Stefan Fölster is an economist and the Managing Director of the Reform Institute, a market-oriented think tank in Stockholm with a focus on innovative reforms. He was previously the Chief Economist for the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise. He has authored many articles and books, including the recent Renaissance of Reforms published jointly by the IEA and Timbro.
He is the author, with Dag Detter, of the landmark book The Public Wealth of Nations: How Management of Public Assets Can Boost or Bust Economic Growth (Palgrave, 2015), which argues that publicly-owned commercial assets need to be taken out of the control of politicians. This radical, reforming book shows that to do so would increase global living standards and improve the fabric of democratic institutions across the world.
‘The public sector balance sheet does not only have liabilities. It also has assets. Managing those assets well is at least as important as managing the liabilities. Here the authors show how big, undervalued and mismanaged public assets generally are.’ Martin Wolf, Financial Times, ‘Economics Books of the Year’
‘Governments have trillions of dollars in assets, from companies to forests, but they are often poorly managed. Two investment experts explain how things could be improved by ring-fencing assets from political meddling in independent holding companies. Professional managers could sweat them as if they were privately owned.’ The Economist, ‘Books of the Year’
‘Dag Detter and Stefan Fölster hark back to Adam Smith with their slightly audacious title The Public Wealth of Nations. But this gets the ambition of their project about right. It is hard to think of an area of economics where so much abundance is treated with such apparent neglect. The most eye-opening message of the book is the degree to which publicly owned wealth remains terra incognita.’ Martin Sandhu, Financial Times
‘Public wealth is vast, but largely overlooked as an asset class. Improving its management is one of the most important economic issues of our time. Dag Detter and Stefan Fölster shed much light on the subject. One can only hope that their book will kick-start a debate that ushers in better stewardship of state land, buildings, utilities and other assets. The potential gains are enormous.’ Matthew Valencia, The Economist
‘At a time of mistrust in traditional politics and weak public finances, Dag Detter and Stefan Fölster show politicians the way to demonstrate they are on the side of the people and to manage government assets better. There should be no excuse for those in power to dismiss these ideas.’ Chris Giles, Economics Editor, Financial Times
‘Better government handling of public assets is, or should be, a key issue in many countries. With his background as a former Director at the Ministry of Industry and former President of Stattum, the Swedish government holding company, Dag Detter can speak with great authority and depth of practical experience on the alternative approaches which governments might take. The Public Wealth of Nations is an important contribution to a debate of vital concern to governments across the world.’ Lord Sassoon, former Commercial Secretary, HM Treasury
‘This provocative book is a wake-up call for governments to become more responsible in managing their citizen’s wealth and securing the foundation for future generations.’ Marcel Fratzscher, President of DIW Berlin, Professor at Humboldt-University; Member of the Advisory Council of the Ministry of Economy of Germany
“In this important book, the authors convincingly argue using many examples that, like with pension funds or even households, an asset-liability approach is needed for public finance as well. They show that intelligent management of public assets can have a huge impact on government revenues, creating room for tax cuts, and on economic growth.’ Dr. William De Vijlder, Group Chief Economist, BNP Paribas
“This important book shows the way forward in turning the latent Public Wealth of Nations into actual riches.’ Willem H. Buiter, Global Chief Economist, Citi