Trust me, I'm Swedish

Written by Katie Stanton, Senior Associate

Edited by Tom Gillingham, Associate Partner


Good morning,


Firstly, I’m not Swedish – I sold out for the title.


Secondly, I wish I were.


For many Brits, life under lockdown is beginning to settle into what I see as a globular lump of days. Minutes and hours tick by in freefall, no longer defined by the peaks and troughs of civilised existence, slipping away like water through an open palm.


Everything bleeds together: work, Netflix, eat, repeat. Sometimes someone has the audacity to suggest something like, “let’s dress up as celebrities for dinner” or “shall we have a game of French cricket” to murmurs of insincere agreement. (For what it’s worth, I’m planning a show-stopping Dolly Parton).


After which everyone just goes back to their own lump of a life and starts hoovering or staring longingly out the window or something.


Meanwhile, the Swedes are laughing. While swathes of Europe’s population languish behind closed doors, Sweden stands almost alone in allowing life to go on much closer to normal.


Schools, kindergartens, bars, restaurants, ski resorts, sports clubs and hairdressers all remain open, weeks after they closed in neighbouring Denmark and Norway. If you fall ill with symptoms, you can return to work or school just two days after you feel better. If a parent shows symptoms, they’re allowed to continue to send their children to school.


The closer you look, the more understandable this approach to schooling, in particular, is. In Sweden there are almost no stay-at-home parents, so closing schools would cripple the health service and other key sectors. More, pushing children back into society may even increase the threat to the elderly, particularly if they are called upon to babysit.


Measures are beginning to tighten slightly – albeit at a comparably glacial pace. Universities have been closed and, on Friday, Stefan Löfven, Sweden’s prime minister, announced that events will be limited to no more than 50 people.


Still, Löfven’s language throughout the crisis has highlighted the importance of individual responsibility and “commonsense behaviour”. This very reasoned and grown up approach is based on something that arguably evaporated very quickly in Blighty: trust.


The people of Sweden seem to trust the advice offered by institutions,

the motives of government, and their fellow Swedes, who will diligently comply with restrictions when they are told to.


Oh well. Since I’m in Somerset rather than Stockholm, I guess it’s back to boardgames and staring at the wall…


News

The prime minister, Boris Johnson, has hailed the return of 20,000 former NHS staff to help the fight against coronavirus. Meanwhile, the UK has reached its target of administering 10,000 coronavirus tests a day, with health and social care workers first in line.


Donald Trump has revealed that the outbreak of Covid-19 “may kill 200,000 Americans” and is expected to peak in two weeks. The US president announced he was extending the 15-day period of social distancing in the country, which was due to expire today, until 30 April.


University College London engineers have worked in conjunction with clinicians and Mercedes Formula One to create a breathing aid that can help keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care. The device, which delivers oxygen to the lungs without needing a ventilator, was created in under a week.


Business and economy

The head of Loganair, the UK’s largest regional airline, has said the firm plans to ask for government support to get through the coronavirus epidemic. Chief executive Jonathan Hinkes said that the crisis has had a severe impact on airlines and that any carrier saying it could survive without government help “would probably be lying”.


Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England, has come under fresh pressure to put a stop to £7.5 billion of dividends due to be paid out by British banks over the next few weeks. (£)


US crude oil prices fell below $20 a barrel shortly after trading reopened on Sunday, close to their lowest level in 18 years, as traders bet production will have to shut to cope with the collapse in demand. The US benchmark, known as West Texas Intermediate, hit a low of $19.92 a barrel, losing more than six per cent.


Columns of note

Vidya Krishnan explains the callousness of India’s Covid-19 response inThe Atlantic.Having denied that any local transmission was taking place, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, issued a shock nationwide lockdown last week. But it may be too late. With case numbers now growing exponentially, the headline-grabbing initiative will do little to address the myriad problems India faces in dealing with the coronavirus. It puts responsibility on citizens and punishes the most vulnerable in society, while doing nothing to solve the systemic problems with public health and safety. (£) 


Writing inThe Guardian,Emma Barnett notes that growing state control over women’s bodies is an unforeseen outcome of the coronavirus crisis. Women are having trouble accessing abortions, contraceptives and IVF, which necessitate a trip to the GPs office – in some cases, for no apparent reason. A potential coronavirus baby boom will “not naturally mean all of those pregnancies are wanted.”


Source: Evening Standard


Markets


The week ahead


As coronavirus death tolls and infection rates rise around the world, governments are poised to introduce more measures to stop the spread of the pandemic. The UK government has warned that the national lockdown may continue beyond the initial three-weeks and further restrictions could be imposed to ensure the health service can cope with the crisis.


Few central banks are slated to set policy and company reporting in the UK has all but dried up following a request from the Financial Conduct Authority for a two-week moratorium on the publication of full-year results.


As such, the focus will fall on economic data over the next few days. The March US non-farm payrolls report this Friday will be one to watch, following last week’s disastrous jobless claims figures, which surged to a record 3.3m. Analysts expect March figures to be the worst in a decade.


There will also be labour market updates from the eurozone, Germany, Italy and Japan, purchasing managers’ index figures from China, and eurozone inflation data.


What's happening today?


Finals Ades Int.hdg

Belvoir

Globaltrans S

Instem Interims

Quadrise Fuels


AGMs

Angus Energy

Bsf Enterprise

Guaranty S

Keras Res

M&G Credit Inc.

Smithson Invest

Temple Bar Investment Trust

UK economic announcements

(08:30) Mortgage Approvals

(09:30) Consumer Credit

(09:30) M4 Money Supply


Int. economic announcements

(10:00) Services Confidence (EU)

(10:00) Industrial Confidence (EU)

(10:00) Consumer Confidence (EU)

(10:00) Economic Sentiment Indicator (EU)

(10:00) Business Climate Indicator (EU)

(15:00) Pending Homes Sales (EU)


Source: Financial Times

Did you know?

A 2019 study determined that baby boomers are actually more sensitive than millennials.


Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

On recess until 21 April (at earliest) to combat the spread of Covid-19


House of Lords

On recess until 21 April (at earliest) to combat the spread of Covid-19


Scottish Parliament

No business scheduled