Digitalisation, AI, robots and big data are impacting business models, labour markets and talent needs. Some economists believe that around half of all today’s jobs will be replaced by digital technology within 20 years. Structural transformation is nothing new – jobs disappear and new ones are created – but currently and in the years ahead it is likely that an increasing number of sectors, people and institutions will be affected.
Economic policies must be adapted to handle this transformation. Economic policy often fails to keep up with economic developments, and is usually only adapted to new situations after the economy has gone through a crisis. This creates a risk of goals, rules and regulations becoming ineffective or even inappropriate, which can affect a nation’s competitiveness as well as opportunities for and the well-being of individuals. Digitalisation and new business models have an impact on inflation. How can monetary policy include this in the equation? The financial policy framework includes a surplus goal. How can financial policy meet the surplus goal and the need for investment in education and R&D at the same time?
The Swedish model has worked well for jobs and wage development, but not as well in addressing unemployment. Sweden’s social insurance system is advanced, and attitudes to globalisation are relatively positive among Swedish trade unions and in the private sector. As the pace of development increases, what is the best way for economic policy to support employers and trade unions in meeting the challenges of structural change?
Introduction of keynote speaker Dani Rodrik
Dani Rodrik is a professor of International Political Economy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He conducts research in economics, including globalisation, economic growth, development and economic policy. Professor Rodrik has written several books on globalisation, trade and economic policy.
Professor Rodrik believes that globalisation and free trade benefit nations, but that they can also put opportunities for individual groups in jeopardy. Economic policy must therefore actively address increasing income inequality. Automation, robotics and 3D printing are new technologies, all of which are labour-saving and are increasing the demand for skilled workers and reducing the need for unskilled labour.
Programme and questions for discussion
8.30 – 9.30 a.m. Coffee and registration
9 – 9.45 a.m. Introduction
The need for economic reform in a time of technical development: Professor Dani Rodrik, International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
9.45 – 10.30 a.m. Panel 1: Discussion with Swedish academics
Professor Pontus Braunerhjelm, Royal Institute of Technology, KTH Professor Karolina Ekholm, Stockholm University Questions for discussion:
- Is there a risk of Swedish unemployment rising in the years ahead, or will we be hit by a labour shortage – or both?
- Are changes to job market programmes and wage structures needed?
- Are the economic reforms proposed by Professor Rodrik relevant and needed in Sweden?
- Sweden’s economy is small and open, and dependent on trade and technical development. How should we handle the situation if other nations increase tariffs and protect “their” technology?
10.30 – 11 a.m. Coffee
11– 11.40 a.m. Panel 2: Discussion with entrepreneurs and trade unions
Carl-Henric Svanberg, Chairman of AB Volvo, Chairman of IVA.
Sara Öhrvall, Chief Digital, Customer Experience and Communications Officer, SEB
Mats Kinnwall, Chief Economist, Association of Swedish Engineering Industries (Teknikföretagen)
Katarina Lundahl, Chief Economist, Unionen trade union
Questions for discussion:
- What are the challenges facing Swedish companies, employers and employees as the pace of technical development increases?
- How will the Swedish model work – or not work – in a scenario where the labour market is fundamentally changed?
- How can Sweden and Swedish companies attract global talent if – according to Professor Rodrik’s description – demand for top talent increases?
- What are the most important reforms that policy-makers should introduce to maintain the competitiveness of entrepreneurs and labour market parties?
11.40 a.m. – 12.30 p.m. Panel 3: Discussion with decision-makers in economics and finance
Anna Ekström, Minister for Education and Research
Martin Flodén, Vice Chairman of the Riksbank, professor of economics
Harry Flam, Chairman, Swedish Fiscal Policy Council, professor of economics
Elisabeth Svantesson, economic policy spokesperson for the Moderate Party
Questions for discussion:
- In what way is the Riksbank impacted by technological development and how are labour market parties affected?
- Sweden is a small country with a focus on budgetary discipline and is dependent on the financial markets having confidence in us. How can this be combined with the substantial investments needed in education, R&D and infrastructure to handle technical development and global competition?
- What are the most important reforms with respect to education and R&D on the one hand and the labour market on the other in order to meet the challenges of technical development and global competition?
12.30-12.50 p.m. Summary Dani Rodrik
Moderators: Cecilia Hermansson, Royal Institute of Technology, KTH, and Johan Schück, freelance journalist focusing on economics and the economy