As I predicted . . .

. . . back in early May. Here are the year-over-year growth rates for 2020:Q2:

Norway: Minus 5.3%
Finland: Minus 6.4%
Sweden: Minus 7.7%
Denmark: Minus 7.8%

It was never about lives vs. the economy. If people don’t want to go out and spend, you can’t stop them.

PS. The bigger European countries did worse than Sweden, but the other Nordic countries are probably the best comparison.



19 Responses to “As I predicted . . .”

  1. Gravatar of Gene Frenkle Gene Frenkle
    31. August 2020 at 11:42

    If only we had an economic tool that would lead to an increase in aggregate demand in 2021…oh wait, we do! Bury jars of money into the bank accounts of certain people. If only there was a group of people that are easily identified that have much less in savings than the average American and live paycheck to paycheck…oh wait, that group exists—African Americans that had ancestors that were American citizens in 1960 and descended from American slaves. America really got lucky that we had decades of persistent and pervasive racism towards African Americans because it gives us a great excuse to give that group of people a lump sum of money in order to stimulate the economy! 😉

  2. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    31. August 2020 at 13:05

    Not sure this mini-analysis holds water.

    Lockdowns are suffocating economies, both domestically and globally. Sweden is a trading nation, hurt by the global slowdown.

    Sweden’s health outcome is much the same as other similar nations, but they have sidestepped intrusive and restrictive, life-dulling government edicts.

    As noted by many, some aspects of life are invaluable but not priced, or measured in GDP. Meeting and conversing with friends, religious communing in groups, kids playing in clumps, grousing in a bar, schooling. Visits to museums, libraries.

    Not just the pay and output of a job, but the feeling of self-worth, and related social fabric.

    These life-essential aspects go on in Sweden, but are not measured in GDP.

  3. Gravatar of Todd Kreider Todd Kreider
    31. August 2020 at 13:11

    The Nordic countries are not the best comparison because unlike Sweden, Finland and Norway has very few coronavirus cases to begin with as they didn’t have scores of infected skiers returning from Italy. Norway regrets that it bowed to international pressure to lockdown and says it will never do that again since it didn’t make a difference and harmed children.

    Sweden’s elderly care homes are much closer to those of Britain and the opposite of the small care homes in Norway.

  4. Gravatar of Todd Kreider Todd Kreider
    31. August 2020 at 13:14


    The larger countries in Europe did not do worse than Sweden in terms of per capita deaths. Spain, Italy and the UK are within a few percent of each other while France has had 25% fewer deaths and Germany has had even fewer, with much of the difference due to difference in populations including how much immunity each had going into February.

  5. Gravatar of Alan Goldhammer Alan Goldhammer
    31. August 2020 at 13:52

    What is so surprising about this? I go out to restaurants once a week to pick up dinner as we won’t dine inside. Last Friday was the first time I’ve seen some people inside. A single table inside was occupied. Nothing is going to improve until we eliminate the threat either with better pharmaceutical treatment or a vaccine.

  6. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    31. August 2020 at 16:19

    Everyone, Hmmm. I see lots of people trying to change the subject. This post was NOT about whether lockdowns are good policy. It’s about how Covid-19 puts economies into deep recessions regardless of public policy, because people will social distance no matter what policy is pursued. I guess people have trouble admitting that I was right.

    Todd, Continuing to repeat misinformation doesn’t make it true. Both Sweden and Norway say they regret a few aspects of their policies and continue to support others. That’s normal. But nuance doesn’t matter for people with agendas.

  7. Gravatar of Mark Z Mark Z
    31. August 2020 at 18:32

    That’s also the reverse order of the nordic countries in terms of the % of GDP that is exports. Sweden and Denmark are more economically exposed to international conditions than Norway and Finland, so that’s one reason to expect Sweden (and Denmark) to underperform the other two regardless of their public health policies.

  8. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    31. August 2020 at 19:02

    Mark, Good point.

  9. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    1. September 2020 at 06:03

    Agree on all economies slowing about the same.

    The big difference should be on the recovery. If Sweden has herd immunity then they should see a permanent fall in deaths/cases and that will lead to a more robust economic rebound than in the countries without herd immunity.

  10. Gravatar of Todd Kreider Todd Kreider
    1. September 2020 at 06:15

    “Todd, Continuing to repeat misinformation doesn’t make it true. Both Sweden and Norway say they regret a few aspects of their policies and continue to support others.”

    What misinformation?

    Here is the title and by-line of the May 28 The Week article. Try reading this out loud Scott if it helps to get it to sink in:

    “Norway health chief claims coronavirus could have been controlled without lockdown”
    “Top official urges government to avoid heavy-handed measures if second wave of Covid-19 hits”

    Opening: “Camille Stoltenberg, head of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), says that analysis suggests less restrictive measures would have been sufficient – and has urged the authorities to avoid taking such a heavy-handed approach in the event of a second wave of infections.”

  11. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    1. September 2020 at 07:32

    Serious question. Is there a common mistake one makes that will immediately eliminate the comment before it is finished? Whatever that might be I am doing this. It never used to happen, it never happens on other sights–and now it happens 3 out of 4 times—when I write a longer than average comments. If one might know what this is, I would appreciate it. I don’t believe I am doing anything out of the ordinary—but I must be.

  12. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    1. September 2020 at 08:52

    Sean, Ignore everything you read on herd immunity. It’s not a number, it a function. Sweden only has herd immunity of people continue to social distance.

    Todd, And the Swedes say more restrictive measures would have been better. So what?

    Sure, It can be controlled without a lockdown. Indeed Taiwan controlled it without a lockdown. But they had 7 deaths and Sweden had 5000. See the difference?

    Michael, I have no idea. All I know is that comments with lots of links get held up.

  13. Gravatar of Todd Kreider Todd Kreider
    1. September 2020 at 09:28

    The Swedes have not said they should have had more restrictions in general. What their epidemiologists have said is that looking back, they did not protect those in nursing homes fast enough. That is, they should have immediately restricted visitors.

    What has been happening in Asia has been very different from the West, and it almost has to be how much immunity people have in different regions.

    Neuroscientist/statistician KarlFriston’s group has studied this within Europe as well:

    “His models suggest that the stark difference between outcomes in the UK and Germany, for example, is not primarily an effect of different government actions (such as better testing and earlier lockdowns) but is better explained by intrinsic differences between the populations that make the “susceptible population” in Germany — the group that is vulnerable to Covid-19 — much smaller than in the UK.”

  14. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    1. September 2020 at 09:58

    Todd, So residents of Wuhan have far less “natural immunity” than residents of other Chinese cities? Okay . . .

  15. Gravatar of Todd Kreider Todd Kreider
    1. September 2020 at 10:18

    Scott, We don’t have accurate numbers for Wuhan.

    Do you think Japan has 60 times fewer deaths per capita than the U.S. and most of Western Europe because they have tested the least and didn’t have lockdowns?

  16. Gravatar of Postkey Postkey
    1. September 2020 at 11:22

    “Dr John Wright of Bradford Royal Infirmary is intrigued by a group of amateur singers who experienced a viral illness with familiar symptoms long before the first recorded case in the UK…
    Among the first singers to get ill was the partner of a man who returned from a business trip to Wuhan on 17 or 18 December and developed a hacking cough…”
    Had this been an isolated case, it would be easy to dismiss it as being similar, but not related, to Covid-19. Except that confirmed cases in December have also been found in France and in California; suggesting that the outbreak began in Wuhan as early as October or early November.’

    “A new study from Harvard Medical School led by Dr John Brownstein analysed commercial satellite imagery.
    His team ‘observed a dramatic increase in hospital traffic outside five major Wuhan hospitals beginning late summer and early fall 2019’.”

    “The authorities didn’t hesitate to shut down movie theaters and attractions like the Forbidden City in late January, a peak consumption period when the country celebrated Lunar New Year. People stayed home:  “

    24.28 million people in Shanghai
    21.54 million Beijing

    Unbelievably? There are ‘only’ 9 reported deaths in Beijing and 7 in Shanghai?

  17. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    2. September 2020 at 10:19


    you are such a weak character, really. Scott won all the predictions precisely, he was right about almost everything, and you are miles off. And still you don’t have the guts to admit it. That’s really so low, it’s unbelievable. You should be ashamed of yourself. Do you have no shame? Obviously not.

    One should lock up pathological liars like Trump, Anders Tegnell and you in a room together. Then you could get high together on your wonder dietary supplements. The only problem is that your miracle dietary supplements are just like yourself: There is nothing in them. No active ingredient, no honesty, no decency – just a huge junk of endless nothingness.

  18. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    3. September 2020 at 09:42

    Todd, So you are denying that Wuhan had a huge death toll? The Chinese just made up stories of overflowing hospitals, and Western reporters in Wuhan decided to go along with the conspiracy?

  19. Gravatar of Pedro Cruz Pedro Cruz
    4. September 2020 at 00:00

    Yes, I guess we are learning that it wasn’t about lives vs the economy. It also wasn’t about lockdowns or high death toll. Sweden has ~6000 covid deaths, a number similar to their excess deaths. A country like Portugal (similar population), that imposed an early and sever lockdown, has only ~1800 registered covid deaths, but more excess deaths than Sweden. The same is true for other countries (e.g., Belgium and the Netherlands).

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