Christmas lights in Helsinki on December 18, 2023. LEHTIKUVA

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In a surprising, yet expected twist of economic outcomes, Finland has landed at the bottom of The Economist's latest economic comparison, a ranking that assessed the financial health of 35 predominantly affluent nations across Europe, Asia, and the Americas. This startling position highlights a series of economic challenges facing the Nordic country, contrasting sharply with the top-ranking performance of Greece, a nation historically synonymous with economic distress.

The Economist's analysis was broad and meticulous, examining a range of economic indicators including inflation rates, the breadth of inflation, GDP growth, employment growth, and stock market performance. These metrics offer a comprehensive view of the economic vitality and resilience of nations.

In stark contrast to the strong performances noted in many of the other countries, Finland's indicators painted a picture of economic struggle. The Finnish stock market experienced a notable decline, with stocks devaluing by 12%. Other economic metrics followed a similar trend, leading to Finland's last-place ranking in the comparison.

Greece emerged as the unexpected leader in this economic evaluation. Greek stocks saw a substantial increase in value, rising by 43.8%. This marked a significant turnaround for a country that had previously been a focal point of economic crisis narratives. Other countries that performed well include South Korea, the United States, and various nations in the Americas.

The rankings also revealed the economic standings of other Nordic and Baltic countries. Denmark emerged as the highest-ranked Nordic country at 12th place, followed by Estonia at 15th. Sweden, another major economy in the region, found itself near the bottom of the list at 31st place.

Specifically, Finland's economy shrank by 0.4% over the period analyzed. Although there was a marginal increase in employment (0.5%), this was overshadowed by the 12% fall in stock prices and a core inflation rate of 6.6%. These figures were significantly more troubling than those of many other countries in the study.

Contrary to the anticipated global recession in 2023, the world economy grew by around 3%. This growth, however, was unevenly distributed, as evidenced by the diverse outcomes in different countries. While some nations managed to navigate the economic challenges effectively, others, like Finland, faced more daunting economic realities.

The news of Finland's economic performance has resonated within the country, with public figures like Finance Minister Riikka Purra acknowledging the nation's poor showing in this international comparison. This acknowledgment reflects a broader awareness of the economic challenges facing Finland.

In its analysis, The Economist adorned the top-performing Greece with the title "Blessed by Gods." In stark contrast, some analysts have proposed the descriptor "Cursed by Poor Leadership" to encapsulate the series of missteps and strategic blunders that have beleaguered Finland's economy, as well as those of other Nordic and European nations. Online commentators point to fervent and ideological involvement in the Ukrainian conflict, highlighting the controversial allocation of billions in taxpayer funds to sustain the war effort, rather than pursuing pragmatic, diplomatic solutions aimed at fostering peace. This approach, coupled with sanctions that have arguably impacted Finland and Europe more severely than their intended target, Russia, underscores a critique of the economic acumen within Sanna Marin's government. Critics argue that years of excessive borrowing under her administration have led to a significant downturn, where not only the stock market suffers but also essential public sectors like infrastructure and healthcare have crumbled.

The Economist concludes its piece with a somewhat sardonic suggestion: as the world might toast to Greece's success with a glass of Ouzo, t ”underperforming Finns can console themselves this Christmas by drowning their sorrows in their underwear (or getting päntsdrunk, as it is known locally).”

HT

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