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by Euro Reporter
2011-06-19 09:20:00
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Finland agrees on government after complex talks

Finland's prime minister-designate says six parties have agreed to form a broad coalition government after weeks of complex talks that lingered mainly because of economic issues. Jyrki Katainen says his conservative National Coalition Party will govern with the Social Democrats, the left-wing Left Alliance, the Greens, the Swedish People's Party and the Christian Democrats.

The parties will command 126 seats in the 200-seat Parliament. Katainen's conservative party won the April 17 election and has been trying to form a government since then. The euroskeptic True Finns left the coalition talks earlier due to conflicting views on European Union policies including bailouts for debt-ridden members.

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Is Nokia’s shift to Windows Phone a good thing for Finland?


’m making the rounds in Finland to survey its mobile tech scene (disclosure: FinnFacts paid for my trip) and it was somewhat surprising to hear that the country’s software industry may see Nokia’s shift to Windows Phone as a big opportunity. I say it’s surprising because there has been a lot of (deserved) doom and gloom because the move is leading to the layoff of 7,000 people. The Software Industry Survey 2011 revealed some interesting facts and figures about the country’s perceptions about the strategy shift. Nokia is the largest employer in the country and the Symbian and MeeGo platforms have been providing tens of thousands of jobs for the last few years. While there is obviously some concern about the shift, only 3.3 percent of those surveyed said the shift directly impacted its core business.

You can expect that trend of Nokia leading Finland to continue but with the Windows Phone platform, as 23.8 percent of those surveyed expect to be developing for Microsoft’s latest smartphone operating system by 2012. If Nokia hadn’t chosen that platform, you definitely wouldn’t have seen the same amount of enthusiasm. Because of the Nokia effect, I don’t think it’s fair to say that this fervor for Windows Phone will bleed over to developers in other markets. The response from most app makers I speak to is tepid but that could quickly change if those Nokia Windows Phone handsets gain a significant user base.

By contrast, that survey also found that the same percentage of companies expect to be developing for Android by the 2012 as well. With a rapidly-growing market share in many markets, Android is just too big of an opportunity to ignore. This is just another sign that Android’s momentum is not even close to slowing down.

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Finnish bank chief says debt top threat to economy


The European debt crisis is the greatest external threat to Finland's economy, the head of the Nordic country's central bank said a day after EU ministers failed to devise plans for a second Greek bailout. "One risk is that the debt crisis will spread, affecting European and potentially even global financial markets," Bank of Finland governor Erkki Liikanen told reporters in Helsinki, adding the crisis was the "biggest external factor" affecting Finland's economy. Liikanen, who had called the news conference to present his bank's economic outlook for coming years, said he expected Finland's gross domestic product (GDP) to increase by nearly 4.0 percent this year, with growth slowing to around 2.5 percent for 2012 and 2013.

He cautioned however that this growth was threatened by the risk that wage hikes could outpace inflation, the lack of a long-term measures to stabilise public spending, and above all the danger of the EU debt crisis spreading. "We call for the avoidance of any credit events or selective defaults" by Greece, Liikanen said, echoing the position voiced by European Central Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet last week. EU finance ministers were unable to reach an agreement on how to structure a second Greek bailout at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday. Liikanen nonetheless voiced optimism that the issue could be resolved.

"I believe the people in responsible positions will be strong when the moment comes to make decisions," he said. Liikanen however cautioned that Finnish domestic policy needed to be tightened to rein in the deficit and stabilise public spending if the country and its rapidly aging population is to overcome the financial challenges ahead. "Two things will not change: Finland's public debt is increasing every day, and Finland is getting older every day," he said, adding that without prompt policy and structural changes, the financial risks would be "significant." The issue of long-term financial policy has proven one of the main stumbling blocks in ongoing negotiations to form a new Finnish government.


         
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