Street prostitution has been cut in half, “a direct result of the criminalization of sex purchases,” the Christian Science Monitor wrote on Tuesday.
Citigroup traders cheekily suggest that Tiger Woods’s divorce settlement could have triggered a on the krona last week, the Wall Street Journal reports.
There’s an old joke about a couple from Småland, a province in southern Sweden, who win a million kronor on the lottery. “What shall we do with all the begging letters,” asks the wife. “Keep on sending them,” her husband replies.
Perhaps, though, the Smålänningar (as the region’s allegedly tight-fisted inhabitants are known) will have the last laugh as the rest of the world braces for a bumpy economic ride.
The world’s most famous Smålänning, Ingvar Kamprad, appears to have braced IKEA for the downturn by living up to the stereotype. Instead of taking advantage of cheap credit, IKEA borrowed little. Instead of selling boom-time luxuries, Kamprad has always behaved as though every one of his customers was a stereotypical stingy Smålänning.
The words of current CEO Anders Dahlvig in this Time interview are perhaps testament to the virtues of living frugally:
This is a really good time for us. The way we’ve set up our business, we’re planning for a climate like this all the time. We have a very conservative policy when it comes to borrowing money. We basically only use our retained earnings and don’t borrow very much. We also have a very conservative policy when it comes to how we place our cash and our liquidity. We don’t place anything in equities, so we haven’t lost a dime so far. And the way we position our brand is as good value for the money. People know when they have less money what Ikea stands for.
Economics: October 14th, 2008 by PO
The shuttering of Kaupthing Edge, the Swedish subsidiary of Iceland’s recently nationalized Kaupthing bank, provides The Local’s David Landes with a chance to reflect on risk, rejection, and the price of education.
Like thousands of others living in Sweden, I found myself in a rather unlikely – not to mention uncomfortable – position last week.
I’d been rejected – and it was a kind of rejection for which I was patently unprepared.
Most of us have been conditioned to deal with rejections from jobs, lovers, or institutions of higher education. That doesn’t make such dismissals any easier, but at least there is a standard script with which we are all somewhat familiar and have acted out at least once in our lives.
“Thanks, but we’re not sure you’re the best fit for this organization…”
“I’m really sorry…seriously, it’s not you, it’s me…”
“There were a record number of applicants this year…”
And so on.
But for the children of America’s baby-boomers, how to deal with rejection from a bank was one lesson that didn’t receive a lot of attention.
And I’m not talking about having your mortgage application rejected (something which not quite enough of us experienced in recent years, it now seems).
No, what happened to me and other Kaupthing customers in Sweden last week was something else entirely and seemed to echo back to a bygone era marked by bread lines, bank runs, and bootlegging.
It’s one thing to be told by a bank that you don’t have what it takes to be their customer, but it’s quite another to have the bank tell you that it doesn’t have what it takes to be your bank.
In my world, which is admittedly a charmed and naïve one, banks don’t just go away.
Sure, they change names, owners, and the shade of carpet in their branch offices.
But they don’t go away.
That’s the stuff of grandpa’s exaggerated tales of a hard knock childhood, not something I’m supposed to hear about in an email.
Or so I thought until I went from being a Kaupthing Edge customer one day, to learning the next day that Kaupthing Edge in essence ceased to exist.
And while a text book for how to deal with such an event probably exists somewhere, I didn’t have it handy at 10.51am on October 9th when the letter of rejection landed in my inbox.
Speaking later to some of my Swedish friends, I realized that bank failure isn’t something hypothetical, but painfully real and still fresh in everyone’s mind.
Less than 20 years have passed since Sweden’s banking crisis, which means almost everyone over the age of 25 probably has some memory of it.
For Swedes under 40, bank failures happen almost as often as the Social Democrats lose power. It doesn’t happen every day, but it does happen, and the possibility is ever present.
To its credit, Kaupthing didn’t try to sugarcoat its “Dear John” email with the flowery language that betrays the sort of scheming calculation that leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
I couldn’t be too bitter, but it still hurt.
I had been flirting with this edgy Icelandic beauty of a bank ever since she caught my eye during an innocent spring stroll through Stureplan in Stockholm.
After months of hesitation, I finally took the plunge in early September and applied to open an account with this roaring rascal from Reykjavik.
Kaupthing’s first letter came a few days later and I was even more smitten. She told me more about how great we would be together, but I procrastinated further before taking the next step and really putting my money where my mouth was.
In the meantime, the US financial markets started to falter, and analysts began whispering that Europe should brace itself. I looked the other way.
Plus the threat of an imminent financial meltdown seemed so ephemeral; I doubt I would have seen it coming even if I’d been looking. And my relationship with Kaupthing was fresh and full of promise, like a warm spring morning as the sun dries the dew of freshly cut grass. The world felt awash with the possibilities presented by the promise of a 5.55 percent interest rate – plus easy withdrawals.
I couldn’t lose.
I went ahead and made my first transfer in early October, confident that I had taken a crucial next step toward a long and fulfilling future with Kaupthing.
Alas, my desire to make things work blinded me to the risks inherent in getting hot and heavy with something that was simply too good to be true.
By the time I realized the folly of my ways, it was too late.
Now a single entry in my bank account registry captures both the birth and unexpected death of my brief love affair with Kaupthing, serving more as a tombstone than the milestone I first thought it represented:
2008-10-06 Kaupthing 1000,00 kronor
While I know I shouldn’t blame myself for this failed relationship, the whole episode remains rather unnerving.
On the other hand, having had my money frozen in a failed bank has brought me closer to the many Swedes who have also had their banks go belly up. Nyamko Sabuni take note – suffering through a banking failure has been an excellent tool for giving me a greater appreciation for Swedish views on finance.
And the other thing I keep telling myself is that, even if Kaupthing breaks its final promise to return my money, I don’t stand to lose that much.
As an old Swedish friend of mine always says when things don’t turn out they way we expect, “that’s the price of education.”
And if 1,000 kronor is all I have to pay to be reminded there’s no such thing as a sure thing and that every investment carries a certain amount of risk, suddenly being rejected and abandoned by Kaupthing doesn’t seem like such a bad thing after all.
A couple of Cleveland academics who are trying to establish a design district in the city have turned to Sweden for inspiration, writes The Plain Dealer.
Sweden “is one of the great design countries,” said Cuffaro, head of the Department of Industrial Design at the Cleveland Institute of Art. “And I respect that they treat it not as an elitist activity, but that design is accessible [to everyone].”
Cuffaro and Edward Hill, Hill, vice president of economic development at Cleveland State University, have embarked upon an 11-day tour of Sweden after the local Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce heard their pitch for a 24-block design district that would make Cleveland the “Milan of the Midwest”.
“We want to help them bring some Swedish design to the district and, in reverse, bring some U.S. design to Sweden,” said local businessman Lars Traner, secretary for the Swedish-American chamber.
The Montreal Economic Institute has responded to suggestions from “certain Quebec intellectuals” that the Canadian province could do worse than follow the Swedish model. The institute agrees, but reckons the intellectuals have misunderstood Sweden’s success.
“The Swedish model works because the country had the courage to liberalize its economy,” argues the institute.
Yanick Labrie, an associate researcher at the Institute, concludes that “unlike the situation often prevailing in Quebec, the government and various groups in Sweden have taken a pragmatic approach and have not been afraid to question dogmas that were paralyzing the country’s economy, including the sacred nature of the welfare state and the public sector.”
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"A week full to the brim with LFC football…. Div 5 LFC match against Nåjdens FK has been moved. This is due to the Svenska Cupen final: 26 May, 17.00 kick off, Nationalarenan Friends Arena, Solna. Next match is on Tuesday (see below). ………………………………………………………… Friday: Div5 Ladies: Rotebro IS FF – Långholmen FC (Skinnaråsens IP) KO: 16.15 ………………………………………………………… Saturday: Vets: Långholmen FC – IFK..." READ »