Finland, Sweden hit by record official recessions in 2009
Helsinki: The blast of the global downturn hit Finland and Sweden with the worst recessions for more than half a century last year, official data showed on Monday.
The Finnish economy took a tremendous blow, shrinking by 7.8 percent and in Sweden gross domestic product shrank by 4.9 percent.
Both figures were worse than expected, and analysts worried that recovery in Finland seemed to be lagging.
Statistics Finland declared: "The fall in output is the largest for an individual year since 1917 and 1918."
The volume of exports fell by 24 per cent, and GDP fell by 7.8 percent from the 2008 level to 171 billion euros ($232.9 billion), the preliminary data showed.
In neighbouring Sweden, the recession marked "the largest annual fall since World War II," Statistics Sweden said.
Last December the Finnish Finance Ministry said it expected GDP to fall 7.6 percent in 2009, while the Swedish central bank said it foresaw a 4.5 percent contraction in the Swedish economy this year.
However, in Finland observers said that the greatest concern was that the recovery appeared to be coming at a slower pace than expected.
"We knew this would be a terrible year, so the fact that the drop was 7.8 percent is not what`s essential. What is essential is that the GDP didn`t change in the fourth quarter" compared to the third quarter, Handelsbanken Finland analyst Tiina Helenius said.
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