Change Up North

The other day James Delingpole and I were discussing (amongst many other matters) how Sweden has evolved in a manner very different from the familiar stereotype deployed in debate by right and left over here in the US. Where Ricochet leads the Economist follows. The magazine’s new issue includes a fine survey of the Nordic region.

 Here’s a key extract from one section:

Sweden has reduced public spending as a proportion of GDP from 67% in 1993 to 49% today. It could soon have a smaller state than Britain. It has also cut the top marginal tax rate by 27 percentage points since 1983, to 57%, and scrapped a mare’s nest of taxes on property, gifts, wealth and inheritance. This year it is cutting the corporate-tax rate from 26.3% to 22%. Sweden has also donned the golden straitjacket of fiscal orthodoxy with its pledge to produce a fiscal surplus over the economic cycle. Its public debt fell from 70% of GDP in 1993 to 37% in 2010, and its budget moved from an 11% deficit to a surplus of 0.3% over the same period. This allowed a country with a small, open economy to recover quickly from the financial storm of 2007-08. Sweden has also put its pension system on a sound foundation, replacing a defined-benefit system with a defined-contribution one and making automatic adjustments for longer life expectancy. Most daringly, it has introduced a universal system of school vouchers and invited private schools to compete with public ones. Private companies also vie with each other to provide state-funded health services and care for the elderly….

 There can be no doubt that Sweden’s quiet revolution has brought about a dramatic change in its economic performance. The two decades from 1970 were a period of decline: the country was demoted from being the world’s fourth-richest in 1970 to 14th-richest in 1993, when the average Swede was poorer than the average Briton or Italian. The two decades from 1990 were a period of recovery: GDP growth between 1993 and 2010 averaged 2.7% a year and productivity 2.1% a year, compared with 1.9% and 1% respectively for the main 15 EU countries.

Worth adding was the role in this success story played by Sweden’s decision to stay out of the Euro in a 2003 referendum. That decision was, for the most part, taken on the wrong (leftish) grounds, but it produced currency that reflects Swedish economic and competitive realities and allowed the country to operate an independent fiscal and monetary policy that helped to navigate the financial crisis far more successfully that those nations trapped within the Eurozone.

  1. iWc

    I was not aware of this – and I am delighted to know it!

    This means the next existential threat to Sweden comes from its muslim population, as so ably documented by Mark Steyn.

  2. Andrew Stuttaford
    C
    Hartmann von Aue: Tusen takk foer artikeln! · 52 minutes ago

    Var så god!

  3. Pseudodionysius

    2016 Campaign Slogan:

    Even Sweden Gave Up Being Sweden

  4. Duane Oyen

    I’ve been preaching about the virtues of Swedish reform in pensions and education for years; AEI has put on some events that explained them in detail.  Excellent and smart public policy reforms.

    Note than upstart newcomer Coca Cola (1886) is still bilge compared with the original soft drink, Dr Pepper (1885).

  5. Mizener

    Sweden got seriously mugged by fiscal and economic reality back in the 90s.  Social policy, however, remains in the wilder realms of leftist lunacy.  The fact that they run a surplus doesn;t mean they have anyting else right.

    Duane Oyen is absolutely right about Dr Pepper being vastly superior to Coke.  Or Pepsi.  Or RC.

  6. Duane Oyen
    Mizener: Sweden got seriously mugged by fiscal and economic reality back in the 90s.  Social policy, however, remains in the wilder realms of leftist lunacy.  The fact that they run a surplus doesn;t mean they have anyting else right.

    Duane Oyen is absolutely right about Dr Pepper being vastly superior to Coke.  Or Pepsi.  Or RC. · 8 minutes ago

    That gratuitous shot is intended to educate Andrew, who has an NRO history of taking gratuitous shots at the Nectar Of The Gods and favoring Coke.  We actually think he is a secret druggie….

  7. Andrew Stuttaford
    C
    Duane Oyen

    Mizener: Sweden got seriously mugged by fiscal and economic reality back in the 90s.  Social policy, however, remains in the wilder realms of leftist lunacy.  The fact that they run a surplus doesn;t mean they have anyting else right.

    Duane Oyen is absolutely right about Dr Pepper being vastly superior to Coke.  Or Pepsi.  Or RC. · 8 minutes ago

    That gratuitous shot is intended to educate Andrew, who has an NRO history of taking gratuitous shots at the Nectar Of The Gods and favoring Coke….. · 12 hours ago

    Duane shows that heavy (I assume) Dr Pepper consumption does not damage the memory!  The workld’s worst soft drink remains lethal to taste buds, however,  an offense both to science and to nature.

    On the question of Coke (Coke Zero is the new nectar, incidentally), check out this.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/why-we-took-cocaine-out-of-soda/272694/

  8. Rob Long
    C
    Duane Oyen

    Mizener: Sweden got seriously mugged by fiscal and economic reality back in the 90s.  Social policy, however, remains in the wilder realms of leftist lunacy.  The fact that they run a surplus doesn;t mean they have anyting else right.

    Duane Oyen is absolutely right about Dr Pepper being vastly superior to Coke.  Or Pepsi.  Or RC. · 8 minutes ago

    That gratuitous shot is intended to educate Andrew, who has an NRO history of taking gratuitous shots at the Nectar Of The Gods and favoring Coke.  We actually think he is a secret druggie…. · 1 hour ago

    Duane may be correct about Sweden, but his opinion on Dr. Pepper is an incorrect one.  He will change it eventually.  Perhaps after being re-educated.

  9. Rob Long
    C

    So, I guess, our new battle cry is Be More Like Sweden!

    Wow.  Is that because this country has gotten so bad that Sweden seems better, or because Sweden has become so much more conservative?

    Or both?

  10. Hartmann von Aue

    .  

    Rob Long: So, I guess, our new battle cry isBe More Like Sweden!

    Wow.  Is that because this country has gotten so bad thatSweden seems better, or because Sweden has become so much more conservative?

    Or both? · 13 hours ago

    Both. 

  11. Hartmann von Aue

    Tusen takk foer artikeln!

  12. Duane Oyen
    Andrew Stuttaford

    Duane Oyen

    That gratuitous shot is intended to educate Andrew, who has an NRO history of taking gratuitous shots at the Nectar Of The Gods and favoring Coke….. · 12 hours ago

    Duane shows that heavy (I assume) Dr Pepper consumption does not damage the memory!  The workld’s worst soft drink remains lethal to taste buds, however,  an offense both to science and to nature.

    On the question of Coke (Coke Zero is the new nectar, incidentally), check out this.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/why-we-took-cocaine-out-of-soda/272694/ · 5 hours ago

    I can tell you exactly what little store in London along Kingsway has Dr Pepper Zero, which convenience shop on Sidney Street has it, where to get bottles on Malta, the one place in Saigon to find (only the sugary stuff, sadly) it, and the one place to find Diet Dr Pepper in Sydney near Circular Quay.

    But I’m not obsessive about this.  Really…..

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