OSLO, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Hit hard by the global crisis, the Swedish economy was outgrown during the first quarter of 2009 by neighbour Norway, Norwegian newspaper VG said on Thursday.
“Now Sweden is the little brother,” VG declared in its headline.
“For the first time in history the Norwegian economy is bigger than the Swedish,” VG said, basing its calculations on forecasts from the OECD and Norway’s central bank ahead of Swedish fourth-quarter GDP figures due on Friday.
The comparison was of total GDP, including Norway’s vast offshore oil and gas industry most the money from which does not directly enrich Norwegians but is siphoned off by the government into a fund to save for future generations.
Per capita GDP has long been higher in oil-exporter Norway, which has just 4.8 million inhabitants to Sweden’s 9.3 million.
But in 2008 the Norwegian GDP narrowed the gap to Sweden’s in absolute terms to just 3 percent smaller than Swedish GDP from 14 percent smaller in 2007, VG said.
The gap has shrunk from 1970 when the Norwegian economy was equal to only 37 percent of Sweden’s, the paper said.
The position was reversed during the first quarter as the Swedish economy was knocked by the global economic slump, while the Norwegian economy was less severely damaged, VG said.
It said its calculations based on forecasts put Swedish GDP at 619.9 billion Norwegian crowns ($90.29 billion) and Norwegian GDP at 634.5 billion crowns ($92.42 billion) in the first quarter of 2009.
Norwegian GDP grew 2 percent in 2008 to 2.54 trillion crowns, slowing from growth of 3.1 percent in 2007, Statistics Norway has reported earlier.
That would put Norway’s 2008 GDP per capita at about 530,000 crowns. Sweden’s per capita GDP was 285,000 crowns, the paper said. (Reporting by John Acher; Editing by Toby Chopra)