Monday, February 23, 2009

Prospect of Healthy Change Spooks Wall Street

The Dow keeps falling, reaching ever new lows, and some Wall Street analyst are blaming Barack Obama and his team for the sad state of the market. They complain that the investors are confused, and don't know the rules anymore, because the government are changing them. 

In a way, they are right, because from Wall Street's point of view, the new administration is doing exactly what it set out to do - to bring change, and change means insecurity, and makes it harder to apply the old models and rules of thumb. This is as it should be, because Wall Street has forsaken most of its credibility by pursuing short term greed so recklessly that it almost brought down the world's financial and economic system. Very few on Wall Street, and in the Republican Party complained when CEO's awarded themselves 100's of millions in bonuses for what we now know was a mostly fictitious performance. That was the order many Wall Street gurus and financiers want to return to as it made it so easy to make outrageous profits from doing no good. But that order is gone, imploded under the weight of greed and corruption. 

Barack Obama stepped into this chaos, and started to clean up the mess, but doing so he is bound to ruffle the feathers of those who profited from the Bush era corruption of the markets. It will take some time before the force of the new regime, and the new reforms will be felt and understood. Once that is done, share will start to move up again, but not driven by derivates and Bernie Maddoff style shenanigans, but but companies pursuing real opportunities, making real things and providing services we really need. It might not go as fast as it did before the latest bubble burst, but neither will it deflate as easily.

Hans Sandberg

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Change to Green at House of Sweden

SACC-USA (the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce in the U.S.) held a clean tech seminar at House of Sweden on February 6th together with the Embassy of Sweden. Speakers from Colorado, Michigan and Georgia stressed the importance of Swedish technology and know-how input to make America’s energy system greener.

Chemrec's U.S. CEO Rick LeBlanc at the Change to
Green seminar. Photo: Hans Sandberg
The seminar, which attracted over 150 people, was arranged in cooperation with the Embassy of Sweden, Sweden’s National Property Board, and the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce in Washington. D.C. The Swedish Embassy treated visitors to the seminar to a special “Embassy of Sweden Edition” of my book Swedish-American Currents.

The "Embassy of Sweden Edition”
of my book. Photo: Hans Sandberg
Besides representatives for the three states, there were speakers from the Green Building Council, Swedish Bioenergy Association (Svebio), and Chemrec’s new U.S. subsidiary. The latter company has developed a technique that can turn a pulp and paper mill into a biorefinery, while still machine paper or pulp. Potentially revolutionary stuff, as it could save thousands of jobs and make many cities much less dependent of foreign oil. (For a full report from the Change to Green conference, see the next issue of Currents magazine!)

House of Sweden, Washington, D.C.
Photo: Hans Sandberg

The secret behind Sweden’s lead in alternative energy is that the country never allowed itself to surf on cheap oil, but taxed it high, which gave room for the alternatives, that now are ready for primetime. Back in the 1970’s, Sweden’s oil dependency was 77 percent, but it is quickly dwindling and should be phased out by 2020.

Hans Sandberg