HEADLINE: NORWAY ONLY COUNTRY IN EUROPE TO ESCAPE THE RECESSION!
During the renaissance Black plague, one group never got ill. The Jews, So naturally everyone suspected them of causing it. Actually Jews lived in ghettoes and cleaned house well. Rats never got past them. Most were wealthy enough to have horses which scared away rats so they didn't get fleas. When everybody dies of the plague and one person doesn't, don't kill them, find out what they're doing and do it. Eat what they're eating. The same thing about economies. One country survived the MELTDOWN.
Thriving Norway Provides an Economics Lesson
MOST SOCIALIST COUNTRY ON THE PLANET!
FROM NEW YORK TIMES: Published: May 13, 2009
OSLO — When capitalism seemed on the verge of collapse last fall, Kristin
Halvorsen, Norway’s Socialist finance minister and a longtime free market
skeptic, did more than crow. Friends meeting in an Oslo nightspot. Norway’s economy grew 3 percent last
year as many nations plunged into a recession.
As investors the world over sold in a panic, she bucked the tide,
authorizing Norway’s $300 billion sovereign wealth fund to ramp up its
stock buying program by $60 billion — or about 23 percent of Norway ’s economic output.
“The timing was not that bad,” Ms. Halvorsen said, smiling with
satisfaction over the broad worldwide market rally that began in early
The global financial crisis has brought low the economies of just about
every country on earth. But not Norway.
With a quirky contrariness as deeply etched in the national character as
the fjords carved into its rugged landscape, Norway has thrived by going
its own way. When others splurged, it saved. When others sought to limit the role
of government, Norway strengthened its cradle-to-grave welfare state.
And in 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 and its ledger is entirely free of debt.
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 is a relatively small country with a largely homogeneous population
of 4.6 million and the advantages of being a major oil exporter. It counted
$68 billion in oil revenue last year as prices soared to record levels. Even
though prices have sharply declined, the government is not particularly
worried. That is because Norway avoided the usual trap that plagues many energy-rich
Instead of spending its riches lavishly, it passed legislation ensuring
that oil revenue went straight into its sovereign wealth fund, state money
that is used to make investments around the world. Now its sovereign wealth fund is close
to being the largest in the world, despite losing 23 percent last year
because of investments that declined.
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
“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.”
Eirik Wekre, an economist who writes thrillers in his spare time, describes
Norwegians’ feelings about debt this way: “We cannot spend this money
now; it would be stealing from future generations.”
Mr. Wekre, who paid for his house and car with cash, attributes this broad
consensus to .. the country’s iconoclasm. “The strongest man is he who
stands alone in the world,” he said, quoting Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen.
Still, even Ibsen might concede that it is easier to stand alone when your
nation has benefited from oil reserves that make it the third-largest
exporter in the world. The money flowing from that black gold since the early 1970s has
prompted even the flintiest of Norwegians to relax and enjoy their good
fortune. The country’s G.D.P. per person is $52,000, behind only Luxembourg among
As in much of the rest of the world home prices have soared here, tripling
this decade. But there has been no real estate crash in Norway because
there were few mortgage lending excesses. After a 15 percent correction, prices are
again on the rise.
Unlike Dublin or Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where work has stopped on half-built
skyscrapers and stilled cranes dot the skylines, Oslo retains a feeling of
modesty reminiscent of a fishing village rather than a Western capital,
with the recently opened $800 million Opera House one of the few signs of
Norwegian banks, said Arne J. Isachsen, an economist at the Norwegian
School of Management, remain largely healthy and prudent in their lending.
Banks represent just 2 percent of the economy and tight public oversight over
their lending practices have kept Norwegian banks from taking on the risk
that brought down their Icelandic counterparts. But they certainly have not
closed their doors to borrowers. Mr. Isachsen, like many in Norway, has a
second home and an open credit line from his bank, which he recently used to buy a
Some here worry that while a cabin in the woods and a boat may not approach
the excesses seen in New York or London, oil wealth and the state largesse
have corrupted Norway’s once-sturdy work ethic.
“This is an oil-for-leisure program,” said Knut Anton Mork, an economist at
Handelsbanken in Oslo. A recent study, he pointed out, found that
Norwegians work the fewest hours of the citizens of any industrial
“We have become complacent,” Mr. Mork added. “More and more vacation houses
are being built. We have more holidays than most countries and
extremely generous benefits and sick leave policies. Some day the dream
But that day is far off. For now, the air is clear, work is plentiful and
the government’s helping hand is omnipresent — even for those on the
Just around the corner from Norway’s central bank, for instance, Paul Bruum
takes a needle full of amphetamines and jabs it into his muscular arm. His
scabs and sores betray many years as a heroin addict. He says that the
$1,500 he gets from the government each month is enough to keep him
well-fed and supplied with drugs.
Mr. Bruum, 32, says he has never had a job, and he admits he is [in] no
position to find one. “I don’t blame anyone,” he said. “The Norwegian
government has provided for me the best they can.”
To Ms. Halvorsen, the finance minister, even the underside of the Norwegian
dream looks pretty good compared to the economic nightmares elsewhere.
“As a socialist, I have always said that the market can’t regulate itself,”
she said. “But even I was surprised how strong the failure was.”
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My pal Bob who lives on a mountain peak in the Sierra Nevada read that and wrote me " So what if a millionaire has to pay a few more buck like everyone else in society. It's the extremely rich that are greedy and can't spare a penny that are against it, even though it would make the country a better place with lower crime rates. Seems educated people recognize the possibilities while the rich fight change of any kind. You think the health care system will cut there profits because Obama asked them to? No way the stock holder want ever last penny they can get. Don't forget the people that invest in health care are also law makers that's why they are there.
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