Monday, 23 March 2015 08:03

Fitch Changes Finland’s Outlook to Negative

Written by

(March 20, 2015 6:10 p.m. ET see the link below)
http://www.wsj.com/articles/fitch-changes-finlands-outlook-to-negative-1426889431



In coherence with the negative Fitch warning, the picture above describes quite well the worrisome economic situation of our country, where fewer and fewer working people support and are expected to support more and more elderly along with a growing debt burden! I repeat myself, but that’s actually better when taken as a success rate of my outlooks. Now days Finland has one of the worst age-structures in Europe, shrinking economy for almost 3 years and ever growing debt burden, all of which quite logically reflect in worsening economic outlooks and decreased credit ratings. The generally bad macroeconomic environment and the imposed EU-Russia sanctions have undoubted negative impact on the country’s economy, but looking deeper this time Finland has really big inner structural problems, such as the already mentioned bad age-structure, but in my view almost equally bad are the pretty much homogeneous structure of the Finnish economy and as I may call it old-aged mentality.

Regarding the economy after the decline of Nokia the whole ICT cluster is in decline, the paper industry suffers from global oversupply and restructuring (UPM- Kymmene, Stora Enso and their subcontractors...) and the metallurgy and machinery industries are, with small exceptions, in lacklustre of performance and solidity (Talvivaara, Outokumpu, Rautaruukki(now days SSAB) and their subcontractors...). So what’s really worrisome here are the weakened prospects for growth without major restructuring – renewal which the current way of thinking seems unwilling or incapable to make. Saying that I may turn to a recent article of Bloomberg:
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-21/finland-may-lose-top-fitch-rating-amid-stagnation-rising-debt

“...Finland’s government has allowed public debt to double since 2008 as economic growth proved elusive. It’s also missed all its key economic goals over the past four years and this month oversaw the collapse of a key health-care overhaul....”. Well here is where as I believe lays one of the major inner obstacles for the lack of growth and brighter economic development – the pretty much old-aged way of collective thinking (all in the same jar mentality, that is a local saying...), which doesn’t comply with the globalization, the related to it internalization and the information and technology revolution. The latter only several years ago ought to be a Nokia lead pier for Finland.
Regarding the old-aged way of thinking here I want to bring another worrisome recent dimension – last week Karl Fazer, a major Finnish entrepreneur and employer announced that he is considering to leave the country, because of the heavy tax burden. I say that the news is worrisome, because during the last year or so it seems rather as a vicious trend containing names such as Björn Wahlroos (one of the richest Finnish entrepreneurs), Maarit Toivanen-Koivisto as well as many well educated and experienced young people. And what’s really strange is the way that the local authorities reacted after Karl Fazer joined the list of movers – with a proposal for tax, which the people moving out of Finland have to pay (http://www.mtv.fi/uutiset/talous/artikkeli/il-verottaja-ehdottaa-suomesta-muuttaville-rikkaille-jaahyvaisvero/4915376).

According to me the proposal is ridiculous, because instead of listening to some of the most prominent local entrepreneurs and trying to improve the growth and investment-friendly environment it tries to threaten them. In my view that’s really old-aged and counter constructive, especially taking into account that the country’s ailing economy needs exactly the opposite – more entrepreneurs, investments, young people, working places and growth!

Kind regards, Rosti

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