Sweden's economy likely won't benefit from its decision to avoid a lockdown, analysts say
- Sweden is unlikely to avoid the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, even as it has avoided an official lockdown, analysts told the Financial Times.
- While bars, restaurants, and shops are still open, people have been asked to voluntarily practice social distancing and work from home if possible.
- One business owner told the Financial Times that when people started becoming aware of the virus, he quickly lost 30% of his business.
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Even though Sweden has chosen to avoid an official lockdown, keeping bars and restaurants open - and suffering a higher death toll than in neighbouring countries - the country is unlikely to avoid the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, analysts told the Financial Times.
"It is too early to say that we would do better than others," Christina Nyman, a former official at Riksbank, Sweden's national bank, told the Financial Times. "In the end, we think Sweden will end up more or less the same."
David Oxley, a senior economist at Capital Economics, told the newspaper that economic "activity in Sweden is grim, maybe not as grim as elsewhere, but it is still unprecedented declines."
Sweden has reported more than 3,500 deaths from the coronavirus. That number pales in comparison to the tens of thousands of deaths in the US, but Sweden's smaller population of just over 10 million makes the country's death rate one of the highest.
While companies in Sweden, like the automotive manufacturer Volvo, have been hit hard as their global supply chains are disrupted, the economic impact of the pandemic in Sweden, with its robust welfare system, will likely look differently than in countries like the US.
Sweden's lead epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, said last week that he didn't anticipate the high death rate.
"We never really calculated with a high death toll initially, I must say," he said. "We calculated on more people being sick, but the death toll really came as a surprise to us."
The owner of a record shop in Stockholm told the Financial Times that while his store remained open, business dropped quickly by 30%. "For a couple of months, it will work. But after that it will be very, very tough," the owner, Micke Englund, told the paper.
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