Meidner Plan

Rosser Jr, John Barkley rosserjb at
Sun Jan 24 14:07:22 PST 1999


The only caveat on your presentation of this is that I believe it took the replacement of the Social Democratic government by a Conservative ("Moderate") government in Sweden to actually bring about the official end of the scheme. Otherwise I believe your analysis is reasonably accurate. Barkley Rosser On Sat, 23 Jan 1999 11:24:13 -0500 Doug Henwood <dhenwood at> wrote:

> Michael Pollak wrote:
> >Speaking of socialism creeping in by means of the stock market, does
> >anyone remember Meidner Plan or what happened to it? Back in the early
> >80's when Sweden's economy was still humming along and unionization was
> >still over 80% of the workforce, the Swedish Social Democrats proposed to
> >invest union pension funds in the stock market at such a rate that they
> >would own more than half the assets of the country within 10 years. And
> >there wasn't much opposition to it at the time. I think the plan even
> >went through it's initial stage. But since I've never heard of it again,
> >I assume it was all for nought, and I was wondering what happened to it.
> >Especially since it seems to be the spectre haunting Allan Greenspan. If
> >anyone has a cite, I'm all eyes.
> I have a little bit about this in Wall Street:
> <quote>
> The lesson of the Swedish wage-earner funds should be chastening to
> pension-fund reformers (Pontusson 1984; 1987; 1992). The funds were
> originally conceived by social democratic economists as a scheme for
> socializing ownership of corporations. In the original mid-1970s proposal,
> firms would have been required to issue new shares, in amounts equal to 20%
> of their annual profits, to funds representing wage-earners as a
> collective. In the space of a decade or two, these funds would acquire
> dominant, and eventually controlling, interests in corporate Sweden.
> This idea scandalized business, which launched a great campaign to
> discredit it - a task that was greatly simplified by the fact that the
> funds never attracted broad popular support. The Social Democrats and the
> unions watered the plan down, and a weak version was adopted in the early
> 1980s. The funds quickly began behaving like ordinary pension funds; their
> managers, in a vain attempt at legitimation, began trading stocks in an
> effort to beat the market averages. Eventually, late in the decade, the
> wage-earner funds were euthanized.
> Why did they fail? For at least two reasons. First, business correctly saw
> the initial version as a challenge to capitalist ownership, a reminder that
> finance is central to the constitution of a corporate ruling class. And
> second, they never attracted popular support - essential to any serious
> challenge to a corporate ruling class - because they were so abstract. As
> Pontusson (1992, p. 237) put it, "when collective shareholding funds are
> reduced to deciding whether to buy shares in Volvo or Saab," it's hard to
> muster popular enthusiasm. More direct interventions are required - active
> public industrial policy and greater worker control at the firm level - if
> ordinary people are to get interested. The stock market, on the other hand,
> is the home turf of financiers, and any games played on their turf usually
> end up being played by their rules.
> </quote>

-- Rosser Jr, John Barkley rosserjb at

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