Monday, May 07, 2007

I need to post something

One odd (or perhaps not) consequence of my detailed blogging of the World Cup is that anyone who has read or stumbled on this blog recently has concluded I am some kind of weird cricket obsessive, and that is just not true.

Well, actually of course it is true, but it doesn't do me justice, for I am many other kinds of obsessive as well. (Hmm, many kinds of obsessive. Can one actually be many kinds of obsessive, or does the word "obsessive" imply that it can only be about one thing?)

Anyway, just so that there is something else on the top his blog, here is a nice picture of Gothenburg harbour that I took from a hill overlooking the city yesterday.


In the centre, we see one of Europe's relatively few surviving shipyards. (There is a bigger one in Odense in Denmark (where Emma Maersk was built) and various others in Germany and Russia). The great maritime traditions of the Baltic are impressive.

The other thing the picture makes clear is of course the simple fact that Sweden is a great industrial country. Think of all the great international Swedish companies - Volvo, Saab, Husqvarna - and there are many more, and there is a sense that Sweden did many things right. The striking thing of course is that it is a small country. I come from a small industrialised country that has and had industry, but it was protected industry largely selling things domestically. In the international world, we can and always have relied on being a resources power. There's not harm in that if you are a resources power, but the Swedes do demonstrate the relative importance of free trade. (This is something that admirers of the "Swedish Model" often neglect, but Sweden's commitment to free trade was what actually made it rich, and what made its industrial companies so good).


Anonymous said...

There's always something comforting about such scenes. People looking busy, doing things.

Anonymous said...

It also shows the limits of a small country - both Volvo (Ford) and Saab (GM) are owned by multinationals.

Two other premium Swedish brands are Electrolux (pricey to me, but not compared to Dyson) and Baby Bjorn.

And, of course, there is SKF, probably the world leader in ball bearings, which is involved in some very interesting things (like tunnel boring machines). Their magazine often has fun articles, very different from what I normally do (small, high precision).


Michael said...

Is it the limits of a small country, or is it just the nature of the modern car industry? These were just the companies that came immediately to mind, and they were perhaps not the best ones to choose. I am not sure that the rules of the car industry necessarily apply elsewhere. In the modern post industrial services and logistics economy we have Ericsson (who do have a joint venture with Sony for their consumer business, but they are probably the dominant partner in that JV, and Ericsson by themselves are the world leader network hardware) and Ikea. And do I count something like Hennez & Mauritz. I can't really see why not.

I don't in truth see Sweden as being as dynamic as it once was, but it is still fairly dynamic. There are still good things there.

Anonymous said...

Probably limits of highly capital intensive business - theoretically, one could run a huge multinational car company out of Sweden, but I think a large internal market helps.

Other similar markets include aviation and chip making (latest fabs are too expensive for just about everyone except Intel, Samsung, and the foundries).

Any large Swedish company is going to have to be multinational. SKF is probably a good example. I suspect one thing that helped them is Sweden's iron deposits and high quality steel industry. IIRC, the other big ball bearing companies are Japanese.

The impact of outside global services (design, production, logistics) will probably help small, innovative companies throughout the world, most of them invisible to everybody outside their niche.

Although thinking about this, a Swedish small company might benefit from being in a small country - since the market is so small, they are much more likely to expand outside Sweden than the equivalent US company. I know if I start a company, I will concentrate on the US market first.

Anyway, enough rambling - although it's always fun to read about your geographical wanderings.


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