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Clinton praise as Sweden woos Davos

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 28 Jan 2011, 08:15

Published: 28 Jan 2011 08:15 GMT+01:00

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The Swedish model is back in fashion at this year's meet of the global finance elite and government heads in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos.

As the economies of the EU and the USA struggle to emerge from the effects of the financial crisis, Sweden is in contrast reporting strong growth and stable state finances.

"We are at odds with the rest of Europe which the world sees as weighed down by problems," Reinfeldt said in Davos at a press briefing on Thursday, pointing out Sweden's sound finances and high growth in employment.

Eva Cooper at liberal think tank Timbro told The Local on Friday that the praise received by Sweden internationally is justified and much of the success depends on finance minister Anders Borg's control of the state finances.

"Anders Borg is the answer. It has not been so clear before that the finance minister has had such an overarching control of all areas and this has functioned well during the financial crisis," Cooper said, adding that Sweden has thus been able to avoid the instability in other EU countries such as Greece.

"It has been shown that it is not wise for states to live on borrowed money, Sweden has some lessons to teach on this issue."

Reinfeldt will on Friday present the case for why Sweden, together with its Nordic neighbours Finland, Norway and Denmark have weathered the financial storm of recent years fairly well.

And according to Dagens Industri, ex-US president Bill Clinton is among those praising the country's economic achievements, arguing that Sweden's climate change policies are to thank for the country's relative economic buoyancy.

"Sweden is basically the only country which has achieved its climate goals," said Clinton.

Notable dignitaries who are expected to be in attendance to listen to Fredrik Reinfeldt include the OECD's secretary-general José Angel Gurria and Harvard economist Kenneth Saul Rogoff.

Gurria last week compared the strength of the Swedish economy to that of the popular Astrid Lindgren character Pippi Longstocking during a conference in Stockholm.

Ángel Gurría went on to praise Sweden, declaring the country "an island of prosperity" in very shaky waters, while warning that as a small economy a number of elements were out of its hands.

"Sweden is a success story, even though you are vulnerable to things you have no control over because you are a small open economy," he noted.

Story continues below…

Eva Cooper agreed that challenges remain and warned that there is a danger that all the praise could go to Sweden's head.

"There is a danger that we continue in old patterns - that we have a model and are sticking to it. In my view there are areas that would need to be changed more and establish that there are things other than state initiatives that can create security in society," she told The Local.

Anders Borg has meanwhile forecast that the Swedish economy is set to grow at a rate of 6-7 percent in the first quarter 2011.

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Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:01 January 28, 2011 by calebian22
"...arguing that Sweden's climate change policies are to thank for the country's relative economic buoyancy."

It's also why the manufacturing sector is in it's death throes in Sweden, not that Bill would understand manual labor. He only built up callouses by playing slap and tickle with interns. Another ivory tower moron.
10:10 January 28, 2011 by Nemesis
Germany is in significantly better economic shape than Sweden as are a few other countries in the EU.

Interesting comments by Bertie Ahern the past Taoiseach of Ireland, sorry I mean't Fredrik Reinfeldt Prime Minister of Sweden.

This speech is almost an exact copy of similar speeches made by the Irish Government five years ago. It is almost as though they copied and pasted the speech, then made a few small adjustments to make it a Swedish speech.

As for the praise from Clinton. That was the exact same as well. It looks like he used the same speech and just replaced the word Ireland with the word Sweden.

Sweden is losing its manufacturing base.

Sweden has a housing bubble.

Sweden has a growing personal debt problem.

Sweden looks determined to replicate Ireland and Iceland's economic collapse's.

I had hoped that Sweden's next economic correction would not be as bad as Ireland or Iceland. On the basis of the speech's at Davos, they must want to really crash the economy into the ground.
10:16 January 28, 2011 by miss79
@nemesis was thinking the same thing as u..I taught GERMAN is better than sweden..sweden is collapsing down now..
10:37 January 28, 2011 by isenhand
Things look very much like they have started to head towards a collapse, not just in Sweden but for the whole world. The apparent "prosperity" we currently have and the more money in our pockets just forms a delusion. We have a lot of facts to indicate problems coming (from increasing debt to environmental damage to food shortages and the decline in oil production). I see nothing to indicate that we have really started to deal with theses problems and given the fact that we have had decades of advanced notice and have done nothing I don't see that we will. What we have today forms an example of short term thinking that sets us up for a long term disaster.
11:27 January 28, 2011 by Mib
I would also say Germany is doing better, but in terms of growth they aren't.

@Nemisis get it into your thick head, Sweden is NOT Ireland. It doesn't have it's massive debts that requires damaging austerity measures. It doesn't have a investor led property market and now banks cannot lend more than 85% of à property's value. Banks are solvent with little Government intervention. The credit crunch is fresh in everyone's mind, so no-one at least in the Swedish Government thinks we are ready to enjoy the future without restraint. At least Sweden has a finance minister who has a degree that is relevant to his job, so his understanding of finances is good in comparison to someone like Gordon Chump Brown.

Sweden's growth is due to a big dip a year earlier and due to the size of it's economy, it has more flexibility to turn around quickly. Finally, Sweden was protected to a point from the credit crunch due to regulations brought in the early 90's after Sweden had it's own credit crisis.

But hey, why listen to the obvious differences between Sweden & Ireland when it's easier to be a troll!
12:08 January 28, 2011 by johnny1939
MIB...you are right. I like what you say.

Clinton should go and pull a rug over his head. Who needs him? Old presidents ought to shut up. They have had their time. I cannot stand the old fool Carter who is still putting his 5 c in on everything including critizing sitting presidents!!!
12:50 January 28, 2011 by Luke35711

You make good arguments. But do you live in Sweden? It may seem improbable for an external observer that any country would risk a housing bubble, now. But then Swedish institutions sometimes have this crazy Knutby-like cult qualities. I don't think one can understand it, if they haven't lived here for several years. Sweden is very good at projecting a carefully constructed positive image abroad, but once you are within the system you realize that this is just... an image. I like your arguments, I am just wondering if you had enough experience on the ground to observe that institutions here can be little autocratic empires behaving in really crazy contradictory and irrational ways.

I've just noticed that a second hand gold purchasing company opened an outlet in my local shopping center. These companies are usually active where people have a lot of debt. Same thing happened in Ireland BTW.
13:09 January 28, 2011 by Jan M
The 'winning' formula.

1. Sell-off state assets

2. Cut taxes

3. Increase spending and create a consumer bubble

4.Look prosperous for a few years

5. Realise that earnings and taxes can't sustain it

6. Panic and start borrowing alot

7. Panic even more when you can't cover the interest payments and creditors want their money back

8. Slump into recession prompted by the lack of confidence and accelerated by spending cuts

9. Watch the population blame minorities and the rise of extremist parties

10. Struggle to maintain law and order

11. Progress to conflict (for historians that was WW2).

12. Rebuild

The UK has gone through most of those steps. Sweden interestingly is still at the early points economically but at the late stages politically and socially - conflicts and blaming minorities.

By the way not intending to be critical because no-one so far knows the winning formula but for cheap salesman like Clinton and Reinfeldt to spout about Sweden's success is going to make the subsequent embarassment even greater.
14:26 January 28, 2011 by Mib

I have lived in Sweden approaching 5 years. Soon after I moved here, the moderates came into power and so I have only seen one way of Governance since I have been here and I like it.

Don't get me wrong, Sweden is far from perfect as the outside image may suggest, but every country has Its problems. When I first arrived, I was amazed how cheap property was in comparison to the UK and it still is. One of the factors of increasing property prices is the artificial rent prices, which forces some people with the money to buy a place in order to live in say Stockholm. The other is that the demand is greater than the supply, which was made worse when building reduced dramticaly during the credit crunch. Due to Sweden's relative size in population and economy, Sweden is in more danger of being damaged when the worldwide economy is down, but they have so far managed to survive due to its technology & design focus, which I have seen for several years living outside an nside the country.

One of the illusions in Sweden is that they have the perfect template for a medical system....they don't...they might be better in some areas, but in others they are lacking in progress. I have personal experience of using the system and my from my Wife working in the system.

Another is the Sweden is open and fair etc etc, well as long as your values match the culture, it isn't a difficult place to settle, but harder than if you're an immigrant to th UK. But, if you are from a differnet culture in terms of values, itseems that Swedish peopleare not so accepting. The integration of asylum seekers and immigrants has failed, just as it has in most countries. The UK is doing better, but only because immigration of many different cultures has happened over a much longer time.

Sweden has a great growth rate despite the currency being much more expensive than when I arrived and that says a lot as it's a export driven economy.

But if Sweden was so great, there would by more than 10 million people living here! However, it doesn't matter where you live, you will always find problems. For me, Sweden has a lot of positives over the UK, but a few negatives as well. But, I certainly wasn't expecting utopia and I will never expect it. If you do, you'llalways be disappointed.
14:28 January 28, 2011 by Syftfel
Any praise coming from this womanizing, perjorizing, creep should be taken with a grain of salt. It is in no small measure due to this lefty peckerhead that we've now been saddled with this other interloping fiasco in the White House who is now trying to redirect the United States of America to the clintonian socialist policies, which can only lead to a civilizational decline in the Western Hemisphere. The three worst U.S. presidents ever saw was, in ascending order: Carter, Clinton, O. Boy, do I miss Ronald Reagan! He was the best!
15:39 January 28, 2011 by Swedesmith
@Jan M

The one thing we learn from history is that we never learn from history.
15:56 January 28, 2011 by Maler1971
Syttfel, If only we chose our leaders by merit and not how charasmatic they act on "tv". It's only a beauty pageant now
18:22 January 28, 2011 by Luke35711

I've been here for 6 years (lived in the UK, Ireland and Eastern Europe before). I agree with almost everything you say. You make a very good point about the medical system. The word "illusion" is perfect. And nobody likes to confront their illusions. In my experience this extends also to their science and R&D. They want well, of course, and really believe in their ways. But national scientific output has been stagnating, especially if you take into account that 3.6% of GDP goes into research. British science is somewhat superior: people work harder, are more intellectually flexible and better motivated; the scientific system is less hierarchical, more international and more open to competition. If the long-term prosperity in globalised economy is to depend on inventiveness, these trends are somewhat worrying for Sweden.

Besides, these dark and cold winters simply suck ;))
22:32 January 28, 2011 by BobWas
So, Bill's hob-nobbing in Davos? What a surprise! -- like everyone else who lectures on climate change, he'll jump in the jet and cross oceans and continents for a good party, and the accompanying party girls.
01:06 January 29, 2011 by Tanskalainen
The U.S.A. will never be like Sweden because the basic dynamics are not the same. Slick Willy and his disgusting wife don't want to face that but simple arithmetic will tell you that comparing the two counties is unfair to both. The U.S. has a huge population (in comparision) and there are single girls who make a career out of making babies out of wedlock and living on food stamps. Larry King's horsesh*t notwithstanding these are the facts.
15:32 January 29, 2011 by 2394040
This sounds like a comment by U. S. President Herbert Hoover along about 1930. "Conditions are fundamentally sound." And for the individual who was a great admirer of Ronald Reagan, of course you would admire him as it was during his administration that the outsourcing of American jobs really took off. And certainly it continued during the Clinton administration and is still going on. Anyone who believes that commiting economic suicide is a good thing is someone who has really lost touch with reality. Want to create a better economy? Then ship as many jobs as possible to another country. Just one more example of one of history's biggest lies: "Less is more".
18:22 January 29, 2011 by thecraicer
Of course they love Sweden,. As I've said many times, the politicians lick their chops at the prospect of a docile, obedient population like here. And the corporations and the banks would love to have a entire world of controlled consumers who will gladly pay outrageous taxes right into their coffers.

Sweden is the model for the loss of your freedom and your enslavement. Proceed at your perile.
00:46 January 31, 2011 by MikeSar
There is a lot of well deserve praise of Sweden.

Evolving energy systems: The Swedish story

January 28, 2011

Go to Climate Progress.org to read it.

I also do not know how to explain it but the obvious answer is The People.

There is an spirit of tolerance and intelligence that I found only in Europe,

monasteries and churches.

But, in my months in Sweden, I never saw, or heard, of anyone trying to take advantage of anyone. Maybe, that is the Formula. Not, "If you can get away with it, do it!" Yes, I have met many outstanding Americans, of all, or no, religions, but what I read in the local papers here is not done by any I know.

Anyone can see the problem by listening to the solutions proposed by our President who wants to foist more "education" as the solution.

The people that are taking our jobs here live in Asia and most probably never graduated from High School. How can that be? The knowledge of anyone is of no, or little, interest in Assembly Line work of cars, airplanes, cell phones, etc.

Intel built a $1Billion Dollar factory in Vietnam, not because of their high education but their low wages. Maybe it is too hard to believe and accept that workers can no longer compete with computer-controlled assembly lines.

Yet, we are wasting a lot of money in military projects that are unneeded.
01:55 January 31, 2011 by saab

Mega dittos to you. Why the world still tolerates this man is beyond me. He spent 18 months of his Presidency fighting impeachment; he told the American public in advance that "I did not have relations with that woman!" (banging his fist on a podium) and then tried to out finesse a prosecutor by saying (infamously I might add): "It all depends on what 'is' is".

Bubba loves the attention, the women, the jet setting. And his admirers just give it to him, exactly the way he wants it.

I'm tired of being lectured to by these know-it-alls. Where's Al Gore lately?
06:20 January 31, 2011 by marcelj
Clinton is a self serving liar and does not deserve any recognition. He destroyed the middle class in the usa by pushing through NAFTA CAFTA AND GATT. This sent jobs overseas causing the demise of the middle class. He was a liar and a cheat while in office and is an embarrassment in the usa.

Don't give this loser any credence at all and don't listen to anything this scum has to say. He only represents filth and disgust. Carter and the Bush (father and son) also match him in disgust and contempt. All the usa gets for presidents are SELF SERVING LIARS. Need I say more?
20:54 February 1, 2011 by BobWas
saab, Al Gore is hiding out at his new, huge compound on the Pacific Coast, just down the road from Barbra Streisand's place.

He's waiting for the headlines about him grabbing the masseuse he brought to his hotel room to die down.

Don't worry, he'll be back lecturing us about the environment and raising our families before you know it.
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