About & Regular Focus Areas

Mark 009 (5)
Photo: Emma Stockdale

I am a genuinely independent British-Swedish political analyst, economist and author who have had the opportunity to work internationally with corporations, think tanks as well as research institutes. I am also a regular contributor to the public debate both in the UK and Sweden. Well-known employers include the Swedish Foreign Ministry, OMX (Nasdaq) and Cantor Fitzgerald. I was employed by Cantor during the September 11 disaster (Cantor Fitzgerald was the company most severely affected; 650 colleagues passed). This disaster proved a career turning point for me. Analytically I started to focus much more specifically on the threats to a vital society. I have found that idealist group-think marketed by the political camp in vogue has always, including today, been much more destabilising to society, long term, than terrorist attacks. Especially politicised group-think passed around as if based on objective science. How so? External enemies are easy to spot and easy to unite against. Political camps with institutionalised powers, however, will move into excess terrain through the accumulated effect of many small steps. So the overshoot will follow through mission creep dressed up as small(ish) acts of moderation.

The orchestrators will moreover be the last to notice things have been taken too far. Why? Because when an agenda no longer makes practical sense the key backers of the leading camp – the interest groups who gain the most from the overshoot – will shift their leadership allegiance from the “realists” to the “do-gooder idealists”. The latter breed of politicians might have little or no experience useful when tackling real life challenges. They will however master the art of keeping the fight alive through idealist moralism. Not least by blaming every problem on their “evil” opponents. They will do so effectively not least while they will be truly convinced they are engaged in a crucial fight between good and evil. The scene will be set for a fierce political backlash, sometimes equally dogmatic anti-thesis rivals, stubborn tribalism as well as an acrimonious culture war. Meaning it will be far from the most noble hour of the human race. Many voters will feel abandoned while, for good reason, also not feeling truly comfortable anywhere. This is the phase country after country is going through in real time. Certainly not for the first time in history. Neither is it likely to be the last. The end game? Much more predictable than many currently think.

Do I stand out as a political analyst and economist? Yes, while systematically applying a public choice perspective. What does this mean in practice? That I never arrive at conclusions before having proactively eliminated politically hyped but defective arguments relating to the latest bundle of political and economic, yes, group-think. History proves overwhelmingly that such group-think typically has developed, primarily, while politically or economically convenient to the movers and shakers currently in power.

I dislike witch hunts of all sorts not least while I have found that most people everywhere tend to act in good faith. The politicians we might enjoy thrashing are typically products of their (our) times. After all, many of “us” have, at least at some point, voted for them. Also, we frail human beings all have a tendency to convince ourselves that what benefits us personally also happen to benefit society – even when we are patently wrong.

Professionally I relish digging into complex analytical problems, pulling out the truly relevant points and leaving the noise behind. Before as objectively as possible working out the key conclusions. Next to family and sports there is little that lifts my spirit as much as intellectual honesty.

Commenting on the UK-EU trade deal on December 30, 2020 on Swedish Expressen TV. In Swedish with English subtitles.

Want to work together?

I offer well researched trend analysis in a realist no-nonsense package. Typically manifested either through reports or speeches. If primarily after verification of mainstream thought I am not your guy. I am your guy if interested in knowing why mainstream thought – including both political forecasts and macroeconomic forecasts – is often reliably wrong in a totally predictable way. As always there is plenty of opportunity for those who, before taking action, know how to distinguish between trends based on substance and trends based on hype. 

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Since always striving to provide clarity of thought – and multidisciplinary understanding – I aim to help clients develop into thought leaders. I work internationally with policy makers, research institutes/think tanks as well as corporations. Over recent years I have focused heavily on the practical effects – both the political and economic effects – of the growing divide between European politicians and voters. Brexit is one such sensational effect. I have moreover been engaged to apply my perspective on issues ranging from the Baltic Sea security situation to the politics behind the unique Swedish coronavirus situation. For a few years I have also been busy working on a major international multidisciplinary Master Mind project, “Responding to Populism: How to Heal Broken Nations”. The purpose of this project is twofold. The first purpose is to consolidate the thoughts of many of today’s real thought-leaders. Those who are not particularly interested in tribal point scoring of any variety; but are instead primarily driven by arriving at the honest truth. The second purpose is to build on the consolidated findings to arrive at a constructive – and healing – way forward for society. Ambitious? Sure. But luckily I am not alone. I lean on the key output of some of the greatest social science brains on the planet. Given time, as the saying goes, all will be revealed.

ClearThinking

I am politically non-partisan per definition while I believe in counterbalance rather than in the superiority of any individual political ideology. However, I am unafraid to pick sides over individual issues if I conclude that the evidence points clearly in a certain direction. I am fully aware that clients will often need to tread carefully against various stakeholders in society. For political as well as commercial reasons. I have still found that truthful accounts of key trends are most often much appreciated. Even if the findings are offered only behind the scenes.

Twelve themes I often return to – in one shape or form– when asked to produce a report, deliver a speech or when I, in my own capacity, participate in public debate:

  1. Why the present political transition period is much more predictable and the prospects much brighter than the career peddlers of doom and division are saying – and how to use the intellectual confusion to your advantage.
  1. The politically neutral (commercial and technological) power shifts behind the first establishment-vs-the-people divide since the democratic breakthrough. A political outcome which – despite the tribal anger on both sides – has not really been deliberately orchestrated by anyone.
  1. Why academics are more politically influential than ever – and why the intellectual debate is still more one-eyed, more politicised and more “woke” than at any point since the era of royal despotism. Why the symbiotic relationship between the academic sphere and their political paymasters has always been too close for comfort.
  1. The immorality of idealism and virtue signalling – and the vested interests behind every variety of (humourless) moralism.
  1. The pros and cons of a hopelessly anxious (consensus) climate of debate – a hallmark of most small(ish) countries such as Sweden.
  1. The real Brexit story and why things have played out much differently than you might have been led to believe. Especially if you are outside the UK.
  1. Why the UK is now set to outpace the rest of Europe. Despite most establishment bien pensants having for years told us that the UK is destined to lag behind. 
  1. The economic side of internationalism the internationalists do not want you to hear. Why the initial free-trade-and-intact-democracy objectives of the European project can now, ironically, only be achieved by leaving the EU. Why the EU break up really is a question of when, not if; Regardless of the tens of thousands of “EU experts” who, precisely as before the Brexit vote, are (were) paid to shout “outrageous” and “it will never happen”. Why it is only a question of time before “everyone” will pretend they were always EU sceptics.
  1. How Centrists have unexpectedly – and unknowingly even to themselves – turned into de facto radicals and not only in relation to internationalism but also culturally. And why most of us were unwise not to see this coming since radical overshoot dressed up as moderation has always followed when one political camp (it does not matter which one) has been dominating for a long time. How a similar cycle is always playing out when “polished” establishment overshooters and “crude populists” are locking horns.
  1. Why and how Sweden has transformed from a pragmatic Centrist role model into a Centrist idealist cautionary tale; Why Centrist realism and Centrist idealism really are two completely different beasts; How the recent years of astonishing practical ineptitude in Swedish government circles is highly uncharacteristic for Sweden (and for the Social Democrats); How Sweden could fairly swiftly return to its immensely successful past form. 
  1. The key trends today that offer little new to the history of politics and economics – and the special trend features today that truly are unique. Including why the capitals in the developed world are more important than ever as centres of economic entrepreneurship; but now also the last to grasp a general political shift in voter sentiment.
  1. The universal key to yet again revitalising society – and why we keep forgetting this key. As well as why it is no coincidence the traditionally most genuinely democratic and grassroots oriented societies – the Nordics, the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand – have for centuries belonged to the most successful countries on the planet.
Commenting on why it is always destabilising to challenge well established and well respected borders, even when part of a well intended ambition to replace nationalism with supranationalism (not least while the latter tends to turn into super nationalism). Aired on Scope on May 27, 2019

INTERNATIONAL, YES, BUT NO (TOP-DOWN) INTERNATIONALIST

I was born and raised in Sweden and studied at the Stockholm School of Economics (M.Sc Economics). During most of the 21st century I have lived in the United Kingdom. This means I am privileged to have experienced, first-hand, not only the political debate and professional culture of two extraordinary countries; but also the way of life in general. I have simultaneously experienced how the political culture has changed quite dramatically over recent decades. The perhaps most influential general change? In both countries mentioned the connection between politicians and the people was, not long ago, uniquely strong. Rooted in the fact that numerous leaders had spent their formative years on the field of practical reality. Leading to a grassroots understanding of real problems. Slowly but steadily numerous politicians in both countries have slided into the type of top-down territory that typically emanates from too much armchair thinking – and distinguishes just about every unsuccessful society. However, if acknowledging that this is a root cause of today’s troubles there is also a natural way back towards a more truly democratic society. Including a variety of international co-operation that does not – unlike today – look the other way when democracy is eroded. Only then are truly inclusive societies possible. Meaning societies also showing respect for all those who have not turned out winners when voter powers have been transferred from voters to supranationalism institutions. Those who for years have been struggling hard and have yet been met with little but 19th century paternalism and condescension. I am convinced the Nordic co-operation model is the by far best model for international co-operation. In every area the level of co-operation is deeper (and more results oriented) than between EU countries – yet democracy has been left completely intact. History will not prove kind to the EU project despite the tens of thousands of public servants and “experts” paid to say otherwise. We should in fact have known we were asking for massive trouble when handing massive degrees of power to unelected officials in foreign lands. Especially when not even giving the latter clear limits to their powers.