations to restore the economy from the coronavirus pandemic, according to data published on Friday (May 29), CNBC reported.

The Nordic country reported its gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of economic health, grew at an annual rate of 0.4 percent from January through March. 

Its growth may be the result of the nation’s decision not to impose a full lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19. 

So far, Sweden has reported 4,266 deaths and 35,727 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University. Those numbers reflect more infections and fatalities than all its neighbors combined, including Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland.

Sweden’s GDP grew a modest 0.1 percent in the first quarter, compared to the last quarter of 2019. A Reuters poll of economists had predicted the GDP would decline by 0.6 percent in Q1.

In April, the Riksbank, Sweden’s central bank, said the pandemic had damaged the country’s business and supply chains. It warned that companies would be hit hard and that many would likely lose their jobs over the coming months, CNBC reported.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research, a London-based think tank, said in a statement late last month that Sweden’s economy would shrink 7 percent this year and that the unemployment rate is expected to reach 10.2 percent. 

“While Sweden’s economy has fared better than the worst-affected countries, as a result of its comparatively light-touch lockdown, it is still set for a year to forget,” David Oxley, senior Europe economist at Capital Economics, a London economic research consultancy, said in a research note. “We expect the decline in GDP this year as a whole to be in a similar ballpark to that in Germany.”

Germany’s GDP fell at an annual rate of 2.3 percent in Q1. The German Statistical Office has predicted that Europe will experience a 10 percent dive in GDP for Q2 from April through June.

Another measure by the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union (EU), said the EU growth rate will contract by 7.4 percent this year, the worst economic shock since the Great Depression in the 1930s, the network reported.