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 are going 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 “idealists”. The latter will often have little or no useful experience when facing real life challenges. They will however master the art of keeping the fight alive through tribal moralism (idealism). Every major problem will soon be blamed on their “evil” opponents. Instead of acknowledging the overshoot problem even more of the same will be on offer. Thereby the scene will be set for a fierce political backlash, perhaps equally dogmatic anti-establishment rivals and an acrimonious “culture war”. Meaning it will not be the finest hour of the human race. Moderate voters, those who prefer balanced choices made by politicians who pay more than lip service to the fact that most political actions involve trade-offs, might not feel 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 group-think will always turn into a hallmark of every political camp sufficiently strong to dominate the political scene for a stretch of time.

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 trend analysis that rises above the noise while produced in a both multidimensional and realist (no-nonsense) vein. 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 is often reliably wrong in a totally predictable way. Including both political forecasts and macroeconomic forecasts. 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. The latter is not only true for individual organisations – both in the private sector and political sphere – but also for society at large.

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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 political and economic – of the growing divide between politicians and voters. Brexit is one such sensational manifestation I have dedicated plenty of attention. 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 while now 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 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, in relation to individual issues I am unafraid to take sides if I conclude that the evidence points clearly in a certain direction. Especially when of the opinion that society is in desperate need of pushback against group-think taken too far.

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.
  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 its political paymasters has indeed always been too close for comfort.
  1. The immorality of idealism and virtue signalling – and the vested interests behind every variety of (humourless) moralism. How big business is using moralism to deflect attention from how it is using its lobbyist clout to push smaller competitors out of business. How and why legislators play along.
  1. The pros and cons of a hopelessly anxious (consensus) climate of debate – a hallmark of most small(ish) countries such as Sweden. Why the Nordic co-operation model – close co-operation in every area but, crucially, without eroding democracy – is much superior to the EU co-operation model.
  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 member countries of the organisation it just left. Politically and economically. Despite most establishment bien pensants having for years insisted that the UK is destined to lag behind. Why the era of unprecedented monetary policies – decades of boosting through artificially cheap money – threatens the UK economy much more than Brexit. But not more than most other economies.
  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, just as before the Brexit vote, are (were) paid to shout “outrageous” and “it will never happen”. Why it is also only a question of time before “everyone” will pretend they were always EU sceptics.
  1. Populism and the future of Democracy. 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 has been dominating for a long time (it does not matter which one). How a populist counteraction has been inevitable. Why a cycle of mutual acrimony and mudslinging will always, also inevitably, play 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, one highly detrimental and one highly useful. How the recent years of only pretend moderation within official Swedish circles – illustrated sensationally during the migration crisis as well as the coronavirus crisis – should be seen as aberrations from Sweden’s long history of pragmatism, policy balance and result orientation. What Sweden must do to 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 that truly are unique. Including why the capitals in the developed world are more important than ever as centres of economic entrepreneurship – but also why the movers and shakers in the capital now tend to be 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. How to create a society which is truly inclusive while not only empowering groups automatically empowered in a Centrist/metropolitan/globalist society (women, non-heterosexuals and ethnic minorities) but also those who in relative terms have lost out (native working class).
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 CO-OPERATION, YES PLEASE, BUT NOT (TOP-DOWN) INTERNATIONALISM

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.

Then again, if acknowledging that the weaker connection to realities on the ground is a root cause of today’s troubles there is also a natural way back towards yet again more democratic societies. Including a variety of international co-operation that does not – like internationalism – look the other way when democracy is eroded. Meaning showing respect for those previously discriminated as well as those who have not turned out winners during the globalist transformation. Only thereafter are truly inclusive as well as politically stable societies possible. Most people know this. Much of today’s problems are linked to career politicians joining forces with vested interests, often unknowingly, to try to make us believe that international co-operation is not possible without transferring considerable amounts of money and power – surprise, surprise – their way. As soon as a critical mass of people has stopped sanctioning such nonsense it is perfectly possible for society to move forward constructively.