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The Swedish Experiment

Swedish Prime Minsiter Stefan Löfven. By Frankie Fouganthin – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35376552

It seems as if the Swedish Experiment has reached its end. The steps taken to save the economy by killing a lot of people have gone bad:

In an emotional televised address on Nov. 22, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven pleaded with Swedes to cancel all nonessential meetings and announced a ban on gatherings of more than eight people, which triggered the closure of cinemas and other entertainment venues. Starting Monday, high schools will be closed.

“Authorities chose a strategy totally different to the rest of Europe, and because of it the country has suffered a lot in the first wave,” said Piotr Nowak, a physician working with Covid-19 patients at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm. “We have no idea how they failed to predict the second wave.”

Last week Sweden’s total coronavirus death count crossed 7,000. Neighboring Denmark, Finland and Norway, all similar-sized countries, have recorded since the start of the pandemic 878, 415 and 354 deaths respectively. For the first time since World War II, Sweden’s neighbors have closed their borders with the country.

And those folks died in service of an economy that is cratering:

Meanwhile, Sweden’s laissez-faire pandemic strategy has failed to deliver the economic benefits its proponents had predicted. In the first half of the year, Sweden’s gross domestic product fell by 8.5% and unemployment is projected to rise to nearly 10% in the beginning of 2021, according to the central bank and several economic institutes.

Businesses such as restaurants, hotels and retail outfits are facing a wave of closures; unlike in the rest of Europe, where governments coupled restrictions with generous stimulus, Swedish authorities have offered comparatively less support to businesses since they didn’t impose closures.

“This is worse than a lockdown and it has been a catastrophic year for everyone in the business: they haven’t closed us so they don’t give us any substantial support, yet they say to people ‘don’t go to restaurants’,” said Jonas Hamlund, who was forced to close one of his two restaurants in the coastal city of Sundsvall, laying off 30 people.

Fear of the virus and the government’s advice to avoid social interactions have weighed on domestic demand, damaging business and investor confidence, said Lars Calmfors, an economist and member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Hold tight, stay safe, wait for the vaccine.

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