Clinton praise as Sweden woos Davos

Clinton praise as Sweden woos Davos
Sweden's prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt will on Friday address the ongoing World Economic Forum in Davos to explain Sweden's relative economic prosperity as ex-US president Bill Clinton joined the chorus of admirers, reported the business daily Dagens Industri (DI).

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.

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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