In a report to be presented today, Wednesday, the European Social Fund (ESF) calls for better inclusion of disadvantaged groups in Sweden.
In study of 38 suburbs with a high density of immigrants, ESF finds that 30% of teenagers failed to meet the standards to enter upper-secondary school. ESF also notes that the unemployment rate among immigrants, individuals with disabilities and the long-term unemployed has not fallen.
ESF concludes that the proportion of people in employment needs to increase to 83% by 2020, to 84% by 2025 and to 85% by 2030, if Sweden is to maintain its present welfare standard.
Activist investor Cevian Capital has acquired some SEK 2 billion worth of shares in Ericsson in the past few weeks and now owns 8.2% of the total share capital. To date, Cevian has invested SEK 15.2 billion in the telecoms equipment maker.
Cevian will be making demands of Ericsson, according to partner Christer Gardell who says it is vital that the “major sources of loss in the company quickly disappear” and that it is not good for business when these sources “become an accepted part of everyday life”.
Nordea’s shares fell heavily on Thursday after CEO Casper von Koskull announced the worst results for a fourth quarter since the financial crisis.
In the space of a year, Nordea has almost halved returns on equity and net profits for Q4 were the lowest since 2009. There were expectations that the results would be under pressure from investments in Casper von Koskull’s major transformation project, however the poor earnings came as a shock. In total Nordea’s operating income fell by 14% compared to the fourth quarter in 2016.
The poor progress during the second half of 2017 comes as the bank’s board and management are trying to juggle several balls. As well as existing projects, such as exchanging the core platform, the bank has been planning to move the head office to Finland and in October Casper von Koskull announced plans for significant cuts, in which 4,000 employees and 2,000 consultants would go. Casper von Koskull denies that they are trying to do too much.
Nordea’s shares fell 4.2% yesterday.
Sweden’s Riksbank will celebrate its 350th anniversary in May this year. Writing in Dagens Industri (DI) today, Carl B Hamilton, a deputy member of the General Council of the Riksbank and Liberal MP, says that the independence of the central bank must be taken seriously. A governor should never be appointed directly from a senior political position in the government. “The government and the Riksbank are two separate, and partly competing, power centres in the country,” he writes. Appointing a political figure from the government reduces diversity and leads to an undesirable concentration of power.
Carl B Hamilton is concerned about the lack of support for the Riksbank’s independence from several leading economists, in particular when they have pushed for a current state secretary from the Ministry of Finance, Karolina Ekholm. He writes that a governor is similar to the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces but for the economy and it is a broad task that requires good communication, international contacts, integrity and is more than monetary policy.
“My conclusion is that some of the country’s more distinguished economists are worse at protecting the Riksbank’s independence than the experienced politicians, and that some economists… have not sufficiently considered several vital aspects.”
Uncertainty about whether copper canisters can remain sealed meant the Land and Environment Court rejected SKB’s application for a nuclear waste storage facility. The court stated that it cannot conclude, from the current security analysis, that the waste storage would be safe in the long term.
SKB, which is tasked with dealing with radioactive waste, has spent tens of billions of kronor developing a method for dealing with the waste for at least 100,000 years.
The court decision does not have a legal effect, it is a basis for the government, which now must make a decision about SKB’s application.
Mobiles, technology and innovation is the focus of the Swedish lunch at Davos this year, which is hoping to attract 450 participants. Brothers Alexander and Marcus Widegren, who run the fintech company Lånbyte have arranged the event in which participants take a train up a peak in the Alps for a two-hour lunch with debates.
There is a debate panel with Bodil Eriksson, CEO for Volvo Cars Mobility and Jean Todt, UN special envoy for road safety. There will also be a discussion between Maria Stromme, professor in nanotechnology and Boyan Slat, whose “Ocean Cleanup” develops technology to clear plastic from the ocean.
Alexander Widegren comments, “Sweden has a good brand and international reputation. This gives us the opportunity to talk to world leaders but also the privilege of being good role models of Sweden’s values of equality and diversity.”
Despite massive criticism during the consultation phase of the Reepalu inquiry, the government has decided to adopt it almost exactly as it is. The government is now proposing a profit cap of 7 per cent on working capital aimed at companies within the education, pre-school and elderly care sectors.
The government states that it will be possible to continue running a company within these sectors with “reasonable returns”.
However, the model is far-reaching, as companies within education and social care generally have low operating capital as they rarely own their properties. A report from PWC, commissioned by the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, shows that as many as a quarter of the companies have negative operating capital.
The slight adjustment to Reepalu’s proposal is that all companies will be permitted to make a profit of around SEK 45,000 per year regardless of operating capital. Anders Morin, responsible for welfare policy at the Confederation says, “a wise business person will refrain from entering this sector”.
Some five years ago Britain’s mining firm Beowulf applied to open an iron ore mine in Kallak, northern Sweden. Following a lengthy legal process, the county board of Norrbotten rejected the application in December and the matter has now been referred to the government for consideration.
In a separate case, over a year ago the Mining Inspectorate of Sweden (Bergsstaten) rejected Boliden’s application for a mining concession in Laver. Boliden has since appealed to the government.
Representatives of the industry now claim that it is far harder to open a mine in Sweden today than it was a few years ago, which has led leading Social Democratic politicians in northern Sweden to react. “We have ended up in a situation in which the mining industry is finding it hard to operate,” says Niklas Nordström, municipal commissioner in Luleå, calling on the government to take action.
Enterprise Minister Mikael Damberg agrees that the process to open a mine is far too complicated and has promised to set up an inquiry shortly to review the issue and to propose measures to sharpen the tools for efficient environmental assessment.
Do not exaggerate the security consequences of Chinese investment in Sweden and the EU, urged Trade Minister Ann Linde at a conference organised by Dagens Industri (DI) on Wednesday.
The minister slammed a European Commission proposal to screen Chinese investment, saying it was based on “poor analysis” and refused to comment a Chinese group’s offer to build a deep water port in Lysekil.
Linde described Geely as a “good owner” and one that has “invested a great deal in development and innovation,” while noting that a mere 3 per cent of direct investment in Sweden is from Asia at present.
The minister also warned the next stage of Brexit negotiations will be tough, described Donald Trump as a “disappointment” but pointed out that many of the US president’s election promises have not been realised.
“There has not been any import tax, no trade war against China. I don’t know if that is down to inefficiency in the White House,” she said.
We are a small, but qualified team of graduates in politics, economics, English and classics dedicated to providing quality news digests in English that offer readers a first-hand look at the most important topics covered by the Swedish press. Here you will find a selection of the articles that are published in our Swedish Press Review.