United Kingdom

Lockdown-free Sweden's GDP is now forecast to shrink by just 6% in 2020 - less than the UK

Sweden is expected to see it's economy shrink around six per cent this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, while locked-down UK is set to take a much larger blow of 11.5 per cent.  

Sweden's Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson today announced that the country - one of the few to not to opt for a hard lockdown to prevent the spread of covid-19 - expects a smaller shrink in its GDP in 2020 than first forecast. 

Unlike most other western European countries Sweden has employed a different strategy to deal with the pandemic, mostly based on voluntary measures regarding social distancing and basic hygiene.

Meanwhile a strict three-month long lockdown in the UK is expected to see the economy contract by around 11.5 per cent in 2020.   

Sweden is expected to see it's economy shrink around six per cent this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured: Tantolunden park, Stockholm, Sweden May 30, 2020

A strict three-month long lockdown in the UK is expected to see the economy contract by around 11.5 per cent in 2020

GDP plummeted by more than a fifth in the first full month of the lockdown being in place, following a 5.8 per cent slump in March - which was in itself a the biggest dive ever at the time. 

Speaking on Friday Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK economy was bound to be hit hard by the pandemic because of its reliance on services, but added that the country is 'resilient' and 'dynamic'. Pointing to the massive government support through furlough and other bailouts, he said: 'We will bounce back.' 

Spain's economy could also slump by a similar 11.6% in 2020, its central bank said.  

And the Bank of Italy predicts a fall of 9.2 per cent for the country, which experienced an earlier wave of coronavirus than most of Europe, beginning in January. 

People play chess at a park in Stockholm on May 29, 2020, amid the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic

People walk in Drottninggatan during rush hour in Stockholm on May 29, 2020, amid the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic

While Germany will see a 6.6 per cent fall in GDP predicts The Institute for Economic Research, with every industry seeing a slump except the pharmaceutical sector, reports Deutsche Welle.

However, the export-dependent Swedish economy will still take a deep hit.

Andersson told reporters: 'We have seen some positive signs that we might have reached the bottom and are on our way back up,'

Andersson said the Swedish pandemic strategy likely had had a positive impact on the economy but that such considerations never played into the decision to keep the country open.

While Sweden still has fewer deaths per capita than the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Belgium - which have all opted for lockdowns - it currently has a higher rate of deaths per capita than France and Nordic neighbours Denmark, Norway and Finland

'We have listened to the Public Health Agency and followed its recommendations,' she said.

Andersson said the economy is expected to grow by 3.0 per cent in 2021 and by 4.4 per cent in 2022.    

While Sweden still has fewer deaths per capita than the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Belgium - which have all opted for lockdowns - it currently has a higher rate of deaths per capita than France and Nordic neighbours Denmark, Norway and Finland.

The voluntary lockdown has been criticised by some as a dangerous experiment with people's lives, but has also been put forward as a future model by the WHO .

In the United States the Federal Reserve predicted a yearly GDP drop of 6 per cent in 2020 after a fall of 4.8 per cent between January and March.

The decline reflected a plunge in economic activity in the last two weeks of March, which saw millions of Americans seeking unemployment benefits. 

While Brazil is predicted to see a sizeable eight per cent fall in its GDP in 2020.

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