Strong economy leads to larger budget surplus and lower government debt

Press release 24 February 2022

Sweden’s economy will continue to grow at a good pace in 2022 despite a setback at the beginning of the year. This contributes to further strengthening central government finances and to a lower debt. It also entails a lower borrowing requirement. The Swedish National Debt Office is therefore reducing the supply of government securities.

Continued good growth, a stronger labour market and higher dividends from state-owned enterprises are some of the factors for why we are now seeing a larger surplus for the government than in the previous forecast. At the same time, there are risks such as increased uncertainty in the wake of higher inflation, as well as geopolitical tensions, that could affect the development ahead," says Karolina Ekholm, Director General of the Debt Office. 

Growth subsides from high level and inflation peaks

The strong economic development last year is followed by growth of just over 3 per cent this year, despite a dip at the beginning. An important driver is private consumption, which is boosted by the removal of pandemic restrictions and high saving from the outset. The labour market continues to grow stronger at the same time as inflation initially remains high before abating in pace with slower economic growth next year. Unemployment continues to fall, albeit at a slower rate. Altogether, this helps strengthen central government finances.

Larger surplus in central government budget

The central government budget balance developed surprisingly strongly at the end of last year. The Debt Office is also revising up the forecast for this year and now expects the surplus to grow to SEK 139 billion, driven by increased income from taxes and higher dividends from state-owned companies such as Vattenfall. Next year the surplus decreases. As in the previous forecast, the Riksbank's repayment of foreign currency loans also contributes to the surplus in 2022 and 2023. But even central government net lending, which is not affected by the Riksbank's loans, is gradually strengthened and shows a surplus as well.

Reduced borrowing in all government securities

The stronger budget balance entails a lower borrowing requirement, and the Debt Office is therefore reducing the borrowing once again. Within the short-term borrowing, the treasury bill stock is being decreased and the two longest T-bill maturities phased out. The Debt Office is also cancelling this year's planned foreign currency bond issue and lowering the issuance volume of both inflation-linked and nominal government bonds. The supply of nominal government bonds decreases to SEK 2 billion per auction starting in August.

Central government debt continues to go down

The central government debt decreases both this year and the next. The debt is expected to fall to SEK 964 billion by the end of 2023, corresponding to 16 per cent of GDP. The debt for the entire public sector according to the Maastricht measure is expected to decrease from 37 per cent of GDP at the end of 2021 to 31 per cent in 2023. This measure is used in international comparisons and for the debt anchor of 35 per cent of GDP (±5 percentage points) in the fiscal policy framework.

Key figures for Swedish economy, central government finances and borrowing
Previous forecast
(Oct '21) in parentheses
20202021

  2022  2023
Swedish economy               
GDP growth (%) -2.9 5.2 (4.2) 3.2 (3.5) 1.8 (1.8)
Unemployment 
(% of labour force)
8.3 8.8 (8.8) 7.7 (7.6) 7.0 (7.1)
CPIF inflation (%) 0.5 2.4 (2.2) 3,1 2.0 1.8 (1.7)
Central government finances              
Budget balance (SEK billion) -221 78 (22) 139 (94) 90 (107)
Central government net lending (% of GDP) -2.7 -0.4 (-1.8) 0.2 (0.0) 0.5 (0.7)
Central government debt (% of GDP) 26 22 (23) 19 (21) 16 (18)
Public sector (Maastricht) debt (% of GDP) 40 37 (38) 33 (35) 31 (32)
Central government borrowing (SEK billion)              
Nominal government bonds 100 83 (83) 46 (50) 40 (50)
Inflation-linked bonds 13 21 (21) 9 (13) 9 (13)
Green bonds 20 0 (0) 0 (0) 0 (0)
Treasury bills (stock at year-end) 173 107 (120) 65 (183) 65 (130)
Foreign currency bonds 43 0 (0) 0 (18) 0 (0)

Central Government Borrowing – Forecast and Analysis 2022:1

The report will be presented at a digital press conference today, 24 February, at 10:00 am

Watch the live stream of the press conference here

Journalists can e-mail questions to press@riksgalden.se to be answered during the press conference. For further information or interview requests, contact the Debt Office's press function: +46 (0) 8 613 47 01, press@riksgalden.se.

The preliminary publishing date for Central Government Borrowing – Forecast and Analysis 2022:2 is 24 May 2022.

Press secretary

Åsa Elm, pressansvarig

The Debt Office's operations shall be characterized by an openness to the public and the media. The right of access to official business is a cornerstone of Swedish democracy.

Our press secretary helps you get in touch with the right person so that you can get your questions answered quickly and easily. The press secretary can also provide you with material, answer comprehensive questions about our business and upcoming publications.

Åsa Elm
Mobil: 076-100 63 56
E-mail: Åsa Elm
Press phone: 08-613 47 01 (office hours and occasionally in between)