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Finns saving less and spending more

Finns are putting less of their money into savings, which runs counter to the usual trend of increased personal saving during economic downturns. According to Statistics Finland, in July-September many households had more money going out than coming in.

Nainen katselee lyhtyä kaupassa.
Will this Christmas season's sales boost the Finnish economy? Image: Minna Heikura / Yle

The Finnish economy is not doing so well. Unemployment is currently at 9.5 percent, and the growth forecast for 2015 hovers near zero.

Yet Statistics Finland reports that households are spending more than they are earning. The savings ratio in July-September was minus 1.3 percent, while in the second quarter of 2014 it was at plus 1.3 percent.

Ilpo Suoniemi, research coordinator with the Labour Institute for Economic Research, says when there's a significant economic downturn, people usually start to prepare for the future by socking away extra funds.

During the last major recession in Finland in the 1990s, the ratio of savings to disposable income was high, whereas the ratio dipped dipped significantly during the boom years of the mid-2000s before the financial crisis hit.

According to this logic, people should be saving more money in the current economic climate. Yet indicators show this is not the case.

Despite the negative news, one explanation for a lower savings ratio may be that many people have a better outlook for the future and thus have the courage to spend more.

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