Prime rate stays at 0.25%.
Although viewing Sweden's financial status as being on more solid ground, the national bank, Riksbank, decided in the second week of February to leave the prime rate of .25% unchanged. However, the bank's executive board noted that raising the rate again would probably happen in summer or early autumn, which was sooner than the previously estimated December date. The day following the prime rate announcement, the national bank said they would transfer SEK 5.8 billion into the general fund of the national treasury, which is the largest such payment since 2004.

Five new clinical research schools.
A threatening shortage of clinical researchers, predicted in a report from Professor Olle Stendahl, has resulted in five clinical graduate schools being founded in Gothenburg, Linköping, Umeå and Stockholm. These have been granted SEK15 million apiece over a five year period. Two will be located in Stockholm. Because the current generation is nearing retirement, the Swedish government is hoping to secure the regeneration of clinical researchers with the help of these new graduate schools. Stendahl's report recommends recruitment of doctors and clinical staff such as nurses, occupational therapists and physiotherapists to the new postgraduate schools.

Electric Volvo chassis will generate power.
Better than motors and generators for tomorrow's electric cars, new carbon fiber and polymer resin technology gets shaped into vehicle panels that charge themselves and release electricity like conventional batteries. The technique has undergone successful laboratory experimentation. Sweden's Volvo has indicated that a demonstration panel in an existing electric car prototype may be forthcoming. In February, EU politicians said they will pend €3.4 million (US$4.6 million) over three years to develop this concept. London's Imperial College, where the technology was developed, will coordinate the project among nine companies and institutes in Sweden, Germany, Greece and the UK. Mass production is expected to reduce high costs of carbon fiber. Within three years, experts say that 15% will be cut from an automobile's weight. In 5-6 years, they envision integrating their new material into car bodies, but they admit that it will take a decade before the new material could fully replace existing batteries.

Artists without pay.
The Swedish government’s proposal to put an end to the so-called artists’ salaries (guaranteed income) has become a hot potato. Manne the Clown, guitarist Janne Schaffer, and author Jan Myrdal have one thing in common: They all receive income from the state for as long as they are alive. “If we wrote thrillers, we wouldn’t be needing this income,” says Jan Myrdal, who is 82 years old. The culture elite of Sweden calls the proposal “petty”. “For me this income has been extremely important,” says film director Roy Andersson. “I don’t know what I would’ve done without it when, at a couple of times, things looked bad.” Singer Freddie Wadling calls the income a security for rainy days ahead, and Janne Schaffer calls it “a recognition”. The income, which amounts to 18,000 SEK ($2,516) monthly, is paid to 157 chosen artists and is paid for life unless the artist makes a lot of money him or herself, in which case the income is lowered or removed altogether. The income was introduced in 1976 and has been handed out to “artists whose art is of high quality and enormous importance for Swedish cultural life”. “At first it was almost like a presentation of medals. But then the terms were rewritten and greater consideration was given to the artist’s financial situation,” says Ann Larsson at Konstnärsnämnden (the Swedish Arts Grants Committee), the committee who decide which artists should receive the income. Swedish Minister for Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth says the system is unfair and random and has no meaning anymore. Liljeroth would rather see the money turned into 5- or 10 year long pension-based working grants. An idea she says would give more artists the chance to develop. “Stupid,” says Jan Myrdal. “This income is what makes it possible to do a completely unprofitable job, like traveling to the guerilla in India, which I just did.”

A new Swedish 'better trap'...for CD discs
Durable yet eco friendly Swedish packaging for CD, DVD or BluRay, the ”Jakebox” concept features a folding "claw" that holds the disc, then unfolds itself, lifts and presents it. Completely recyclable itself – with printing that uses vegetable inks and made from recycled paper, Jakebox weighs a third of conventional plastic packaging. It doesn't break if dropped and there is a wide variety of design options. Jakob Skarin, founder of JakeBox, notes that the Rolling Stones, Simple Minds, Nokia, Philips and Lamborghini are among icons who use his packaging innovation, which has earned numerous awards and has been recently licensed in Japan. For more info, see

Swedish men choose young wives from Asia.
A new international study reveals that Swedish men want younger women from Asian and Eastern Europe for their partners or wives. Swedish women on the other hand, often marry a foreign partner from West or Northern Europe of the same age. The myth of the Swedish man with a young Thai or Russian woman by his side is real. When the Institutet för framtidsstudier (Institute of future studies) took a closer look at international marriages between 1990-2004, the differences were marked. “One could say that Swedish men travel and work more in those regions (South East Asia, Eastern Europe and Russia) – but I really don’t think there’s a gender difference in travel patterns,” says Thomas Niedomysl, doctor of cultural geography at the Institutet för framtidsstudier. The Swedish men who pick a foreign-born partner, were on an average ten years her senior. In the marriages between Swedish women and foreign-born men, no such age difference exists. “The poorer the country of birth of the woman, the bigger the age gap between her and her Swedish husband,” continues Niedomysl. “In these countries, age differences between spouses are more common.” What does all this mean when it comes to gender equality? “We haven’t explored that. The myth that men want ‘mail order brides’ from poor countries exists, but I can’t say it’s accurate.” The idea behind the study was to look at couples who had met abroad or when the foreign partner was in Sweden for work or vacation. During the 1990-2004 period international marriages increased by 36%.

Gunilla von Post sells her loveletters from JFK.
The Kennedy love letters to Swedish Gunilla von Post are about to hit the auction block. A 36-year old John F. Kennedy met with Gunilla, who was then 21, on the French Riviera just a few weeks before he was about to marry Jacqueline Bouvier. Gunilla wrote about their affair in 1997. Now 11 handwritten JFK love letters, along with three telegrams, shed more light on their relationship. Wrote Kennedy: “Do you remember our dinner and evening together this summer at Antibes and Cagnes. How are you? – and what are you now doing in Paris, you said you were going to work for an airline. Do you – and do you fly to the United States. I expect to return to France in September. Will you be there?” The letters are being sold in the U.S. by von Post who is now 87-years old, and has kept them in a safe deposit box for more than half a century. The two-week online auction, which began the other day and is being handled by Legendary Auctions, has a starting price of $25,000. “People have read about Kennedy’s family life, and the type of person he was as a political figure,” said Doug Allen, the president of the auction house. “These letters are very romantic. They show a different side of Kennedy. It’s not an appropriate relationship. But it is part of history.” The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston declined to comment. If you have a hundred grand to spend and would like a unique JFK souvenir, perhaps this is for you? If not you can always read the book. “Love, Jack” by Gunilla von Post. ISBN-10: 0517328909 ISBN-13:978-0517328903.

Swedish shower habits revealed.
We do it about 5,5 times a week, and men do it more often than women, and liberals do it more often than Christian democrats. We’re talking about taking showers (or baths). Hemtex, an interior design chain in Sweden, asked for the study, which was conducted by Novus Opinion who asked 1000 Swedes questions about their personal hygiene. The result shows that the cleanest Swede is a liberal man who lives in western Sweden and works as a civil servant, the least clean Swede, on the other hand, is a Christian democratic woman of retirement age, living in Småland. Around four of ten, or 38%, shower or take a bath daily (43% men, 34% women). The study also shows great differences in young peoples’ attitudes to cleanliness: 3% of people aged 16-29 say they shower or take baths several times a day, while 2% say they shower or take baths only twice a month. The study also shows that people in Stockholm and western Sweden are cleaner than folks living in Småland, on Öland and on Gotland. Squeaky clean are also those people who sympathize with the Liberal Party, followed by sympathizers of the Center Party and the Moderates.