Swedish firms have outshone German ones in the pandemic 6 August 2020
SINCE THE Middle Ages, when the Hanseatic League of merchant guilds dominated trade in northern Europe, the German and Swedish business worlds have been close. This remains the case. Both economies depend on exports, manufacturing and retail. Germany is the biggest market for many Swedish firms. Nearly a fifth of Sweden’s imports come from across the Baltic. The two countries’ stockmarkets also tend to move in lockstep (see chart).
You would, then, expect covid-19 to have affected Sverige AB and Deutschland AG in similar ways. Not quite. The 18 members of the DAX 30 index of Germany’s biggest firms that have already reported swung from a healthy profit in the second quarter of 2019 to a loss almost as big this year. For many companies, including Volkswagen, a giant carmaker, and BASF, the world’s biggest chemicals concern, results were even worse than analysts had expected. The income of the 27 Swedish firms in Stockholm’s OMX 30 that have reported so far fell by 49%, bad but much better than the DAX. If you include adjusted earnings of two opaque investment vehicles in the OMX, income actually rose.