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Carl Bildt: War profiteer?

by NordicStorm Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 11:15:30 AM EST

or Why being in the private and public sector at the same time could potentially cause a conflict of interest

The new Swedish centre-right government haven't had an easy couple of months on the job. Almost within minutes of taking office, two scandals broke, resulting in two of the new ministers getting the boot literally days after being appointed.
(update: EuroTrib coverage on those scandals by Laurent GUERBY and A swedish kind of death)

Foreign minister Carl Bildt may be the next to go, whether he likes to or not.

From the diaries -- whataboutbob


First there was the story of his involvement in Vostok Nafta, a holding company who primarily own stock in Russian gas giant Gazprom, who wants to build a pipeline in the Baltic Sea. Bildt, in his position as Swedish foreign minister, would certainly be able to  exert some influence on the Swedish government's position towards that pipeline.

But it seems nary a day goes by without a new scandal in Rosenbad. Which brings us to the story hinted at in the title, and which truly is beyond the pale. From one of Sweden's premiere tabloid news rags, Expressen, columnist Lars Lindström (in Swedish, naturally):

Säg som det är om Sudan, Carl Bildt!

Gång på gång upprepar utrikesminister Carl Bildt samma sak.
Lundin Petroleum, där han fortfarande äger aktier, har "ingen egen verksamhet i Sudan".
Det är inte sant, och här är dokumenten som avslöjar honom.
Lundin Petroleum, i vars styrelse Carl Bildt satt till den 6 oktober, redovisade detaljerat sin verksamhet på en Capital Market Day 30 januari i år. I presentationen ingick som en mycket viktig del de aktiviteter i Sudan som Carl Bildt påstår inte existerar.

Tell it like it is about Sudan, Carl Bildt!

Time and again foreign minister Carl Bildt repeats the same thing.
Lundin Petroleum, in which he still owns stock, has "no activity of its own in Sudan."
That's not true, and here are the documents that proves him wrong.
Lundin Petroleum, where Carl Bildt was a member of the board until October 6th [2006], presented in great detail its activities on a Capital Market Day on January 30th this year. The activities in Sudan, which Carl Bildt claims don't exist, were an essential part of the presentation.

Eftersom Carl Bildt satt i styrelsen torde han äga kunskap om styrelseordföranden Ian Lundins goda kontakter med Sudans regering, och att man var överens om att Lundin Petroleum ska fortsätta att exploatera sin oljekoncession i Sudan.Since Carl Bildt was a member of the board he ought to have had knowledge of chairman Ian Lundin's good contacts with the government of Sudan, and that they were in agreement that Lundin Petroleum would continue to exploit its oil concession in Sudan.

Lundin Petroleum fick 1,2 miljarder kronor när företaget 2003 sålde sin första oljekoncession i Sudan, kallad Block 5A. Även det projektet drevs av ett konsortium, där Bildts grabbar stod för 40,4 procent.Lundin Petroleum received 1.2 billion SEK when the company in 2003 sold its first oil concession in Sudan, called Block 5A. This projekt was also run by a consortium, where Bildt's boys runs 40.4 procent.

(rough translation mine)

The column goes on to state that Bildt potentially stands to make a lot of money out of Lundin Petroleum's dealings with the Sudanese government. To paraphrase a recent episode of The Daily Show, that is the definition of a conflict of interest!
According to the column, Bildt has not once mentioned Sudan during his tenure as foreign minister. A quick perusal of Bildt's English-language blog reveals only a brief mention in passing of Sudan.

What's astonishing is his refusal to even acknowledge it could be perceived as a problem that he served as member of the board on not one, but two companies who may be affected by his decisions and influence as foreign minister. The scandals that brought down the two other ministers pale in comparison to what Bildt is doing here. Just resigning from the boards doesn't cut it. At a bare minimum he ought to have gotten rid of his stock before taking office, and even then the suspicions would linger that he'd be doing favours for his former colleagues.

If I were prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, I'd boot Bildt's ass now and try to salvage what little credibility the right-wing bloc has left.

Display:
Almost within minutes of taking office, two scandals resulted in two of the new ministers getting the boot literally days after being appointed.

There was also ET coverage from Laurent GUERBY and from A swedish kind of death.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 08:07:58 AM EST
Oh yeah, good point. I updated the diary with those links,thanks!

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 08:18:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent post...thanks for the breaking (pre-breaking?) news!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 11:14:23 AM EST
I should add, I think we should be having some more government war profiteer scandals coming our way too (hopefully...). Its about time this stuff hits the news!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 11:17:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks...credit for breaking it should go to Expressen, but it's pretty damn outrageous, isn't it? This is Dick Cheney / Halliburton territory.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 11:24:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Without having looked into this supposed scandal in detail, I'd just like to point out that there has been a media campaign in the best traditions of Murdoch against Bildt, with lots of disinformation.  

A part of this might be due to the quite extraordinary incompetence of Swedish journalists (it took about two months of digging until they understood what a stock option is and how they work), partly that they hate Bildt like pestilence (former conservative pm, had a career after politics, nobleman etc) and partly that Bildt refuse to do the journalists work for them.

With that I mean that he use terms they don't understand (like stock option) and very carefully chooses his words*, and has an incredibly haughty mannerism and a very typical accent, a bit like the southern drawl of Sweden. And he absolutely refuse to do what we in Sweden call "tala med bönder på bönders vis", that is "talk to peasants in the way of peasants". He doesn't go down in the mud where the journalists live, and they hate him for it.

* And he has no qualms about fooling the journalists and making them look silly without really lying. For example, he was interviewed on live national television by the no. 1 reporter (Jarl Alfredius) at the state TV news, who asked him why he owned shares (in some oil company or other) instead of mutual funds. Cold as ice, Bildt bluffs by saying "Dear Jarl, funds also consist of shares!". Poor Jarl who has no idea what a fund really is (as he is an incompetent Swedish journalist) sits there with his mouth open for several seconds, looking like a fish.

I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. What Jarl should have answered is "Yes Mr. Bildt, but owning shares mean you might have loyalty to the profit interest of this company, while when owning a fund you have money in so many differnt companies that you can't really favor any of them".

But he didn't say that. And Bildt bet that he was incompent and was right. Great entertainment.

Ps. My pathological hate of Swedish journalists might or might no cloud my judgement.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 05:40:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One more interesting thing is that this company that allegedly operates in Sudan, Lundin Petroleum, is a big sponsor of the research made by ASPO, the Association for the Study of Peak Oil&Gas.

I have written a tiny bit about the company in an earlier diary: A few words of wisdom from Lundin Petroleum

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 05:44:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So Bildt is smart, and a smartass. He knows he has conflicts of interests but he thinks the press is too stupid to argue the case with any merit, and he may be right, until a government auditor gets to his case.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 05:46:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the earlier so called scandal (Vostok Nafta (that is, Gazprom)) there was no conflict of interest, just journalists not understanding how stock options work, and Bildt had no hurry in enlightening them, preferring a media storm that went out with a wimper letting the journalists look silly.

This time, I can't as of yet say if the journalists have a real case or not. They might have.

But sure, he is a smartass and pisses people off. A bit like Olof Palme really, except that he was a soc dem (in spite of also being a nobleman).

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 05:59:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Being a contemptuos nobleman certainly doesn't make him a sympathetic character.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 06:03:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The only interesting one since last pm Göran Persson (contempous soc dem wannabe nobleman) and Olof Palme (contempous soc dem pm and nobleman, assasinated in 1986).

These guys are the only thing that make Swedish politics interesting. Without them it would be like bricks in frozen mud.

Ok, we also had a wonderful soc dem minster for a short while called Jan O Karlsson who was extremely pompous because he had had some important EU job (he always pointed it out to people) and did fun things like calling George W. Bush "that fucking Texas guy" in an angry voice when he thought no one was listening. :)

Oh and we had that great soc dem Björn Rosengren who called Norway "the last Soviet republic" when they didn't want to merge thir national telecom company with ours, the fun thing of course being that it is Sweden which is the last Soviet republic.

Ah, and the soc dem minister of Finance Bosse Ringholm who failed math in school and actually reminded everyone of a brick in frozen mud, that is until he started forgotting to hang up the phone after talking to journalist. This happened like three times in just a few months and he said thing that convinced at least a part of the population that he was indeed a human and not an android, like "all police men are so fucking lazy".

Ah the memories.

But you see, as I can recall all the fun things that happened in Swedish politics the last half a decade, it usually is like bricks in frozen mud.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 06:23:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So the only thing that makes Swedish politics interesting is pompous people.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 04:27:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Welcome to country Average.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 09:49:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, by the way, are you noble?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 10:04:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nope.

Endless ranks of farmers on my mothers side and general bourgeois on my fathers. Who were farmers before that too, of course, about 150 years ago.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 10:22:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be France. Sweden is part of the Anglo-Nordic model for open Europe.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 10:04:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I wouldn't say that. France is after all, and has always been, a strenously independent country with their own nukes and everything. For most of the cold war official Sweden seemed sorry only Finland and not us became "Finlandisized".

(A word I hate by the way, considering the Finnish efforts in WW2.)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 10:26:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, I just found an interesting thing. Bildt has this blog. And he writes about what he does and thinks about issues and recently he made an official statement there about the North Korea deal, just writing it with a different font.

The interesting thing is that in a few hours it had been quoted in an Canadian news outlet, from the blog.

This says less about Bildt and more about ET and other web based communication, but still a little interesting.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 06:36:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Official statements on the blog? Wow!

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 04:28:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Aah, so it's just the vast left-wing media conspiracy that has it in for Bildt. Dangit, I should have known!

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 05:58:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's right, though that in itself doesn't mean he hasn't done anything wrong.

VLWC+guilty Bildty might be the case.

By the way, you should have heard the Russian ambassdor yesterday on radio.

He was pissed of at Swedish media making Russians look bad whenever possible and for propagandizing and lying about the Baltic gas pipeline. Actually, he was completely right about everything he said, even though he did use some very colorful language for a diplomat.

Like saying the entire discussion was "idiotic", that the people reporting about it (Swedish journalists) were "idiots" (duh) and that "the people who report about this to their superiors [in the Swedish armed forces and civil service) surely must be idiots".

He also said that the allegation pushed by Swedish media that a compressor tower for the pipeline of Gotland would be used as a spy base was "idiotic" as "we can read the number plates on every car in Stockholm in real time from space satellites if we want to. Not that we do. But we could."

Another fantastic interview that made me laugh so hard my stomach hurt. Even better that I met the journalist (only competent one in Sweden, specialising in energy and international relations) later that evening and had a chat.

Just like I think, he believed all the Swedish opposition to the pipe line was due to domestic issues, that is the biofuel industry feeling threatened by gas and the nuclear industry which knows that without nat gas sooner or later new reactors will be built.

Whew! Long post.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 06:10:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd be inclined to agree there's a definite anti-Russian bias, I would extend that to the Finnish media as well...artefacts from the Cold War and some good old fashioned xenophobia, I suppose.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 06:20:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Part that, part journalists who couldn't find Russia on a  map and gladly swallows all propaganda even if it comes from obvious people like the biofuel and nuclear industries and the Navy which just wants more money to spend on ships and submarines.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 06:25:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not that I care really. I like nuclear and biofuels, ships and subs. But it's still embarassing that our media is not really "free", but not because reporters are opressed but because they are lazy and incompetent.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 06:41:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You like biofuels?? Nuclear I cna understand, but biofuels?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 10:05:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cellulosic biofuels from the huge Swedish forest.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 10:09:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Biofuels generate about as much energy as nuclear and hydro combined in Sweden. Mainly in heating and industry.

And if we can get liquid biofuels working in a good way, that would be great.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 10:20:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean biomass then. Biofuels usually has the narrower meaning of fuel (for transport) from biological sources.

Biomass I perfectly understand. Forests can demonstrably be managed sustainably.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 01:50:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That said, wouldn't it perhaps be a more reasonable explanation that they're smelling blood in the water, having already brought down two ministers and always on the prowl for the next scandal to sell some papers, rather than personal animosity towards Bildt?

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 06:34:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Could be.

Journalists attack politicans when they can, irrespective of political allegiance. But they do attack with extra fervor when it's someone they hate.

But then, they smelled blood in the water before and it turned out it was just paint.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 06:38:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is kind of unsurprising from a government of kleptocrats.

From Trond Ove in a previous diary comment:


And these paradigms of moral virtue promised to sell 500 billion SEK worth of publicly owned companies over the next four years... I guess there will be more members of Moderatarna buying summer homes in Jersey in the near future.

Privatization rolling: a great hole in the collective bank account of Sweden citizens by a band of robbers.

I guess Starvid will be calling for the communist to return to power soon :) :).

by Laurent GUERBY on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 02:08:53 PM EST
It's quite astonishing, isn't it. This bunch campaigned on, oh I don't know, being better than the SDP. But in a mere few months they've made two things abundantly clear:
  1. They have no idea how to govern
  2. They're all a bunch of upper-class twits, the lot of them, who don't give a rat's ass about the Swedish people

It's especially obvious when it comes to Bildt, who seems to be under the impression that he's making an enormous personal sacrifice by serving in the Swedish government, and the Swedish people should be falling head over heels to thank him for it. Maybe the Messiah should return to the private sector if it's such a bother.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 02:48:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not at all!

I have no problem at all with selling these public companies as they are not in any way strategic (it's alcohol (Vin&Sprit), air transit (SAS), a bank (SBAB), gambling (Svenska Spel) and such) while they (gov) have been extremely clear that they will not sell the national (and hugely profitable) iron mines (LKAB) and power company (Vattenfall).

Though I have no problem with privatising some of the power - I fail to see why the Swedish people have a national interest in German coal plants and coal mines. Actually selling Swedish power plants (nuke, hydro) to heavy industry would not be a bad idea either, provided that they can't be sold to anyone but the state at a later time. But reregulation of the power market would be ten times better.

Ironically the soc dems have started mumbling about just that, in spite of it is they (with rightwing support) who disastrously deregulated it in the first place and had 10 years to overturn that decision.

By the way, the money from the privatisations will not go to tax cuts but exclusively to paying down the national debt, an extremely good thing as it means money can be loaned later when it's really needed.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 05:23:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm surprised an ET'er would fall for such a dumb accounting scam.


By the way, the money from the privatisations will not go to tax cuts but exclusively to paying down the national debt, an extremely good thing as it means money can be loaned later when it's really needed.

Of course the dumb number reported by low-IQ journalists will go down.

But net debt (assets minus liabilities), the real interesting number for people with a brain will not go down, at best it will stay the same, but as usual with privatization price will be half the real prize : in conclusion the debt will go up and a few crooks will be richer.

Read the french "Cour des Comptes" report if you want to see how TV-reported debt "reduction" is described by real accounting people.

by Laurent GUERBY on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 02:40:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a really big subject there you might like to explain more about?

What's the Cour des comptes report? Which one?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 02:51:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've not read the latest report in full, here is an overview:


La baisse du taux d'endettement en 2006, dont le gouvernement s'est félicité, "constitue un signal positif", renchérit la Cour.

"Toutefois, elle ne s'explique pas par la diminution du déficit public mais a été obtenue, d'une part par des cessions d'actifs publics, d'autre part, par une diminution de l'encours de trésorerie de l'Etat", nuancent les magistrats de la rue Cambon.

"Ces mesures ne constituent pas une voie durable de désendettement : le potentiel d'actifs cessibles n'est pas infini et l'Etat a besoin de conserver un niveau suffisant de trésorerie pour faire face à ses paiements", poursuivent-ils.

"En outre, elles n'améliorent pas la situation patrimoniale de l'Etat, puisqu'à la diminution du passif (la dette) correspond, au bilan de l'Etat, une diminution identique de l'actif (les actifs publics et les disponibilités de trésorerie)", relèvent-ils.

The Cour des Comptes official site

by Laurent GUERBY on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 06:37:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Check the show "c'est dans l'air" from yesterday

http://www.france5.fr/cdanslair/index.cfm

Guests :

 Philippe Séguin

Ancien ministre des Affaires sociales et de l'Emploi entre 1986 et 1988, Philippe Séguin est premier président de la Cour des comptes. Il a été également président de l'Assemblée nationale française, de 1993 à 1997, et président du Rassemblement pour la république (qui a précédé l'UMP), de 1997 à 1999.

 Jacques Marseille

Professeur d'histoire économique à l'université Paris-I-Sorbonne, Jacques Marseille y dirige l'Institut d'histoire économique et sociale. Déjà auteur des ouvrages La guerre des deux France, paru chez Plon, et Le grand gaspillage, réédité en 2005 aux éditions Perrin, son dernier livre, Les bons chiffres pour ne pas voter nul en 2007, vient de paraître chez le même éditeur.

 Emmanuel Lechypre

Economiste de formation, Emmanuel Lechypre est rédacteur en chef de L'Expansion et responsable de son "centre de prévision", un bureau d'analyse et de prévision économiques.

 Patrick Pelloux

Médecin, Patrick Pelloux exerce au service des urgences de l'hôpital Saint-Antoine, à Paris. Il est également président de l'Association des Médecins Urgentistes Hospitaliers de France (AMUHF) depuis 1998, qui rassemble environ 2 000 praticiens.

 Elie Cohen

Economiste, Elie Cohen est directeur de recherches CNRS au Centre de recherches politiques de Sciences-Po. Il est également membre du Conseil d'analyse économique auprès du Premier ministre et enseigne les sciences économiques à l'Institut politique de Paris. Il est l'auteur de plusieurs livres, parmi lesquels Le nouvel âge du capitalisme et L'ordre économique mondial, parus aux éditions Fayard en 2005 et 2000.

you can see the video on the site

Among the most amazing statements (which I believe is true) is that 100 billions Euro could be saved every year if the money didn't go to completelely inneficient systems like the "formation professionelle" or to the civil servants pensions if they retire to... Tahiti among other "pearls". Seguin didn't say against.

Besides there is plenty of money to be saved in national education, the hospital system etc... or to put it another way the money spent could be used with far better results.

The keywords in that story :

  • local (particular) interests rule
  • nobody wants to touch to archaic systems
  • the culture of control and evaluation of state functions doesn't exist in France

In my opinion, this is the key of the future of French economy since the money saved could at least be invested in sectors that need it like research, universities. A real welfare could be established, thus lowering social tensions and attitudes promoting development.
by oldfrog on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 08:23:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That argument is entirely based on the state being incompetent at privatising. This does not really agree with the recent experience of this in Sweden. For example, the state sold a part of the national telecom a few years back, for 85 kr per share. Currently it stands at about 30 kr per share. The same thing should hold true for the national air carrier, better sell it before peak oil really bites and lowers the value of it.

Furthermore, what should be compared is the income generated by the state companies and the income (or reduced expense in the form of interest) by reducing the national debt.

If the market is ready to buy the companies for a good price and they are not strategic, they should be sold. If you don't agree with this the logical extension is that the state should constantly be on the lookout to buy non-strategic companies with public money.

I don't agree at all with that. That decision should be left to the public.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 10:02:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree that selling things two times their properly estimated value by a competent vendor is always a great idea (unless monopoly, etc...). Incredible?

However, my point is that given the rampant current government corruption we're more likely to see half of the price than two times the price.

About profit vs interest, profits below interest are either a subvention of the state to consumers (or workers of these companies) or a real inefficiency, so it's not always clear cut. And the public company was efficient because of access to low interest rate, the private one will just raise prices.

The "reducing the debt" argument is just idiocy in all cases (and crowding out is just nonsense in the current environment).

by Laurent GUERBY on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 11:43:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The arrogance of corruption never ceases to amaze me.  

Thank you for writing this because I realize how ignorant I am by reading anglo press only, where Scandinavia does not make the headlines and I stay stuck in the "benign, advanced countries" frame of mind.

Please keep us updated.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 03:47:38 PM EST
interesting stuff found while googling a little :

Christian Aid asked Lundin the following questions:

Why does Lundin refuse to acknowledge that human rights violations have occurred in its concession area?

How does Lundin justify employing people who worked for the militia of Paulino Matip - one of the militia leaders responsible for human rights abuses in its concession area?

The Harker report, commissioned by the Canadian government, said that the war in southern Sudan would continue as long as oil is pumped. In this light, how can Lundin justify continuing operations?

Will Lundin admit that roads and airstrips in its concession area have been used by the military in their campaign to depopulate the oil areas?

Why does Lundin, while publicising its own relief and development efforts, not speak out over the denial of humanitarian access to Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS)


http://www.christian-aid.org.uk/news/media/pressrel/010403p.htm

otherwise according to Dagens Nyheter there was complete unity with the social-democrats about the Swedish foreign policy at the recent special parliamentary debate...

oil is thicker than blood, even in Sweden

PS : Kalle Bildt said Russia = bad. What's new ?

by oldfrog on Wed Feb 14th, 2007 at 07:37:47 PM EST
The Harker report, commissioned by the Canadian government, said that the war in southern Sudan would continue as long as oil is pumped.
And still, oil is pumped, more than ever, and the war is finally over.

I have a problem with demonizing the oil companies. They are not bad people who like to do evil things. There just happens to be so that oil is usually found in lands where bad people are in charge (though arguably those in charge are bad because there is oil around... anyway).

What would happen if we banned Lundin Petroleum and Chevron and Exxon from operating in Sudan? Sinopec or someone else who don't care would do it instead. And as oil is a fungible commodity absolutely nothing would change on the ground.

If you want oil you have to deal with these bad people who have oil. But oil companies don't want oil. They want profits. Consumers want oil, and they get insanely pissed off (at OPEC, oil companies, politicians etc) whenever oil gets more expensive or someone talks about a higher gasoline tax.

Consumers are the problem. If you think oil companies operating in nasty places is a bad thing, drive less, fly less, use less plastic, eat locally grown food and so on. But I guess it is far more easy to complain at the evil oil companies than changing life style, even marginally (how hard is it to drive a small car compared to a big, or taking the train whenever possible?).


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 12:33:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. This one is more for Starvid. It's true that too many journalists are idiots, and I can imagine that much brought up against Bildt in the past is silly. But what about the present charges pertaining to Sudan? Has Bildt hinted at any concrete error by the journalists?

  2. Could this bad press for Bildt have to do something with a third force: the PM's circle? If I recall correctly, Bildt lost out in a leadership contest to the new generation, but the latter would still like to get rid of his overbearing influence.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 03:08:03 AM EST
At the very best Bildt is engaging in Clintonesque parsings as to what exactly constitutes activities in Sudan. Still, having been a member of the board in the company is a bit troublesome.

Could just be press gossip, but PM Reinfeldt and Bildt reportedly don't see eye to eye on many a thing. I'm sure Bildt, having previously been prime minister himself, not being the top dog anymore can cause some friction.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde

by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 03:19:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
1. I don't know yet. The current hubbub seem to be that Bildt said that Lundin Petroleum hasn't got any own activities in Sudan while not mentioning that they indeed had a big share (25-50 % IIRC) in a development consortium in Sudan (southern, not Darfur). Very much in character for him, and it took 6 months for the journalists to manage to understand what he meant.

No papers or anything, not even Expressen, are biting at this story. Either because it is empty, or because they think it might be Bildt trying to make them look silly again, or maybe because they think the public is not interested in Bildt scandals anymore. At the moment I can't say what it is. But I bet that if they do press on, Bildt has another card up his sleeve.*

2. No, I don't think so. The tension between the pm and Bildt seem to be a thing of the past and I think Bildt is happy as foreign minister. He always seemed much more interested in that than in domestic policies.

And allegedly, Bildt is the one who got the pm into the Bilderberg meeting in Ottawa last years, before he even became pm.

Bildt has connections and know many important people in many important places, especially in Moscow, Washington and Bruxelles. Even if he has these potentially embarassing oil shares he is still, actually, a national asset.

* He did make a mistake a way back and the journalists were slavering at him as they really had something real on him. He had said that he had, 1000 (or something) Legg Mason options when he in reality had 1100. Then he just wrote on his blog that he was sorry and had made a n accounting mistake, and I actually am sure he really had.

The journalist were angry that someone would miss options worth tens of thousands of euros but just managed to look like as they hadn't managed to make a few million euros, no one should. So even there he won.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 09:47:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the past several years.

I met him sometime in 2000 in Austin (state capitol of Texas) and he was exactly how you describe. I remember a lame joke about cell phones, how once Swedes used to have it cheap (perhaps) and now (then) the US market had exploded and prices dropped getting phones into everyone's hands, etc.

The thing that irked me the most was he totally avoided my question to him on Swedish integration into the EU, which was the topic of the day- I'd asked what powers/authority would be sent to Brussels and he basically said none, in the same sort of way described above.

Also, in re to war profiteering, I seem to recall hearing that Swedish banks (or perhaps one inparticuliar) was/were primarily investing in military/defence and porn, so perhaps this is not so shocking as many in the country may be doing as well.

by borkitekt on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 06:29:11 AM EST
Also, in re to war profiteering, I seem to recall hearing that Swedish banks (or perhaps one inparticuliar) was/were primarily investing in military/defence and porn, so perhaps this is not so shocking as many in the country may be doing as well.

The bottom line is that there seem to be an awful lot of people who have a financial interest in maintaining the status quo in Sudan. Which unfortunately isn't that surprising, but it's pretty damn sad nevertheless.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde

by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 06:37:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is peace now in southern Sudan, after 2 million deaths and decades of war. An important reason that peace finally was reached is that both sides saw they could profit from the oil.
 

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Feb 15th, 2007 at 10:17:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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