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Strong output heralds record growth

A strong month of German industrial activity in October erased a decline in September and underpinned prospects for record national economic growth in 2010, official data showed on Wednesday.

Strong output heralds record growth
Photo: DPA

The German figures also provided more evidence of an emerging two-speed recovery across the 16-nation eurozone, however.

The Economy Ministry reported an estimated 2.9 percent monthly leap in output and said that while an upward trend seen earlier this year had slowed, it was still on track.

“The trend higher has slowed, as expected, from a strong first half, but it remains solid,” a ministry statement said as the economy pursued a recovery from its worst post-war recession in 2008-2009.

Officials revised the decline in September industrial production to 1.0 percent from an initial estimate of 0.8 percent.

The news of October’s rebound came after Europe’s biggest economy reported a monthly drop of 1.1 percent in October exports, allowing economists to maintain forecasts for a solid end to the year.

“We should not count our chickens before they are hatched but these numbers promise another smashing quarter,” ING senior economist Carsten Brzeski said.

With Germany already benefiting from a remarkable recovery in the first half of the year, the central bank expects full-year growth of 3.6 percent, which would mark the biggest jump since the country was reunified in 1990.

While the economies of Germany and other core eurozone countries are chugging ahead, partners on the bloc’s periphery – notably Portugal, Spain, Greece and Ireland – are struggling with debt and deficit crises that have stymied growth.

Germany has blocked proposals for common eurozone bonds to provide cheaper funding for members with massive public deficits and debt, and on Wednesday, Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxembourg prime minister, attacked Berlin for acting in an “un-European” manner.

A breakdown of the German ministry data showed that production of capital goods, those used to produce finished products, soared by 4.6 percent on the month, while intermediate goods posted a gain of 2.9 percent.

Output of finished consumer goods was up by a more modest 0.8 percent. Production in the energy sector fell by 0.3 percent, but it was a good month for construction, where activity expanded by 1.3 percent.

All of the main German industrial sectors had declined in September, but a two-month calculation designed to smooth out the data showed that output gained 1.1 percent in September and October compared with July-August.

In October, German industrial orders also rose 1.6 percent on the month, official data showed on Tuesday, a further positive sign for the last quarter of 2010.

“The implications for GDP (gross domestic product) growth in the fourth quarter are clearly positive,” Capital Economics chief European economist Jonathan Loynes said.

AFP/mry

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ECONOMY

‘Tougher times’: Sweden’s economy to slow next year

Consumers in Sweden are set to crimp spending over the rest of the year, pushing the country into an economic slowdown, Sweden's official economic forecaster has warned in its latest prognosis.

'Tougher times': Sweden's economy to slow next year

A combination of record high energy prices over the winter, rising interest rates, and inflation at around 10 percent, is set to hit household spending power over the autumn and winter, leading to lower sales for businesses and dragging economic growth down to just 0.5 percent next year. This is down from the 1.2 percent the institute had forecast for 2023 in its spring forecast. 

“I don’t want to be alarmist,” Ylva Hedén Westerdahl, forecasting head at the Swedish National Institute of Economic Research, said at a press conference announcing the new forecast. “We don’t expect the sort of economic slowdown that we saw during the financial crisis or the pandemic, where unemployment rose much more. But having said that, people who don’t have a job will find it tougher to enter the labour market.” 

She said that a shortage of gas in Europe over the winter, will push electricity prices in Sweden to twice the levels seen last winter, while the core interest rate set by Sweden’s Riksbank is set to rise to two percent. 

As a result, Sweden’s unemployment rate will rise slightly to 7.8 percent next year, from 7.7 percent in 2022, which is 0.3 percentage points higher than the institute had previously forecast. 

On the plus side, Westerdahl said that she expected the Riksbank’s increases in interest rates this year and next year would succeed in getting inflation rates in Sweden under control. 

“We expect a steep decline in inflation which is going to return to below two percent by the end of 2023,” she said. “That depends on whether electricity prices fall after the winter, but even other prices are not going to rise as quickly.” 

After the press conference, Sweden’s finance minister, Mikael Damberg, said he broadly agreed with the prognosis. 

“I’ve said previously that we are on the way into tougher times, and that is what the institute confirms,” he told Sweden’s state broadcaster SVT. “There’s somewhat higher growth this year, at the same time as fairly high inflation which will hit many households and make it tougher to live.”

Damberg called on Sweden’s political parties to avoid making high-spending promises in the election campaign, warning that these risked driving up inflation. 

“What’s important in this situation is that we don’t get irresponsible when it comes to economic policy,” he said. “Because when parties make promises left, right and centre, it risks driving up inflation and interest rates even more, so Swedish households have an even tougher time. Right now, it’s important to prioritise.” 

 The call 

Sverige är på väg mot lågkonjunktur enligt Konjunkturinstitutets (KI) senaste prognos. Enligt finansminster Mikael Damberg (S) är det därför viktigt att Sverige sköter sin ekonomi ansvarsfullt och vågar prioritera.

– Jag tror att alla partier behöver vara lite återhållsamma och inte lova för mycket, säger han.

Mikael Damberg tycker att KI tecknar en realistisk bild av Sveriges ekonomiska verklighet.

– Jag har sagt tidigare att vi går mot tuffare tider och det är väl det som KI bekräftar. Något högre tillväxt i år men sämre tillväxtförutsättningar nästa år samt fortsatt ganska hög inflation som slår mot många hushåll och gör det tuffare att leva, säger han.

Och vad vill regeringen göra åt det?

– Det är viktigt att vi i det här läget inte är ansvarslösa i den ekonomiska politiken. För när partier lovar vitt och brett till allt riskerar vi att driva upp inflationen, öka räntan ytterligare och svenska hushåll får det svårare. Nu måste man våga prioritera.

Se intervjun med Damberg om konjunkturläget klippet ovan.

“Electricity prices are going to be twice as high as last winter,” said 

Elpriserna kommer att bli dubbelt så höga som förra vintern, säger Ylva Hedén Westerdahl, chef för Konjunkturinstitutets prognosavdelning, på en pressträff.
Den lågkonjunktur som KI ser framför sig kallar hon trots det för en mjuklandning. Den handlar främst om att människor kommer att ha mindre pengar att konsumera.

“Brist på gas i Europa gör att energipriserna ser ut att bli rekordhöga under vintern”, skriver KI, och ser att inflationen kommer att närma sig 10 procent.

Deras prognos för styrräntan är att den ligger på 2 procent vid årsslutet, vilket gör att inflationen faller tillbaka snabbt under nästa år och Riksbanken låter då räntan ligga still.

KI tillägger att de offentliga finanserna är fortsatt starka och de bedömer att det finns ett budgetutrymme på runt 120 miljarder kronor för de kommande fyra åren.

Vad gäller BNP spår KI en blygsam tillväxt på 0,5 procent nästa år – en nedskrivning från tidigare 1,2 procent.

Prognosen för arbetslösheten under 2023 är 7,8 procent, 0,3 procentenheter högre än tidigare prognos.

Fredrik Fahlman/TT
Johanna Ekström/TT

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