Swedish money: new coin, bill.
At a meeting last week at Sweden's National Bank (Riksbank), plans for a new two crown coin and a two hundred crown note were unveiled. While refreshing the looks of the current banknote and coin series, the General Council decided to support the Executive Board’s proposal to add the new coin and bank note. Historically, two crown coins have existed before, but this is the first time that a two hundred crown note has been circulated. On the other hand, the council rejected the suggestion that today's "Selma Lagerlöf" twenty crown bill would be replaced with a twenty crown coin, a metal money denomination that has already been adopted in Denmark. A rubber stamp of approval is expected this spring when the bank's Executive Board submits its decisions to be put to a vote before the Swedish Parliament (Riksdagen).

Ad budgets loosen up this year, so far...
A surprising increase of 18% for Jan. - Feb. has been spent by Swedish advertisers. Although end of year projections envisioned little or no increase in advertising volumes this year, a surprising increase of 18% in January and February has been shown in the latest figures from Swedish companies reported in a SIFO survey commissioned by Dagens Industri. The survey of the 100 largest ad spending firms revealed that they had spent altogether $400 million in the year's first two months on advertising in television, radio, print and outdoors media. Strong increases from dismal figures in 2009 were reported in the travel, automotive, home electronics and major grocery outlet branches.

Easter strike could cost millions.
Some 70 stores, including Ica, Hemköp, H&M, and IKEA will close their doors just in time for Easter, if Handel’s (the Swedish Trade Federation) extensive strike notice goes through on April 1. The notice will make Coop (the Swedish Co-operative union) winners, while the private traders may lose as much as 200 million SEK ($27,795,111.12). LO (the Swedish Trade Union Confederation) failed their latest salary negotiations and that may have severe consequences. Strike notices are everywhere, and the latest – and most severe – is the one from Handels which comes in time for Maudy Thursday when 70 stores around the country may close down if no agreement can be reached before that. Other stores too will be affected if the stocks threatened by notices cannot deliver new goods to the stores. “The strike notices will lead to disturbances fairly soon for the commerce, but consumers won’t be affected as much,” believes chairman of Handels Lars-Anders Häggström. Coop’s stores will not at all be affected as their employers have a completely different salary arrangement.

Silicon Valley firm opens in Stockholm.
A Silicon Valley consulting firm located in San Jose and specializing in user interface and usability, UEgroup, announced last month that they would open an office in Stockholm. Their target clients are industries including web, software, consumer electronics and medical technology. Headed by Anna-Karin Söderström, their Swedish subsidiary will serve Scandinavian firms with consulting services, design, strategy and concept development. UEgroup's founder, Tony Fernandes, says that Söderström would assist Scandinavian businesses to flourish globally and especially in the U.S. market. More info www.theuegroup.com

No wine for the elderly.
The people at some homes for the elderly in Sweden are being denied wine. What the elderly drinks is not something they themselves can decide, and at some places consumption of alcohol is completely prohibited. The Swedish government is now deliberating whether a glass of wine is something that is everybody’s right. At Väderkvarnens home for the elderly in Stockholm, a glass of wine or a schnapps is offered from time to time or at festive occasions. Says Astrid Laséen, 93 years old: “Having a drink is a good way to get to know a new person. We have get-togethers when we drink a glass of wine, listen to somebody playing the piano, and some people even smoke a cigarette.” Astrid is happy because it means life continues the way she used to live it when she lived by herself. And Jens Waldemar Rydberg, 68, agrees: “We’re grown-ups, it goes without saying that we should be allowed a drink or two.” Skeptics maintain that alcohol can’t be good for the health of the elderly, but Maria Larsson, Minister for Public Health and Social Services, waves that argument aside: “We’re not talking about abusing, only about a glass of wine to dinner.”

Exchanging the King for a moose?
In an open letter to the Board of Governors of the Bank of Sweden, the Republikanska föreningen (the Republican Association) demands that all royal symbols on Swedish bills and coins be removed. According to the association, the royal family does not represent modern Sweden and therefore ask that all portraits of kings be exchanged to something else, equally Swedish, now that new Swedish denominations are introduced. “Personally I’d like to see Astrid Lindgren or Alfred Nobel on our bills and coins. Even the king of the forest (the moose) would be better than Gustav Vasa or Carl Gustaf Bernadotte,” says Peter Althin, chairman of the Republican Association. What do you think?

Tiger Woods is talking.
Look who is finally talking – Tiger Woods! Not that he’s saying much, though. In an 5-minute interview he mentioned the state of his marriage with Swedish Elin (“We’re working on it and it’s a process that will remain private between her and I”), why he couldn’t say no to women (“I don’t know, now I know. It's part of what I learned in treatment, being there for 45 days you learn a lot. You strip away the denial, the rationalization and you come to the truth and the truth is very painful at times and to stare at yourself and look at the person you've become…you become disgusted”), being a national joke (“"It was hurtful, but then again you know what? I did it. I'm the one who did those things and looking back on it now with a more clear head, I get it. I can understand why people will say these things because you know what, it was disgusting behavior. As a person, it's hard to believe that was me looking back on it now”), and what it was like telling his wife about the affairs (“"She was hurt, she was hurt. Very hurt. Shocked. Angry. And, you know, she had every right to be”). Woods sported a Buddhist bracelet (“It’s for protection and strength and I certainly need that”) but his wedding ring was missing…