Nasdaq President Adena Friedman, in her own words, points to the “fairly left-oriented” Sweden as a “counter example to the far-left” of how a government can establish a productive relationship with business that encourages its citizens to participate in the stock market.
“We do a lot of work in Sweden because we own the Swedish exchanges. We have 750 employees, and so we actually get an interesting view into the Swedish system and what is so great about that system.
“It is a small economy. Small country. So you can’t create parallels with the U.S. You can still look at it and say, ‘Wow.’
“What I admire is that it’s very pro-business. Sweden has a very low corporate tax rate.
“It’s also pro-worker. They have a fair amount of rules around working, but you still have the ability to do the right thing for your company, the right thing for employees, and make sure you hire the best talent.”
“At the same time, Swedish society has this huge social system around it that really works.
“Businesses don’t have to pay for pensions. The Swedish government takes care of them. We, Nasdaq, pay into the Swedish social security system there. People don’t pay for education. And they have a great educational system.
“So they have all these different things that help business. They know that business is what’s going to drive their economy. Business is what is going to hire those people. Business is going to make it so that all these things can work.
“You have to decide whether or not you’re going to buy into that.
“They have this great savings plan, which is something I love. They make it so that when you put your money into a certain savings plan that invests in public companies in Sweden. It’s not a retirement plan. They don’t have to be a Swedish company, but they have to be publicly listed on the Swedish exchange.
“They have a flat tax of 1 percent annually of your total holdings. There is not any capitals gains tax.
“If the portfolio goes up, you’re going to pay more, but not on the gains. They are doing it to encourage people to invest in the public stock market.
“What’s really great about it is that Sweden has 50 percent more direct-equity investors as a percent of the population than the rest of Europe. It’s 15 percent.”