Hot U.S. shares market.
Swedish investors purchased foreign shares and funds worth SEK 16.6 billion in the last quarter. During the last year, SEK 126.8 billion was invested in foreign shares. The shares that sold the most were H&M and Swedbank. During October through December, Swedes purchased SEK 3.2 billion in shares from Russia and, in second place, SEK 2.8 billion from the US. Interest was weak for foreign purchase of Swedish shares, and this resulted in a mild capital outflow. Foreign investors purchased SEK 44.2 billion in Swedish debt securities during the last quarter of 2009. For the entire year, trade in Swedish securities produced a capital influx of SEK 417.8 billion.

The thermometer fell to minus 42°C (-44°F) last week in the northern Swedish town of Naimakka, which set the current record for this year. Although weekend temperatures were milder even in the northernmost province of Norrbotten, the winter chill and snow levels are being reported the worst since in the late 1980s or before. While winter remains in most places in the country, spring sprouts were popping up along with green grass in the southernmost province of Skåne at the end of the week, when the daytime thermometer reached mid forties (+6-9°C). The lowest temperature ever recorded in Sweden was also in Norrbotten, in the town of Vuoggatjålme on February 2, 1966 when the mercury dropped to -52.6°C (-62.7°F).

The year's first fresh Swedish potatoes, premiering at an auction on February 23, brought a record price of SEK 750 per kilo...about $50 per pound. The previous record was sent three years ago, when the first potatoes were picked on April 26. The winning grower this year, Patric Torle of Varalöv, a provincial town south of Ängelholm in Skåne, had expected less than half that price for the crop. His new feast was, like predecessors, grown in a greenhouse but, for the first time, used LED light technology that he had specialized for the task. Although his greenhouse's LED lights cost three time more than conventional hothouse illumination, the price is outweighed by the fact that the specially colored LEDs save more than 60% on power. The auction winner this year, Axfood, was expected to sell the lot at luxury food boutiques in Stockholm. Last year, potato winners included the Grand Hôtel and restaurant Pontus, both in Stockholm.

US considers Sweden's atomic waste tactics
Lauding Sweden's energy industry for enlisting public support for the controversial warehousing of radioactive waste, the American Association for the Advancement of Science advised that the US adopt the same strategy for depositing depleted nuclear rods from reactors during their meeting in San Diego in February. Like the U.S., Sweden gets 50% of its electricity from nuclear plants. Under Swedish law, any municipality can veto a repository within its borders, and protests against long term burial sites halted several proposed sites. The association noted that Sweden's nuclear power industry worked closely with local politicians and voters in order to succeed in selecting a location where toxic nuclear leftovers could be stored. In the US, spent nuclear fuel rods have remained for decades in temporary storage at power plants. After Congress debated where to bury them, they reversed the same decision on a repository under Yucca Mountain and the current administration cut funding for that location. US President Barrack Obama has called for "a new generation of safe, clean nuclear plants" and has budgeted $36 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear power. A former Yucca engineer at the AAAS meeting remarked that Sweden's handling of the problem of wastes from nuclear energy sharply contrasted to the process in the US where the public comment period to review 6,000 pages of federal documents had been only 60 days.

Female Inventor of the Year.
A play frame that helps handicapped children from getting brittle bones, that’s what Hoppolek is. It is also what has made its inventor Ylva Dalén female Inventor of the Year. Dalén has worked with physically handicapped children for many years, and is happy to be awarded “Female Inventor of the Year” by Margareta Andersons Fond. “I think it is amazing and encouraging,” Dalén says. Physically challenged children risk getting brittle bones as they have a hard time moving around, Hoppolek can help remedy that, as it is a kind of frame consisting of a vibrating plate that the child can control through a set of buttons. The child can choose to stand, jump or spin on the plate and these movements strengthen their bones. “Children love to run riot and I often jump with them but it is difficult to keep up with children, and one kid asked me to make a machine so that he could jump by himself. He was so happy he screamed,” Dalén continues. It took her eight years to develop the play frame, but Dalén already has new ideas brewing. Margareta Andersons Fond is a fund that aims to encourage female inventors.

No more Swedish shopping for the Danes?
Businesses in Skåne (southern Sweden) have gotten used to Danes driving across the bridge in order to fill their cars with cheap merchandise. But this shopping frenzy could now have come to an end. A year ago a Dane would get 150 SEK ($21) for his 100 DKK ($18), today he’ll get 130 SEK ($18) for 100 DKK ($18), which means that Swedish price tags aren’t as attractive as they were a year ago. This hits Swedish businesses hard, and will also affect Swedes who work in Denmark. It’s the press on the Euro following the crisis in Greece that has made the Danish crown decrease in value. The Danish crown is connected to the Euro. Says Anders Eknert managing director at the Hi-Fi club in Malmö’s Mobilia: “There are fewer Danes in the shop today than it was a year ago.” And Hi-Fi’s competitor Siba has also noted a diminished interest from the Danes: “”The Danes are still a big part of our customers here in Skåne, but sure, we’ve noted a drop there,” says Sara Widman, Siba’s PR officer. According to random tests conducted by Sydsvenska Dagbladet in March 2009, Danes made bargains going to Sweden to do their shopping, today those discrepancies in price are greatly reduced, and sometimes it is even in the Danes’ favor to shop at home. Ikea’s couch “Ektorp” was over 1,000 SEK ($140) cheaper in Sweden a year ago, today it is 400 SEK ($56) cheaper in Denmark. Go figure.

Expensive cucumbers.
What a dramatic start of the cucumber season! The first Swedish cucumber of the year was just sold in Helsingborg, at a staggering 798 SEK ($111) a kilo. Never mind the high price, a fight broke out over the two boxes with cucumbers (ten kilos in each box). The lucky winner/buyer was Swedfruit AB, a wholesale firm in Helsingborg.

Royal plastic bracelet.
There’s a new royal trend out there, and it is decidedly plastic! A close-up of Prince William’s hands shows a plastic bracelet bearing the words: “Support the Household Cavalry in Afghanistan”. And in Sweden the Childhood-bracelet, made of plastic beads, has exploded in popularity! Childhood is, of course, Queen Silvia’s foundation aimed at helping the most marginalized children in the world. You can order your own royal Childhood bracelet at: And you thought royals only covered themselves in gold and diamonds!