Bolund defends resolution fees

The government has plans to raise bank payments towards the bank reserve, which is intended to shield Sweden from the next financial crisis (ed.). Fresh figures from the Swedish Bankers’ Association (Bankföreningen) indicate that the bank reserve will amount to 200 billion kronor by 2030 as a result. This is ten times over the amount stipulated in the EU directive, but Financial Markets Minister Per Bolund (Green) defends the reserve.

“Sweden has a large and concentrated banking sector and this means that the risks are greater in Sweden than in other parts of Europe,” he tells DI.

The minister believes Denmark and the banking union made a mistake when they set the target level as low as they did, and points out that Sweden had to give Nordbanken a capital injection that amounted to 4% of GDP in the 1990s.

The bank resolution fees the banks will pay will go into the state budget and will not sit in a separate fund. Peter Malmqvist, chief analyst at Remium, is critical, saying that this is a tax levy in disguise, a claim the minister denies.

No winners in event of trade war

Two months into protectionist Donald Trump’s presidency, WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo warns of the risks of a global trade war.

Speaking to Svenska Dagbladet ahead of his visit to Stockholm today, Thursday, the WTO head says he hopes a trade war can be avoided. “There are no winners in a trade war, only losers,” he remarks.

He does not believe there will be a return to the global trade growth of 8 to 9% seen in the years prior to the financial crisis, but there is no reason why it should not pick up to 5%, although this is unlikely to happen any time soon.

Roberto Azevêdo is cautious about drawing any swift conclusions over US-China relations, convinced the two nations will reach agreement despite difficulties.

Diplomats in Washington are unsure about the direction the US may take on trade policy and the WTO head is in a similar situation. “I don’t actually know if Trump is for or against trade. What I am hearing, however, is that the Americans consider the WTO an important organisation and that they are for free trade but against unfair trade,” he says.

Swedish banks and firms drawn into Russian Laundromat

In 2014 a group of journalists working with the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) broke the story of the “Global Laundromat” – an operation whereby money was moved out of Russia between January 2011 and October 2014. Much of the money was moved out of the country via Trasta Kommercbanka in Latvia and Moldindconbank in Moldova, and investigations were subsequently launched in Latvia, Moldova, the UK and Russia.

OCCRP journalists have since gained access to information allowing investigators to track how USD 20.8 billion was moved from Russia. Detectives believe the true figure could be as much as USD 80 billion, or SKr 700 billion, according to The Guardian. As a comparison, Swedish government expenditure in 2017 is expected to be in the region of SKr 970 billion.

According to OCCRP, Sweden’s big four banks as well as Danske Bank and Norwegian DNB, are among the hundreds of banks that have processed the money. OCCRP also says that Ericsson and fastening tool company Isaberg Rapid have received money transfers of USD 1.3 billion and USD 153,000 respectively.

Ericsson says it does not normally comment individual transactions, but this was a single payment for one of its customer contracts. “We don’t know today why the payment was made by a company other than the customer, but in light of the information that has now emerged, we will take a closer look at this payment and see if we have adequate procedures and control mechanisms,” states the company.

Lundin to spin off assets

Lundin Petroleum is hiving off all its assets outside of Norway to a separate listed company called International Petroleum Corporation (IPC).

“Growth in Norway has meant shareholders’ interest in our other assets has become quite minimal,” states CEO Alex Scheiter.

IPC’s aim is to grow through acquisitions although financial director Mike Nicholson, who will become CEO of IPC, says the acquisitions will focus on quality rather than quantity.

Lundin Petroleum’s production prognosis for 2017, including IPC, is 79,000-91,000 barrels per day, which can be compared to 73,000 last year. However Alex Scheiter calls the forecast conservative.

Hands’ recipe to cope with Brexit

Even though the UK wishes to keep close ties with the EU, Brexit will force it to seek trade ties elsewhere, Greg Hands, the minister of state for international trade, tells Dagens Industri in an exclusive interview.

The minister acknowledges that the UK must increase its exports to China and India, but also points out that many of its key markets are in the EU. “We export more to Sweden, the Nordic region and the Baltic region that to China and India together,” he says.

Mr Hands met Ann Linde, the Swedish minister for EU affairs and trade, in Stockholm last Friday to discuss free trade, and tells the newspaper: “We had a very positive discussion on cooperation in various trade fora, including the WTO. We spoke of our common interest in free trade being on the world agenda.”

EU turns to other countries to defend free trade

Talking to Svenska Dagbladet, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström discusses growing concerns over Donald Trump and protectionism. “But we can’t be paralysed by Trump,” she says, telling the newspaper that there is overwhelming consensus on the importance of safeguarding talks and negotiations ahead of the WTO’s ministerial conference in December.

With the EU-US trade deal, the TTIP, frozen for the time being, the EU is eyeing new trade opportunities, particularly in Asia. “Countries are waiting in line already. They call and wonder if we can speed things up now that the US is no longer interested. We have Mexico, Japan and Mercosur wanting bilateral and multilateral agreements with the EU. Our popularity has actually increased, which is positive,” she says.

EU rejects Swedish data storage

The European Court of Justice has ruled that Sweden cannot force telecoms operators and Internet service providers to routinely store data on what their customers do online or whom they call.

Operators are ecstatic; the same cannot be said of Anders Ygeman, the home affairs minister, who is concerned over the ruling.

Government rejects plans for wind farm

The government has vetoed plans for a wind farm with up to 700 turbines in the Bay of Hanö, saying the area is a strategically important practice area for the Armed Forces.

Blekinge Offshore, which has invested some SKr 50 billion in the project, is “extremely surprised and disappointed that a Social Democratic and Green Party government has made this decision”.

Fewer unemployed but gaps growing

The number of people registered unemployed fell in November to 364,000, a drop of 10,000 compared to November last year. That means unemployment has fallen by 0.2% to 7.6%, according to the Swedish Public Employment Agency’s (Arbetsförmedlingen) monthly figures. For those born in Sweden unemployment is lower than it has been for a long time, at 4.2%.

However DN reports that among those born outside of Sweden, in particular countries outside of the EU, almost a quarter are unemployed. Annika Sundén, head analyst from the agency, says, “If you do not have an upper secondary school education it is difficult to get onto the labour market. Around half of new arrivals do not have an upper secondary school education, many also lack a primary education.” Therefore education is a decisive factor for new arrivals.

Keeping quiet about air quality

The mayors of Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Athens said on Friday that they would stop the use of all diesel-powered cars and trucks by the middle of the next decade in order to improve air quality. Similar plans are being discussed in Norway, the Netherlands and Austria, but in Sweden, where Volvo Cars, AB Volvo and Scania carry weight, politicians are keeping quiet.

The only thing that has happened of importance is that the government at the end of October tried to delay new emission requirements, from 2018 to 2019, and that in February this year Åsa Romson, the then environmental minister, lobbied at EU level to allow higher NOx emissions than those proposed by the EU up until 2020.

The conclusion must be that Swedish politicians are in the leading strings of the auto industry, and will soon be alone in the world in this, writes Svenska Dagbladet.