Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Fri Feb 20th 2009 at 4:22pm UTC

Just Say No

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Guess what country has just said a big, fat resounding “no” to industry bailouts? Sweden, that’s right, Sweden. The land of the big state, socialism, and social democracy. My colleague Charlotta Mellander writes:

It’s interesting how differently the financial crisis is being met by governmental authorities in North America and Scandinavia.  With Saab on the brink of bankruptcy, GM – which owns Saab – turns to the Swedish state asking for support, approximately in the same manner in the  US. And the Swedish government says – NO. No tax money will be spend on saving the car industry. The message is that if a company can’t make it on its own then tax money shouldn’t be  to bail it out. I must say I’m kind of surprised – but in a positive way. I didn’t think they’d have the  courage to say no to such an “institution.”

Here’s a report from Sweden’s The Local:

The Swedish government said on Wednesday it would not intervene to take over Saab. Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson slammed Saab’s US owner General Motors for “abandoning” the struggling Swedish car maker. General Motors has warned that the unit would go under without official help. “Voters picked me because they wanted nursery schools, police and nurses, and not to buy loss-making car factories,” Enterprise and Energy Minister Maud Olofsson told Swedish public radio.

Can we get her to be our new Commerce Secretary?

Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Jan 28th 2009 at 12:47pm UTC

Sensible Swedes

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Sweden’s Sloped Curve posts in English telling us what an absolute mess the U.S. mortgage system is and what needs to be done to fix it (via Mark Thoma).

First of all, I believe that prepayment penalties are key. In Sweden, if you pay off a fixed-rate mortgage before it expires, you have to pay for the interest rate differential between the fixed rate you’re paying and the fixed rate the lender can get in the market by investing the money you lent in an equal investment. With 10 years left on a mortgage, this can work out to a very hefty sum …

Secondly, I do believe that there should be no closing costs or points involved in getting a mortgage. This means that, as long as your mortgage is not a fixed rate mortgage, you can move your loan to another lender at any point in time, with zero cost. This promotes competition and promotes the use of adjustable rate products …

You also need to make mortgage recourse loans. You need to make sure that mortgage decisions are based on the verified income of the borrower, and not only on the assets of the borrower …  Also, you need to make sure that you can not borrow nearly 100% of the property value.

Finally, one thing that is desperately needed is new and strong regulation on what sort of mortgages that can be securitized. This also means that we can rather easily find solutions to how to get the other things to happen. New laws regarding the creation of mortgage backed securities could require that any mortgage packaged into an MBS fulfill the requirements I mention. It would be illegal to market mortgage based securities if they do not fully consist of recourse mortgages with prepayment penalties, no closing costs, a verified income that is high enough to handle the mortgage and a reasonable loan-to-value.

If this was to be implemented in the US, I believe the the federal reserve would have the tools necessary to better ensure sane credit availability and avoid the current boom and bust cycle.

BTW, we have a very similar system in Canada, where our banks remain stable, houses continue to be sold, and mortgages are still being given out.

It’s amazing to me that we (that is the U.S.) would let our housing and mortgage system undermine our banking system and real economy.