Do it Like the Norwegians : Prudence, Stability and Sovereign Wealth Fund Legislation in Thriving Norway are an Example for the Rest of the World

Norway is doing something right that many of the countries in our world are doing wrong, namely running the national economy wisely.

Is Norway a model for a healthy and prudent national economics?

Landon Thomas Jr. in his May 13, 2009 New York Times article Thriving Norway Provides an Economics Lesson gives us a nice summary of the economic policies followed by a “wealthy” but “relatively frugal” country. Of course, it helps that Norway is the world’s third largest exporter of oil and in 2008 counted $68 billion in oil revenue. But that is not the whole story.

As Thomas writes:

[I]n the midst of the worst global downturn since the Depression, Norway’s economy grew last year by just under 3 percent. The government enjoys a budget surplus of 11 percent. By comparison, the United States is expected to chalk up a fiscal deficit this year equal to 12.9 percent of its gross domestic product and push its total debt to $11 trillion, or 65 percent of the size of its economy….

Norway’s relative frugality stands in stark contrast to Britain, which spent most of its North Sea oil revenue — and more — during the boom years. Government spending rose to 47 percent of G.D.P., from 42 percent in 2003. By comparison, public spending in Norway fell to 40 percent from 48 percent of G.D.P.

‘The U.S. and the U.K. have no sense of guilt,’ said Anders Aslund, an expert on Scandinavia at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. ‘But in Norway, there is instead a sense of virtue. If you are given a lot, you have a responsibility.’

Read the full article to find out why Thomas writes:

The global financial crisis has brought low the economies of just about every country on earth. But not Norway.

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