The petroleum sector is about 21% of gdp and half of exports. It’s not just that prices are down, rather quantities produced have been declining throughout the oughties. (That is the less well known angle here.) Currently Norwegian oil production is at about half of its 2000 level, and the sector is now bracing for 40,000 job cuts.
Here is from a recent internal economists’ critique of the country:
The group has documented how Norwegian politicians all too often have approved major investment projects that benefit far too few people, are poorly managed and plagued by huge budget overruns. Costs in general are way out of line in Norway, according to the group, while schools are mediocre, university students take too much time to earn degrees and mainland businesses outside the oil sector lack enough prestige to help Norway diversify its oil-based economy. The group mostly blamed the decline in productivity, though, on systemic inefficiencies and too much emphasis on local interests at the expense of the nation.
Is this entirely reassuring?:
Prime Minister Erna Solberg recently spoke of the need to invest in areas where people actually live…
After you adjust for wage differences, it costs 60% more to build a road in Norway than in Sweden.
There is this too:
“Approximately 600,000 Norwegians … who should be part of the labor force are outside the labor force, because of welfare, pension issues,” says Siv Jensen, the finance minister.
The country has largely deindustrialized, oil of course aside. And there is a fair amount of debt-financed consumption.
The country has falling and below average PISA scores by OECD standards.
Not everyone admires Norway’s immigration policy, and there is periodic talk of banning begging in the country. It seems there are only about 1000 beggars — mostly Roma — in a country of about five million, so you can take that as a sign they are not very good at processing discord. Far-right populist views do not seem to be going away.
For sure, Norway will be fine. Did I mention per capita income is over $100,000 a year and they have no current problems which show up in actual life? Hey, the “over” in “overrated” has to come from somewhere! The country also has the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund and owns about one percent of global stocks. Still, the idea of a rentier economy makes me nervous. When most people don’t “have to” do that well, often cultural erosion sets in.
They’ve made a new film : “Here’s a beautiful video of Iceland and Norway, time-lapsed and tilt-shifted to show the hustle, the bustle, and the beautiful splendor of Scandinavia from a more toy-like perspective. Called The Little Nordics, it was filmed by Dutch design team Damp Design. Happy Friday!”
Sorry Magnus, Karl — I know you guys are still underrated. It’s not for nothing that I used to call it “the Norwegian century.”
Addendum: Here is my earlier post on whether Sweden is an economically overrated country. At least it is cheaper to build a road there.