Financialization and the New Swedish Model
Most studies of Swedish political economy are too optimistic about the condition and prospects of the reformed Swedish model (e.g. Bergh, 2014; Steinmo, 2010). Indeed, the Swedish economy has responded to the global financial crisis (GFC) in what appears to be a successful manner.
This comparativist literature nevertheless omits in-depth analysis of the impact of financialisation, partly due to its neglect of long-term, dialectical processes of change (cf. Ogden et al., 2014). There is a small literature on financialisation in Sweden (e.g. Belfrage, 2008; Forslund, 2008; Kallifatides et al., 2010; Ryner, 2013; Belfrage, 2015; Andersson and Jonung, 2015; Kallifatides, 2016). However, it has not clarified what the dynamics, contradictions and crisis-tendencies of the resulting finance-dominated accumulation regime in Sweden are. Drawing on document analysis and statistics, and based on Regulation Theory (e.g. Aglietta, 1979), this paper does just that. It thus corrects an overly idealised picture of Swedish economy and society, as well as, more broadly, holding the Swedish case up as a critical case study for the sustainability of the finance-dominated growth regime in Europe.
We argue that there is a looming crisis in the Swedish economy today, as the acceleration of financialisation following the GFC is shifting the economy away from being export-led to becoming debt-led and asset-based, and thus moving the economy closer to the UK and US economies. As such, the Swedish case suggests that the finance-dominated growth regime may be unsustainable in Europe more generally.
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