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ECONOMY

Fiat promises no job cuts in return for state aid: report

Fiat Chrysler has agreed to the conditions laid down for a state-backed €6.3 billion euro loan, including a promise not to relocate or cut jobs, Italy's Sole 24 Ore daily said Sunday.

Fiat promises no job cuts in return for state aid: report
Robots manufactured by Comau are pictured on the assembly line of the Fiat 500 BEV Battery Electric Vehicle. Photo: AFP

The state auditor has approved the guarantee, but it still needs to be signed off on by the economy ministry, the paper said.

The request for state support on such a large loan has proved controversial, particularly with the company's corporate headquarters in Amsterdam.

FCA — which directly employs close to 55,000 people in Italy — has said the loan is essential to help the group's Italy operations and the whole industry to weather the crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The company will commit to investing 5.2 billion euro in Italy on new and existing projects, and up to 1.2 billion euro on its 1,400 or so foreign suppliers, said Sole 24 Ore, Italy's financial newspaper.

 

FCA will also pledge not to cut any jobs before 2023.

The loan will be funded by Italy's largest commercial bank Intesa San Paolo and 80 percent guaranteed by export credit agency SACE, the daily said.

The government has said FCA would face sanctions if it failed to stick to the conditions laid down for loan. Sole 24 Ore said the fine for breaking the agreement could be in the region of 500 million euros.

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ECONOMY

Swedish economy to grind to a halt as interest rates kick in

Sweden faces an economic slump next year that will see economic growth grind to a complete stop, Sweden's official government economics forecaster, has warned.

Swedish economy to grind to a halt as interest rates kick in

Sweden’s National Institute of Economic Research, which is tasked with tracking the business cycle for the Swedish government, warned in its quarterly forecast on Wednesday that greater than expected energy prices, interest rate rises, and stubborn inflation rates, Sweden was facing a significant downturn. 

The institute has shaved 1.6 percentage points off its forecast for growth in 2023, leaving the economy at a standstill, contracting -0.1 percent over the year. 

The institute now expects unemployment of 7.7 percent in 2023, up from a forecast of 7.5 percent given when in its last forecast in June.

“We can see that households are already starting to reign in their consumption,” said Ylva Hedén Westerdahl, the institute’s head of forecasting, saying this was happening “a little earlier than we had thought”. 

“We thought this would have happened when electricity bills went up, and interest rates went up a little more,” she continued. 

The bank expects household consumption to contract in 2023, something that she said was “quite unusual” and had not happened since Sweden’s 1990s economic crisis, apart from in the immediate aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

This was partly down to a five percent reduction in real salaries in Sweden in 2022, taking into account inflation, which the institute expects to be followed by a further two percent fall in real salaries in 2023. 

If the incoming Moderate-led government goes ahead with plans to reimburse consumers for high power prices, however, this would counterbalance the impact of inflation, leaving Swedish households’ purchasing power unchanged. 

The institute said it expected inflation to average 7.7 percent this year and 4.6 percent in 2023, both higher than it had forecast earlier.

Sweden’s Riksbank central bank this month hike its key interest rate by a full percentage point, after inflation hit 9 percent in August, the biggest single hike since the 1990s. 

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