What do you do as a government and a governing party when your party secretary launches an all-out attack on Swedish industry and accuses investors for deliberately taking money out of firms and withholding investments in order to damage the chances of the Social Democratic party in the 2006 elections?
Answer: It depends.
If you are the Minister of Trade and Commerce, you declare that levels of investments have been unusually high good during 2005 and that this is a sign of a strong economic development with investments in growth oriented industries.
If you are the Finance Minister, you declare that because the economy is booming companies shouldn’t pay dividends to investors. The Finance Minister, it should be noted, is often seen as a close ally to the Prime Minister.
And if you are a public broadcaster, you go through the quarterly reports of the largest Swedish companies and discover that the largest dividends had been paid by state-owned companies to the Swedish state.
Here I should note that during later years the Swedish state has often been critizised for being excessively zealous in demanding dividends from state owned-companies with the strategy leading to financial problems for the companies (the railway company SJ nearly went bankrupt in 2004) or excessive costs for organisations and individuals who use – or are forced to use – products or services from those companies (one example is the pseudo-market controlled by Akademiska Hus and which colleges and universities have to negotiate).