I have to admit, it’s nice to read something positive about my old home country, like in today’s Washington Post about Sweden and the Swedish economy — “the rock star of the recovery.”
It is not often that Sweden gets this kind of attention in American media, not any more anyway, after the years of neutrality and criticism against the war in Vietnam, the welfare state during the decades of social democratic governments, the controversial years of Olof Palme as Prime Minister, who was never invited to the White House, his and foreign minister Anna Lindh’s assassinations in 1986 and 2003, and ABBA and Ingmar Bergman.
Now, it’s mostly about Stieg Larsson and, and the new Swedish pop wave, or star chef Marcus Samuelsson. After Sweden joined the European Union and abandoned its neutrality, Swedish politics and economy have become distinctly less interesting for the America media.
So, mark my surprise when I opened my Washington Post this morning and found an article, which dominated the front page of the newspaper’s business section, full of praise for how Sweden has managed to avoid being dragged into the financial and economic crisis and come out ahead of all the other industrialized nations.
Sweden, writes Neil Irwin from Stockholm, has managed to do what the U.S., UK and Japan can only dream of: rapid growth (almost twice as fast as the U.S. and fastest in Europe), new jobs and greater competitiveness. Banks lend money, the real estate market is booming, and the budget is balanced.
The reason: Sweden learned of from the financial crisis in the early 90s, and Irwin describes the five lessons learned from that crisis, which, in turn, paved the way for today’s success story.