​Doubts about Patriot

The Swedish Armed Forces’ main argument for the purchase of Patriot is that the air defence system protects Sweden against ballistic missiles.

However this week the New York Times published an article in which the Patriot’s capacity against ballistic missiles was put in doubt. On 4 November Houthi rebels in Yemen fired a Burqan 2 missile towards the capital of Saudi Arabia. As it flew towards Riyadh it was met by four Patriot missiles. Debris was strewn across the centre of the city and the official version is that the debris proves the missile was shot down.

However missile experts who have analysed pictures and film say the missile detonated close to the terminal building at Riyadh’s airport.

Only three days after the attack, Sweden’s government decided to choose the Patriot system and instructed the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) to begin negotiations with the US.

Dagens Industri (DI) reports that its sources have said the Armed Forces can afford to buy 60-70 missiles for the Patriot system, and only a few of the advanced PAC-3 MSE, which cost SEK 50 million each. Last week DI reported that France and Eurosam quoted EUR 850 million for a package with SAMP/T, which covers Sweden’s entire air defence needs.

Government’s capital requirements threat to pensions

The government wants to go further than the EU when it comes to capital requirements for some occupational pension insurance plans. This could worsen the returns, by up to 20 per cent, for those who choose safer alternatives with guaranteed returns, write Anna Falck from the Swedish Agency for Government Employers (Arbetsgivarverket), Lena Emanuelsson chair of Saco-S, Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations, Åsa Erba-Stenhammar head of negotiations at the Public Employees’ Negotiation Council (OFR) and Helen Thornberg from the Swedish Union for Service and Communications Employees (Seko).

The EU’s occupational pension directive is to be implemented in Swedish law. The four welcome that the government is going to introduce an independent regulation for service pension companies. However, they believe it is difficult to motivate going further than other countries.

They want the rules to be formed so that the current traffic light system remains at the same level. Occupational pensions are not only essential for individual pensioners but also for society and the creation of capital in society through long-term saving.

Bitcoin is an “absurd” construction

Nordea’s CEO Casper von Koskull has called Bitcoin an “absurd” construction that defies logic although says its blockchain technology is “vital”, in an interview with Bloomberg. “When you look at Bitcoin, history shows that new currencies have come and gone.” He cannot see where Bitcoin fits in in terms of financial crime and rules. “The financial system is only as strong as its weakest link,” he adds.

On Tuesday it was reported that Nordea and several other big foreign banks are investing in a platform for blockchain technology that is to make trade easier and which is to be accessible to their customers across all the Nordic countries. Nordea is becoming a partner in the consortium We.trade, which together with IBM is developing the platform.

It is expected to be launched in the second quarter of 2018 and other banks will be able to join the open platform.

Anders Borg warns of EU banking union

Anders Borg, former finance minister, is back in the public eye again after an incident in Stockholm’s archipelago in the summer. The high-profile scandal forced Borg to leave several prestigious positions and he has now changed his professional direction towards investment and global analysis. He has also taken on the role of commentator.
A major theme for him is the EU banking union. “For me there are two decisive reasons for why Sweden should not become a member. The first is that, as a non-euro country, we would lack influence. The second is that they have chosen to handle the banking crisis in a way that does not work,” he says.
He also approves of the Riksbank’s decision to keep minus interest rates although would like to see labour and housing market reforms.

Rollén: hedge funds digging dirt

In an interview with Dagens Industri (DI), Hexagon’s CEO Ola Rollén discusses the reality of his trial for insider trading, calling it a “cruel world”.

He tells DI that hedge funds have commissioned private detectives to interview fired employees to find dirt on him. “However the silver lining is that they found nothing,” he adds.

He says, “There has been a lawyer for five weeks at the back of the court. Who do you think he represents? It is a hedge fund. It is an unbelievable game around this, and it is not me they are out after, but they want to get ahead with information and make money on falling Hexagon shares.”

He did not speculate on the outcome of the trial, which will become clear in January.

New amortisation requirement

In light of concerns around household debt levels, Financial Markets Minister Per Bolund announced on Thursday that tougher amortisation requirements will be introduced for homeowners as of 1 March 2018. All new mortgage holders who borrow more than 4.5 times their gross income will have to amortise at least 1% of the debt, in addition to the existing requirement.

The new requirement will have the most impact in Stockholm and Gothenburg, where property prices are highest. In Stockholm, 30% of all new mortgage holders will be affected.

Elisabeth Svantesson, the Moderate spokesperson on economic policy, is critical, pointing out that house prices are already falling and that such a measure could lead to a further drop in prices. She calls for major reform of the housing market instead.

Andreas Hatzigeorgiou, chief economist at the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, believes the new requirement will do more harm than good and curb growth in the region.

Minister threatens to toughen up law

Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson has turned on the financial elite who shop around the world in search of the lowest taxes and is prepared to toughen legislation.

“It is completely unacceptable that people spend so much … time and energy to avoid paying tax,” she says. However, “The problem is that if you are really going to make it difficult to tax plan then you need to go outside the EU and introduce capital restrictions. When companies actively exploit the possibilities, it means tougher legislation makes it more difficult for everyone who runs a company.”

Östling steps down

“What the hell do I get for my money, not much,” were the words uttered by Leif Östling, chair of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, when asked by SVT about his tax arrangements in Malta and Luxembourg, revealed during the Paradise Papers leak in November.

He announced yesterday that he would leave his post as chair although would not answer any follow-up questions. The official picture is that he has successfully managed to launch a new power and decision-making structure within the Confederation. However Dagens Industri (DI) reports that a number of representatives from the board made it clear that confidence in him had been lost following his comment.

Another source tells DI that the relationship between CEO Carola Lemne and Leif Östling did not work. “From day one he tried to manoeuvre her out of the way, but failed,” says the source. The struggle between the chair and CEO also reflects a deeper conflict between industrial and service companies. The Association of Swedish Engineering Industries and the Swedish Association of Industrial Employers backed Östling after the revelations while criticism came from Almega – the Employers’ Organisation for the Swedish Service Sector and the Association of Private Care Providers.

There is a general understanding that the Confederation is in trouble and has been described as outdated and slow to change. The change of chair could also lead to a change of CEO, writes DI.

Riksbank believes the krona will strengthen

The Riksbank’s forecast indicates the krona will strengthen. The current weakening could be temporary and the market ought not to read too much into recent fluctuations, said first deputy governor of the Riksbank Kerstin af Johnick to journalists in Copenhagen on Tuesday.

She also said that Swedish house prices may cool down somewhat but the Riksbank does not believe there will be a major drop in house prices.

22 years needed to save for property in Stockholm

A new report from Mäklarhuset shows that the difference in how many years it takes to save up for a deposit for a house depends on the city and profession, reports SvD. The report shows that it takes the longest time in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Uppsala. For an auxiliary nurse in Stockholm it takes 22 years to save up the deposit.

Erik Wikander, CEO of Mäklarhuset, says that it is time for politicians to add stimulus to the threats. “When there is no functioning housing market and a balance between owned and rented property, it creates a pressurised situation for young people. The regulations that have been brought in over the past five years have focused on limiting debt. However there needs also to be stimulus so that the entire housing market is used,” says Erik Wikander.