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I am missing nationalism (The Swedish government is not like other governments)

July 9, 2011 in News

Tompa asked me to post the following article from di.se:

I’m missing nationalism

He diqualifies the governments actions when it comes to Saab.

Head of the Automotive components group (FKG) Sven Åke Berglie also think that Minister of Enterprise Maud Olofsson shows uninterest and lacks skills of leadership.

When Sven Åke Berglie sums up his twelve years as Head of FKG, his critique is anything but mild.

Berglie is retiring in the beginning of September. He’s been through record-breaking years like in 2007 only to the year after lead the organization through an almost bottomless depression in the wake of the financial crisis.

Berglie has been the face and spokesperson for the more anonymous sub contractors when Saab’s, Volvo’s and Scania’s ordeals have been lifted in the media. He has been straight forward in questions and has always seen to be available.

How does he grade the Reinfeldt government and its actions through the years of crisis?

During the financial crisis Minister of Finance Anders Borg, and his coworkers, did a brilliant job. But we would have liked to see a Minister of Enterprise that at least had cared of our sector, but my thoughts are that she hasn’t. It feels a bit strange. We missed leadership during the crisis.

What grade does he give?
F

How do you think Maud Olofsson has handled Saab?
It begun with some strange statements about instead building Windmills in Trollhättan.. Yet again I’m missing leadership

What is wrong with Antonov? Berglie asks rhetorically.

If I’d been Anders Borg, I’d be pinning the EIB up against the wall. Bo Lundgren of the NDO worked swiftly and approved Antonov, says Berglie and wonders why the government isn’t following the directives from it’s own expert authority.

In your opinion, why is the government ambivalent in this matter?
It feels like there is a Hidden Agenda. But there might be no such thing. But if no information is handed that only leads to suspicion

What would you like to see from the politicians?
I’m missing, lets say, a bit of nationalism. To see what might be good for Sweden. As an example Sweden has stricter rules for endorsements to research than what the EU stipulates.

On a related note: I do not want to promise too much, but I’ve been told we will see some additional criticism of the government the coming week. The question is no longer what the government can do for Saab, but rather what they have actively done to make life difficult for Saab. We have hinted at these things in the past, but now a couple of djup strupes have come forward with some damning evidence that we are currently trying to verify. I am confident Saab will have all the pieces in place shortly, but it will not be thanks to the government. It will be in spite of certain elements within the government. Mr Berglie is being very diplomatic in his assessment above. That is unfortunately the extent of what I can say at this time. To be continued…

35 responses to I am missing nationalism (The Swedish government is not like other governments)

  1. Regarding Maud Olofsson:
    It is indeed much more and much deeper than strange statements and a lack of nationalism on her part.
    She goes out of her way to critisize and jab at SAAB every opportunity that she gets.
    One day some very clever reporter will find out the truth regarding her utter disregard and disrespect for this brand and the very fine SAAB employees. My speculation is that it is something very personal to her.

    • Frankly, it´s not just Saab that is looked down on. It´s the Automotive Industry as such. (Even the Industry as such)
      Volvo has had their share of negative remarks from the Minestry of Enterprise/Industry aswell. Only they have not been in the same position as Saab is in now. It´s easier to kill the small and injured than the big and healthy.

      I´m not going into politics more today, but would rather look back at Tim´s 9-3X post because it deals with the fundementals… Saabs beautiful cars.

      BUT it is important to know of every aspect regarding this whole farce and what people with great influence thinks of it.

      Cheers/Tom

  2. I don’t think it’s all about the Minister of Enterprise, though I do indeed agree with Mr. Berglie; there is also the PM and the Minister of Finance, both from the same party; they have quite a lot to say … in the government, and have shown no interest whatsoever.

  3. This is definitely a political issue and unfortunately indicative of Socialist governments worldwide. We had a revolution here in Wisconsin since November 2010. We went from a $3+ billion dollar deficit to last week’s $3 million surplus. Our new free-market legislature cut waste but most importantly they made the state accessible for business.

    We were 47th, now we are 24th, which is remarkable for several months. Just last week this article on the wonders of Sweden appeared in the Washington Post. But there is a huge disparity between the article and what happened to SAAB since March.

    The indifference to the economic future of Sweden is unconscionable. That they would look to doling out unemployment benefits instead of fighting for jobs is criminal. I know this is strong language but this is what caused our bums to be thrown out of office in our last election. Companies left our state while our corrupt Governor stood idles by. Now we our new Lt. Governor spends all day finding companies to move to Wisconsin. Socialist just are not wired for this. It is only the entrepreneurs who take the risks that provide jobs through innovation. We are so lucky to have people like Victor and Vladimir with SAAB.

    • I think you’ll have to rethink that when it comes to Sweden. But it’s so easy to blame anything on the “socialists”; do you even have such in the US? For a very long time it’s been the Social Democrats in the Swedish government, for example during the years after WW II, when the Swedish industry expanded heavily; the Swedish Social Democrats have always worked together with the industry, in one way or the other. As for now, this is a liberal-right-wing government (centre-right coalition; compared to the centre-left Social Democrats).

  4. I said it months ago and it looks to be true – SAAB is caught swimming upstream against the globalists’ agenda. FR, MO, AB and the EIB are trying to make an example out of SAAB. My advice – SAAB has always bucked the trend. SAAB should keep SAABing and buck this trend.

    I cannot wait to see what it is that VM is up against. Maybe he will feel the most vindicated of all.

  5. As a Swede I’m so PO’d about the “goodie goodie” attitude of Swedish government, I did vote for them but I had so much higher hopes. If it was german car company in crisis there’s be all sorts of actions, public and non public to help them out and save german jobs. We swedes just abide the ‘rules’ and let our jobs and companies slip away… NOONE IS GOING TO SEND US A THANKYOU NOTE !

    I would just sooo much love to see someone in the goverment step up to the plate and say “This is important to Sweden and our future” But nooo…the government think the “service”-kind of jobs will be the future…..want a hint…without real physical products being developed and built in Sweden we wont have the expertice to offer any services either !! I so wish I was 25 and fresh out of school, then I’d leave this soon to be previously-successfull nation.

    • You only have to look at the UK……to agree!!

      Years of the Labour Goverment (the previous Party of the Workers) could not care less about their voters anymore…. just loads of Corporate ££££’s….until the crunch came & they all run like hell & leave the country they have fleeced to rot in a pile of debt….

      BRING ON THE SERVICE INDUSTRY SWEDEN……you know where it will end.

    • A few years ago the European Union “paid” us to kill our productive sectors and set our target to services. Look where we are now (Portugal). I feel sorry for so many hard working swedes that are proud to work on the automotive industry (SAAB, Scania, Volvo…), with such interesting brands and products, without having the right recognition of their government. Of course I believe that companies must be profitable, but if they stop to try to kill SAAB, I’m sure it will survive and continue to amaze us for the future with the safety, innovation features and beauty of their cars.
      Griffin up

    • +1

      or make that +1000 instead.

    • Just for information regarding this article and your previous comment:

      The swedish government most surely not socialist.
      It is the most right-wing ideology at its peak here

      That being said all scandinavians are Social-Democrats wether they like it or not.

      When we are talking Neo-Liberalism (Right Wing in Europe) we are not talking in differences like in the US.
      We are talking a little bit of semi-privatisation of public services, and if our max. taxation should be 65% or 80%
      The welfare state is not questioned in any way.

      The typical right wing voter will expect to be able to both make a fortune and not pay tax, and if it goes wrong, to be picked up by the welfare system

      The typical Left wing voter will never understand why their Tax money can not all be spent on taking care of them and maintain a constantly increasing welfare no matter how hard it is for industry to survive all kinds of demands from government

      Actually that was probably the short version of what happened to Greece ;-)

      The article is very true of what happened for Sweden. They have handled the financial crisis much earlier than the rest of the world, because they were hit earlier.
      Sweden has had a hard time while the rest of us was partying

      End of short simplified story of candinavian politics.

      And I didn’t even mention the new Nationalist Parties we have here :-)

  6. I just found this related story from the UK Daily Express. How if your company doesn’t have economic clout then the EU will stab you in the back.

    http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/257666

    • This subject really pi**ed me off recently….

      One day our MP Ian Duncan-Smith, was in Spain claiming British jobs for \British workers….& the next, a British manufacturing Co (although not British owned) looses Thousands of Jobs to the EU….again.

      Another lovely sell out By our previous LABOUR Goverment………Absolutely DISGRACEFUL

      • It also makes me wonder how much GERMANY has to do with SAABS’ political problems within the EU.

        • BINGO! EU = Germany 4.0. UK and France are to ride the coattails. All other nations, including the Sweden, are ancillary.

          • I wouldn’t count on the germans having any fingers in this.
            All of the strange things going on in most cases involving EU is that it is a strange construction.

            One one hand it is a sharing of market and economy, driven by the free market idea.
            In the other hand it is a highly regulatory organ with its fingers in almost eveything regarding economy qua the Euro.
            And they wouldn’t mind getting even more political influence in the Commision.

            Every major government project in EU has to be out in licitation.
            The best offer wins.
            At the moment the best offer is the cheapest with most probable stability.

            If the individual governments skew the terms in favour of local industry, they will be fined.
            No local interests are to be taken into account as it breaks the free market rules
            The difference between normal economics, where the contract giving party can set the terms freely, is that there is now political control of this.

            Economics 101 is that the strongest will survive and prosper until there is only a few left, bring about monopolisation tendencies, breaking the free market structures.

            In which case the EU will step in with fines and demands towards those companies, like they did with MS.

            On the other hand EU will bring help to those places in EU that have lost industries, making them Development Zones, and helping industries and infrastructure, making them competitive again..Until they have become too competitive on help..In which case the EU pulls the plug again.

            Etc. ..

            Short point.. Economics and Politics are inseperable in the EU Zone, even though we claim free market to be the basis

  7. aki said on July 9, 2011

    One thing is for sure. There are some car companies who would not mind if Saab disappeared and have the market for themselves. The swedish gov. should realise this and not only facilitate Saabs effort they should not make believe that they are throwing tax money away….just give Saab a break and don`t make life tough for them. They should go and get some advice from the Germans and French and for that matter the American government. This is disgraceful.

  8. Sorry if someone else has already pointed this out and I think I have previously myself, but I don’t understand these idiots (the government). I think that Saab, Volvo and all their suppliers need to get together and push this government. It seems that some suppliers are only worried about getting what is owed by Saab and not seeing the big picture here that is that just because they are not having struggles with the Government like Saab is, it could be just as easily them in this position. Because of the Governments lack of getting involved or making decisions, this problem multiplied like crazy and forced suppliers to be used like pawns by the Government and the EIB when they stopped shipments of parts and demanded payment. The Governments lack of doing anything has put every supplier at risk as well as the whole auto industry (in Sweden). Sweden looks more and more hostile of an environment for the auto industry when the government comes across like they don’t need industry and will do nothing to help. Do the suppliers really think that the Government would care if they were gone too? Get together, talk to the media, push this Government to take a stand and remove their blinders. The trickle down from this does involve every supplier as well as Saab, if you are a supplier, don’t be fooled to think that it doesn’t.

  9. JH said on July 9, 2011

    In that article Sven-Åke Berglie says almost exactly what I am thinking, +1 to him!

  10. Doesn’t Sweden have something like an Association of Automotive Industry? And if it does, why don’t they close the ranks and start putting some pressure on the government? Or is it just not in the nature of the Swedes to do that? I simply can’t imagine that the Swedes just stand there and watch one of their key industries, crown jewels if you will, going down the drain.

    Ivo

  11. Am I to assume that Maud and Freddie are actually hardcore capitalists who think that anything that doesnt make money should be obliterated whatever the cost to Swedish society? Surely not in Sweden with its cradle-to-grave social policies. ;) If “free market” America can support GM surely Swedish politicians should offer help to their auto industry. Just image the massive social and economic damage to the Swedish economy if car manufacturers and, by default, their suppliers ceased to exist. I bet if you were to take a total of all staff at Saab, Ovlov and all their suppliers you’d be looking at probably 1% of the total Swedish workforce. Wake up Freddie and Maud!!!

    • The knowledge about facts for Swedish industry seems to be at an astonishing low level here at SU.

      So once again, let´s look at some facts about Swedish industry, and which segments the Swedish government has given top priority. Swedish car industry does not belong to these for the next ten years and the Swedish governments silence certainly is no hidden agenda, but only continuation of a successful Swedish strategy (from all Swedish governments for decades), based on the facts that especially Volvo cars and SAAB, today add only limited small amounts to the Swedish Gross National Product compared to other Swedish industry lines.

      The size of Swedish vehicle industry 2010, mainly Volvo and Scania trucks, buses and Volvo and SAAB cars is only 4 billion SEK, when measured as net export (export minus import) 2010. SAAB due to its fore most Swedes unbelievable losses of roughly 50% of sales in 2010, (now maybve also for 2011), might even give a negative contribution to GNP.

      It can also be questioned if Swedish small vehicles manufacturing really is any high tech industry for Sweden compared to the rest of the world, since it more and more of it has become assembly lines for imported parts and system, developed and manufactured abroad. Sweden today has more successful greowing high tech industries than its car industry to rely on..

      I can understand if Sven-Ake Berglie, representing the suppliers to this losing Swedish industry line (just like the textile industry 40 years ago) wants the government to help reducing the pain in his losing industry. That is an important part of his job to argue for, but unfortunately all industrial facts are against him. Just like it was for the representatives in the losing Swedish textile industry decades ago. His arguments might give headlines in media, but do not change the course of development for the Swedish industrial structure. Only growing successful and profitable businesses can accomplish that.

      So lets once more look at the winners in Sweden, during the same period the Swedish car industry lost most of its importance.

      In the opposite corner to the cars 4 billion SEK, Sweden has the successful forestry industry´s total of 97 billion SEK. This industry consists of several world market leaders (together with those in Finland). In this industry the same number of people produces MUCH MORE VALUE than their fellows in the car industry. Swedish forestry industry left all low tech lines more than 20 years ago, and started developing astonishing new products and production methods, which today are top of the world.

      As another example, the fastest growing industry during the last years in Sweden (with very active support from Maud Olofsson) has been the minerals industry with net export 28 billion SEK 2010,, expected to double within some years (iron ore, gold, silver and rare minerals). This is also a new high tech industry in Sweden where few people produce great value for the population, and where other Swedish companies (Sandvik, Atlas Copco and others) supply top of the art technology. Maybe this is what Maud Olofsson herself will talk about as her most succesful contribution to Swedish industrial development.

      The Swedish government certainly knows which industries Sweden depends on today and in the future. And Sweden today is considered being an example of successful industrial policies, something other European contries should follow, i e they should stop supporting losing industry lines from governments until the inevitable death.

      We today know that SAAB losses 2010 was 50% of sales . In 2011. SAAB´s production stops 2011 already are similar to those in 2010, but in 2q011 interest costs will be higher than 2010, so SAAB´s losses 2011 probably will be in the same range, i e 50% of sales.

      I, and according to all polls most Swedes, certainly would blame the Swedish government if they supported such a lossmaking industry (i e more than already done). It´s up to the owners to finance “mature” established old industry lines, not the government. (For windmills, today being a rapidly expanding new Swedish industrial market with limited production capacity, government support would be considered natural by most Swedes as being in accordance with Swedish industrial traditions).

      Please, do not blame the SUCCESFUL Swedish Government for SAAs

      • First of all Nissi… This round isn’t about government handouts. The question concerns the ownership structure of Saab. For some reason, despite NDO’s approval, the government and EIB are still reluctant to allow Antonov a stake in Saab. They would rather see Saab shut down.

        That means that the Swedish government are taking an active part in shutting down Saab. 4000 jobs in THN out the window, plus approx 6000 jobs elsewhere. Are you suggesting these people should find employment in the successive forrest industry you mentioned?

        Please explain to me: The government’s active act of sabotage serves what purpose..?

        FYI: In 2007 the automobile industry (Scania and Volvo included) exported for 155 billion SEK. That is 14% of Sweden’s total export and represent the biggest item of export among 66 different categories.

        Another simple fact: Countries like France, Germany and the US chose to support their automobile industry. Their strategy seems to be successful. You can discuss the beauty of free market economics all you want, but Sweden is no island. Any decision made must be weighed up against what everybody else are doing.

        But bottom line: In a free market place, the government does not interfere with the owner structure of any business. You are effectively arguing that the government should have total control, yet not help out when the government make bad decisions. That seems like a very flawed strategy to me, and that is the reason why everyone here are so concerned.

        • Yes Rune. There is a world of difference between a government offering financial assistance to a corporate entity and actively interferring with its operation. I understand that it is arguable as to whether or not a government should subsidize a private entity with public funds (I am honestly torn on that issue myself). Thus, if the goverment refusses to offer financial assistance then I would expect them to be doing so to avoid expending public funds on the private sector. Yet, they turn around and expend public funds to interfere with their business instead? That is hypocracy at a level of being criminal.

          As for Nissi’s argument: I am just dumb-founded that anyone applaud government’s twisted policy on an automotive industry based on whats going on in the Forrestry industry. That makes as much sense as asking my dog if my 9-3 needs an oil change.

      • Nissi,
        sorry but, you want to tell me that the industry sectors in Sweden with the brightest future are lumber-jacks and mining?
        Sorry but it looks to me like a cul-de-sac, as the Irish say.

        And BTW, if Swedish mining companies would pay for the environment destroyed outside Sweden their financial situation would look different.

        I know some industry sectors, and the car industry, because of the short cycles of their products is at the forefront in many aspects. Loosing a national car industry, means loosing knowledge in such important fields like CAD-CAM-CAE.

      • The short version of what you are saying:

        We will produce more with less people employed, and the rest can live off that?

        You are leaving out the number of people on welfare in your calculations.
        As long as there is just balance in the import/export account aka a flat 0, you have kept people employed, thus keeping the need for taxes down.

        Or do you expect the hi-tech industries incl. your forest industry ,to keep employing more and more people?
        That would go against their very nature and .make them uncompetitive.

      • You are making One really big misstake here… The Swedish government has told us, the people, that the industry has to support itself and the goverment (state really) should not support with funding… Noone and noone with either Saab or Conversgroup has been nocking on the governments door to have the assist with money but only help to be able to run Saab according to the businessplan. A plan where Mr Vladimir Antonov is a piece of the puzzle. Had the government stuck to it’s own principles and listened to the NDO and GM, that has approved of Mr Antonov, and let Saab get an injection of funding… Well then the factory would not have been idle for x weeks, development of new vehicles with green tech (with aid from the EIB loan) would be much further in development etc etc. What we are saying is: This administration has medled in affairs that they themselves say they want no part in.. Obstructing private companies is something the conservatives has seen as something unholly.. Now they are doing it themselves.

        Cheers/Tom

      • Nissi, you keep repeating that figure of “only 4 billion SEK” in comment after comment, but I have yet to see you provide a source for it. It would be interesting to see just what it represents. My theory is that it says that the value of all cars and car parts exported from Sweden exceeds all the imported ditto by 4 billion. If so, then it is a completely insane argument you’re trying to make. You see, if we stopped building vehicles in Sweden, we would still be driving and transporting goods to almost exactly the same extent, but we would then have to import all our vehicles. We would have a gigantic trade deficit in this sector instead of a slight surplus. The value to Sweden of its automotive sector is the difference between today’s situation and having to import everything, not between today’s situation and zero. In other words, your figure of 4 billion is completely meaningless.

        Here are some more relevant figures for you, Nissi:

        “The automotive industry in Sweden is by any standards a very significant industry with 12 percent of industrial value added, 14 percent of total goods exports and the second largest net export of all commodities. A comparison with other European countries shows that only two countries, Slovakia and Germany, have more people employed in the automotive industry as a share of total industrial employment.”

        and

        “The automotive industry and its subcontractors are usually estimated to employ about 140 000 people in total in Sweden. No other industry in Sweden generates as much employment for contractors and subcontractors. The implication is that for the automotive industry reduced production gives greater spillover effects on employment, compared to other industries. If vehicle production declines and the number of jobs in the automotive manufacturing are directly decreased by 1 000, then a further 1 600 jobs will be lost.”

        The quotes come from this source. It’s an investigation by Nutek (the government agency for promoting enterprise and growth) in 2009 about the national and regional importance of the Swedish automotive industry. You’re Swedish, right? Then you should probably read this. I’m no industry expert, just a fairly adept googler; but to my layman eyes it seems that this document contradicts just about everything you’ve said in your comments here. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

      • @ Nissi, I have been looking up some of your earlier posts on SU. Although written in an authoritative tone of voice, many of them contain imho misleading or ‘personalized’ interpretations of certain data or quote unnamed sources. Plus they are often either directly or indirectly apologetic regarding mrs. Olofssons ministry. I’m beginning to wonder if you are by any chance connected to mrs. Olofssons PR department. If you are, no problem, but it would be decent of you to say so. If you are not then you need to at least clean up your act as regards the data, information and sources supporting your stated opinions.

        Apart from that, your rather one-sided and -again, as others have pointed out, misleading and factually incorrect- comment doesn’t include the immense globe-spanning brand value of companies such as Volvo, Scania and Saab. These names are synonymous with Sweden and the perceived high quality of its industrial products. Ask anyone anywhere in the world what Swedish brands of industrial and manufactured products and commodities they can name and these three will be always amongst the first to get mentioned. Even Saab, with its current problems, is sure to end up in the Top 10. Not so, however, Stora, Alfa Laval or SKF. Or turn it around: if you ask someone somewhere where Volvo or Saab come from, it’s a pretty safe bet they will say Sweden. Ask where Alfa Laval comes from and you’ll get either no answer at all. Or maybe ‘Italy’.

        If the Swedish Government really focusses on policies such as those you describe then that is, as far as I’m concerned, probably one of the most short-sighted approaches to future industrial development I have ever encountered. I have worked for Swedish government institutions, trade representations and companies for many years. From that experience, I can tell you that most, actually all of the people I have dealt with were quite aware of the importance of the country’s manufacturing base. I will admit that this was quite a few years ago so if the current thoughts about where the economic future of Sweden lies really are as you say then Sweden today must be governed by a bunch of incompetent idiots. I cannot believe this is really the case, even though the record of the Swedish Government in the business case of Saab is certainly and demonstrably less than exemplary in several aspects.

        Ivo

  12. Dear Nissi:
    Here is the problem with your concept of what is really happening. The Chinese and Koreans will work cheaper, harder, and have the same skill level as you and other EU countries. To their credit the Germans know this and are they only ones working like hell to stay ahead of the curve. On top of that, unlike your government, they, the far eastern nations, have governments that will openly practice protectionism and then lie about it to your leaders. In other words, you are playing against a dealer who has 4 aces up his sleeve.

    Case in point. We, the American people were told by Carter, Bush one, Bush two, Clinton, and so on, that we didn’t need those smokestack jobs anymore, let them go to Asia, our kids would have hi-tech office jobs engineering intellectual property. Here is the problem, that didn’t happen. Real fast major employers figured out that high tech talent could be had for half the wages of US workers, those jobs were,” offshored.” How do I know this? Easy, I’m old enough to have listened to their misinformation first hand.
    Beware of politicians selling these type of wares. They don’t understand the problem, and when they are proven wrong 15-20 years from now, they will be gone from power, and what they said will be only a distance memory.

  13. we can all blab about governments this or that, but with every money costing poo of the government it is also “from my taxmoney!! scandalous!!” retorics all over from the respective taxpayers… you can’t have it both ways.

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