Debt office takes control of Carnegie.
Saying it broke banking laws and exceeded acceptable risks, Swedish regulators Nov. 10 revoked the banking license of Carnegie and announced the national debt office would take control of the troubled financial house.
The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority said Carnegie broke the law and took "exceptional risks" by lending large amounts of money to a single customer. It said the decision would not affect the bank’s client. The authority did not name the client. The watchdog launched an investigation into Carnegie on Oct. 27 after its third-quarter report revealed a 1-billion kronor ($126 million) write down related to "an individual credit commitment." The Swedish government has arranged to lend Carnegie 5 billion kronor ($630 million) in case it is stripped of its licenses. The loan would replace the liquidity support — granted at the end of October by the Swedish central bank — which would have to be withdrawn if the bank loses its licenses.
Chevy Chase to play role on Swedish sitcom.
Chevy Chase has a new gig. The iconic comedian and former star of Saturday Night Live signed on to play a recurring role on the Swedish sitcom Hjälp! Chase, who also starred in Caddyshack, the Vacation movies and Fletch, is to play a foreign correspondent based in Sweden in eight episodes of the show. Hjälp is a Swedish adaptation of a British series about a group of psychology patiets.
“Chevy Chase is one my huge idols and it will be extremely exciting to act with him. All I can say is, 'He's Chevy Chase and I'm not,'" said Swedish comedian Johan Rheborg, a co-star on Hjalp!.
"It feels wonderfully fun that we can offer our viewers a comedic legend of Chevy Chase's caliber," said Fredrik Arefalk, TV4's head of programming.
Swedish Politicians Welcome Obama.
As the anticipation in the final hours of the U.S. presidential election mounted, the Swedish people remained captivated by the spectacle of American politics. But there was never any hesitation as to where Swedes stood, they were firmly on Democrat Obama’s side. Says political commentator Stig-Björn Ljunggren:
“There’s a long history of strong ties between the United States and Sweden, we all know English and there are so many American programs on TV, once you pass a certain threshold of knowledge, your interest sort of takes on a life of its own.”
But while Swedes have a history of keeping an eye on American politics, Ljunggren says that the country has paid particularly close attention to the 2008 campaign for a variety of reasons.
“Swedes were very surprised when [John] Kerry lost in 2004, but they learned something from it,” he said, explaining that the experience taught people not to confuse expectations with reality when it comes to US politics. With Obama, he added, there are “echoes of Kennedy… people are seeing the dawn of a new era.”
Also Swedish politicians had Obama fever. Few members of Sweden’s political elite slept much on election night, many instead attended election night parties.
Per Schlingmann, secretary of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s Moderate Party said Obama’s election provides “new possibilities for U.S.-Swedish cooperation and for the relationship between the EU and Europe.”
Mona Sahlin, leader of the opposition Social Democrats, speaking at the U.S. Embassy’s election night party in Stockholm, said she “always thought Obama would win, but I still feel a bit stunned.” She added that she believed that the Obama presidency would herald a new era of transatlantic cooperation. “He has shown that he wants to re-start contact with Europe.”
Representatives of other parties were also hopeful of a new era of cooperation, Deputy Prime Minister Maud Olofsson, who is leader of the Center Party, praised Obama’s campaign: ”Obama has caught a mood in the country and has given hope for the future to the American people. He has also managed to give hope to groups of people who used to feel that they didn’t have a voice.”
Left Party leader Lars Ohly said the election was ”the end of eight years of suffering and an enormous revitalization of American democracy. Obama does not represent the old establishment. He has shown that he is willing to re-evaluate issues, such as the issue of withdrawing troops from Iraq and cooperating more with other countries and the UN. It is important for the rest of the world that the US becomes less aggressive and more willing to cooperate.”
The US Ambassador to Sweden, Michael Wood, a personal friend of President George W. Bush, welcomed the election of the first black president.
”What a symbol this sends that a black man can become president of the United States. After eight years America wanted a change. What [Americans] feel is excitement and the significance of this huge moment.”
Bjorn Borg’s coach dies.
The man that turned Sweden into a tennis powerhouse served his last ace. Lennart Bergelin trained Bjorn Borg for 12 years and captained the country to its first Davis Cup title died Nov. 4 at age 83, Peter Bengtsson, a spokesman for the Swedish Tennis Association, said. Bengtsson said Bergelin died from heart failure at a Stockholm hospital.
Bergelin gained fame as Borg’s trainer for 12 years, helping the Swede win 11 Grand Slam tournaments. He also led Sweden’s Davis Cup team from 1971-76, winning three titles. With players such as Borg, Mats Wilander and Stefan Engqvist, Sweden earned a reputation as the top tennis country in the world. The funeral arrangements weren't immediately known. Bergelin is survived by his wife, Rose Marie and three sons.
Debt office says Sweden’s finances deteriorating.
The national debt office ("Riksgälden") believes hard times are coming from Sweden, warning the global financial crisis is likely to turn recent budget surpluses into deficits in coming years. The debt office on Nov. 4 said the global downturn would likely cut into government funds by reducing income taxes in 2009 and it also forecast zero growth in the Swedish economy "in the light of the reduction in global demand."
The debt office trimmed its forecast for the 2008 budget surplus by 15 billion kronor (US$1.9 billion) to around 148 billion kronor (US$19.2 billion). For 2009, it slashed its expectations by 106 billion kronor (US$13.8 billion). It now predicts a deficit of 23 billion kronor (US$3 billion) next year.
Matters will only get worse in 2010, when the debt office expects the budget deficit to widen to 35 billion kronor (US$4.5 billion). Household consumption is forecast to dampen, while corporate profits are expected to drop.
Beating the winter blues.
In a country famed for its long winter days, the impending darkness is a source of widespread grumbling. However, for some inhabitants the short daylight hours are a cause for serious concern. The sunny days of summer are long gone and while most people see the dull winter days ahead as just a dreary dampener of spirits, for some it’s more serious than that. Seasonal Affective Disorder (appropriately shortened to SAD) is a psychological disorder characterized by depression, fatigue, decreased motivation, a tendency to sleep excessively, and a craving for carbs and sweets. In severe cases, sufferers may experience intense anxiety and irritability, and the condition can even lead to suicidal tendencies. As Jerker Hetta, Professor in Psychiatry at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm explains, SAD is a serious issue in Sweden: "I would expect that about 8-10 percent of the Swedish population do experience some form of SAD, with more extreme cases constituting 4-5 percent. Although these figures are complicated by the fact that some people displaying depressive symptoms over the winter months may already have pre-existing psychiatric problems." While there is no conclusive answer for what causes SAD, the symptomatic cycle of the condition is typically related to seasonal changes in the amount of available sunlight. Sufferers of SAD have been reported to have abnormally high levels of melatonin during the dark winter months. And Sweden does have more than its fair share of dusky days. The most northerly regions of the country experience the Arctic phenomena of polar nights, where the land is thrown into darkness for weeks at a time. The dreariness of Sweden's winters compared to its south European neighbors was documented as long ago as the 6th century. Roman chronicler Jordanes described the inhabitants of northern Sweden and Norway in his text Getica, written in Constantinople in AD 551. For those SAD sufferers who do indeed find it a sorrow to bear the long winter months in Sweden, phototherapy may offer a ray of hope. Better known as light therapy, phototherapy has been used in Sweden for years as a means of combating SAD. Phototherapy is most commonly administered through the use of a light box which emits a measured amount of balanced spectrum light from fluorescent tubes. "Clinically, patients do benefit from light exposure and light does indeed have certain biological benefits," says Hetta.
Proliferate Swedish music makers.
There are many music makers in Sweden. More so than anywhere else in Europe. According to statistics presented by Stim (Svenska Tonsättares Internationella Musikbyrå), 0.6% of all Swedes have music rights, compared to the 0.1% of holders of music rights in Germany, for example. Even a country like England scores lower than Sweden. Coming in second place on Stim’s list is Denmark.
Christmas Show for Ulf Lundell.
Many people thought Ulf Lundell’s tour this fall would be his last. But during a recent concert, the 59-year old rocker revealed plans of a Christmas show as well as another tour. The Christmas show isn’t scheduled for Christmas 2008 but rather next year’s holiday. Lundell told his audience that he’s a “Christmas romantic” who is happy to see julstjärnor available in stores already. Merry Christmas to you, Mr. Lundell!
Sweden's Crown Princess booed on Indian airliner.
Crown Princess Victoria’s recent visit to India ended on a sour note after she was booed by a plane full of frustrated passengers. The episode crowned a series of protocol slip-ups which turned into a royal embarrassment for India’s Jet Airways. The Princess’ travel nightmare began when Jet Airways officials failed to meet her delegation at the airport when she arrived for a flight out of New Delhi following a 10-day tour of India. After subsequent paperwork delays, the heir to the Swedish throne was then taken to what turned out to be the wrong terminal. Meanwhile, the patience of passengers on Victoria’s waiting plane was dwindling as Jet Airways officials scrambled to get their royal guest on board. Just as the Crown Princess finally boarded the aircraft, airline officials announced to the flight’s passengers that a VIP would be joining their flight. But when members of the Jet Airways flight crew then added that the flight had been delayed to accommodate the Swedish royal, the plane erupted in a chorus of boos. Following the incident, Jet Airways issued a public apology for Victoria’s less-than-royal treatment. "The princess was taken to the wrong terminal by the government protocol personnel. The princess was carrying at least ten bags with her, which had delayed the flight. We on our part have apologized to the princess,” said Jet Airway’s spokesperson Ragini Chopra in a statement.
King sparks controversy with wolf hunt comments.
Remarks by King Carl XVI Gustaf in support of wolf hunting have generated a wave of concern from members of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Recently the King said to a group of journalists that he’s not opposed to allowing the hunting of wolves in Sweden, citing concerns that the population of the country’s wolf pack could “explode.” The comments resulted in a flood of calls from worried members to the Swedish chapter of WWF, for which the King serves as honorary chair, wanting to know if the King’s comments reflected the views of the organization itself. Wolves remain a protected species in Sweden with a pack size estimated to be around 200 wolves. The WWF was quick to distance itself from the King’s remarks, taking care to detail its view of the issue. “It hasn’t been well accepted and we don’t agree with what he’s said,” said the WWF’s Tom Arnbom. “There is no risk for an explosion in the wolf pack. From an international perspective, we have relatively few wolves in the country.” However, Arnbom didn’t rule out the possibility of a wolf hunt if the conditions were right. “It’s very possible that there will be a wolf hunt in the future, but not as things stand right now. If we’re going to have hunting, the wolf pack must be larger than it is now. Besides it must have a better genetic composition,” he said.
Smuggling charges dropped when couple revealed party plans.
The busy social life of an elderly couple from Piteå in northern Sweden has helped free them of smuggling charges after being caught transporting thousands of liters of alcohol from Germany into Sweden. The couple was detained back in August 2006 when customs officials in Malmö stopped their minivan on the way back from a trip to Germany, reports the Piteå-Tidning newspaper. An inspection of the van uncovered over 2,000 liters of beer, 27 liters of wine, and 4.2 liters of hard liquor. The prosecutor filed smuggling charges, alleging the pair had engaged in a systematic operation to import and distribute alcohol, and argued that the couple should be sentenced to several months in prison. During the trial, the pair openly admitted to having transported the alcohol from Germany into Sweden but denied they had committed any crime since the beer, wine, and liquor was meant for personal use. Specifically, the booze was meant to supply partygoers at their son’s upcoming 40th birthday party, the wife’s 60th birthday party, their daughter’s wedding, a friend’s 70th birthday party, and a New Year’s party. Upon hearing the couple’s defense, the court threw out the smuggling charges and ordered that the couple’s alcohol supply, which had been confiscated at the start of the investigation, be returned.
Kyle on Kyle.
What is Swedish actress Sissela Kyle’s favorite drink? Where does she lunch? And what music does she dance to? Inquiring minds want to know. Here are Kyle’s answers. Favorite street: Skånegatan. Favorite lunch place: Operans bakficka. Best brunch: Rival. What she reads: Preferably history and politics. How she stays in shape: Jogging. Recycle? Yes! Favorite headpiece: A beret. Worst headpiece: A crown of thorns. Best music to dance to: The Beatles. Favorite product: The old fashioned Moulinex.