A Eurofound analysis of nine member states, which together account for nearly 4 out of 5 EU workers (ed.), shows that an average 12.7 per cent of the workforce is to be found in capital regions.
In Sweden, 24.4 per cent of jobs are in the Stockholm region – far more than in any of the other countries studied in the analysis. Furthermore, the share of jobs created in the region since 2002 is higher than in the other countries.
“I would not say that Stockholm is unique. In other countries with a relatively small population, a similar pattern is likely to be found,” says Eurofound analyst John Hurley, citing Ireland and Denmark.
“But it is true that Stockholm has a dominant position in the Swedish economy,” he adds.
The Stockholm region accounts for more than 30 per cent of Sweden’s GDP.
Hurley and his colleagues have considered why highly qualified jobs are concentrated to the major cities. With modern technology these jobs should be able to be carried out virtually anywhere in a country. However, proximity to major cities is becoming increasingly important for highly qualified jobs in finance, technical consulting and research, for instance.
“You might think that these jobs can be done anywhere, but in fact they benefit from a pool of skilled and talented people in the same area,” says the analyst.
SEB said it saw no need for further action as broadcaster SVT reported on Wednesday that an SEB client list contained 130 “red flag” names associated with non-resident companies suspected of money laundering in the Baltics, reports Dagens Industri.
SEB Chief Executive Johan Torgeby stood by earlier claims that the bank has not been systematically exploited for money laundering and dismissed SVT’s findings as nothing new.
Svenska Dagbladet reports that SVT identified 194 “high-risk clients”, of whom 90 could be linked to other money laundering scandals. One account holder, who purportedly handled transfers linked to the so-called Magnitsky case, was a client of SEB up until 2015.
SEB is currently the subject of a probe by Swedish and Baltic watchdogs but has declined to say whether the bank is also being investigated by US authorities.
Shares in SEB rallied 3.4% on Wednesday, recovering some of the ground lost when it emerged that it would be the subject of an SVT report.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is likely to become paralysed on 11 December since its appellate body will be down to one member. Describing the situation as grave, Swedish Foreign Trade Minister Anna Hallberg has been spending the past days in talks with the WTO’s director general and US, China and EU WTO ambassadors.
The US has blocked all appointments to the appellate body, which makes final rulings in trade disputes, saying it has a history of ignoring procedural rules, does not respect US legislation and is ineffective.
Hallberg says she agrees with the US over a number of issues such as reform and modernisation, but the collapse of the appellate process will only create divides between countries. Small countries such as Sweden will be seriously affected when the WTO ceases to function, according to the minister.
“The WTO requires a strong political leadership where we reform the WTO and the EU can play a clear role in this work and in getting China and the US on board. Sweden can also play an important role here; we have a solid reputation in these forums,” she remarks.
H&M and IKEA are among a number of global retailers said to be at the end of supply chains involving cotton products from the Chinese province of Xinjiang. According to BBC and Wall Street Journal reports, rights groups say Xinjiang’s Uighur minority are being persecuted and recruited for forced labour.
“You can't be sure that you don't have coerced labour in your supply chain if you do cotton business in China,” Nathan Ruser, researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, told the BBC.
H&M has stated: “The H&M group prohibits all forms of forced labour and we place the same demands on our suppliers regardless of the country of production. We have no clothing production in Xinjiang, but we do have an indirect business relationship with a yarn supplier who in turn has a subcontractor in this region. We are well aware of the difficulties in detecting and preventing forced labour in a complex supply chain. We therefore see that close cooperation and exchange of information with organisations and other relevant actors is extremely important”.
IKEA has said an IWAY audit of its subcontractor in the region in July this year confirmed that “no forced labour was taking place”.
State-owned Vattenfall is considering the possibility of extending the operating lifetimes of its nuclear reactors to beyond 2040, reports broadcaster SVT.
Such a move would contradict the goal of the 2016 energy agreement, concluded by the government, the Centre Party, Moderates and Christian Democrats, which is for Sweden to have 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2040.
German energy supply company Uniper, which along with Vattenfall owns the Ringhals nuclear power plant, is also mulling new nuclear reactors.
The government is proposing a new data search system that can easily show the accounts belonging to an individual. Currently if agencies tackling money laundering want to look at the accounts belonging to a suspect, they have to contact each bank individually.
The government proposal was sent to the Council on Legislation on Thursday and Financial Markets Minister Per Bolund says the system is a step towards improving how they tackle money laundering.
The risks to financial stability in Sweden have increased, according to the Riksbank. One factor behind the development is the slowdown in the global economy.
The central bank has warned that both asset bubbles and debt are increasing in an unsustainable manner and calls for an increase in the resilience of the financial system.. It also wants to see measures within housing and taxation policy for handling the poorly functioning housing market.
SvD also reports today that the Governor of the Riksbank, Stefan Ingves, believes that more money is required to monitor Swedish banks and he is critical of how Nordic and Baltic countries are failing in their cooperation against money laundering.
The United Arab Emirates intends to buy two additional GlobalEye surveillance aircraft from Saab, the defence group said on Tuesday, lifting its shares by 1.8 per cent. The order’s potential value was over USD 1 billion, around SEK 9.8 billion.
The UAE previously bought two GlobalEye aircraft in 2015 and then placed a third order in 2017. None of the earlier orders have yet been delivered.
Saab’s deals with the UAE are not without controversy. The country is part of the Saudi-led coalition in the civil war in Yemen and recently the human rights organisation Amnesty International criticised Saab for exporting arms to the UAE.
Saab’s head of press Ann Wolgers tells business daily Dagens Industri that the UAE is an important customer for the company and a potential sale is based on the conditions in the original agreement from 2015
The money laundering scandals in Swedbank and Danske Banke as well as US fines for Ericsson have gained attention abroad. Now anti-corruption organisation Transparency International (TI) is questioning corruption in the Nordic countries.
Chair of TI in Sweden, Ulrik Åshuvud, points out there is a paradox in that the Nordic countries are high on TI’s list and are thought to be largely free of corruption while at the same time they have had more problems with money laundering than other countries. He adds, “We consider there to be a need for the financial sector and the public one – the monitoring side such as financial supervision and economic crime police – to work better together.”
At the same time DN reports that Estonia’s financial supervisory authority has noted signs of ongoing criminal activity within Swedbank. The case is now being handed to Estonia’s prosecution authority.
Statistics Sweden’s third quarter jobless figures show that the number of people unemployed in the Stockholm region rose by 22,000 compared to the third quarter in 2018, and the unemployment rate for those aged 15-74 was 6.6 per cent. Original, erroneous figures from the agency put the number of jobless in Stockholm at 20,600.
According to the statistics, Stockholm County accounts for almost two-thirds of the total increase in unemployment.
Stockholm’s Chamber of Commerce is now urging the government to launch structural reforms to get the economy moving.
“Many Stockholm companies are doing all they can to find labour, which quite simply isn’t here as we have a dysfunctional housing market and an ineffective employment market,” says Stefan Westerberg, from the Chamber.
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