The Norwegian investment fund

The government began salting away its oil proceeds in a special reserve in 1996.  Known until last year as the Petroleum Fund, it was renamed the Pension Fund, which is supposed to make Norwegians aware that the fund’s purpose is to provide for future generations.

With the spike in oil prices, it has become the biggest public fund in Europe.  At the rate it is growing, experts say it will be worth $800 billion to $900 billion in a decade.  That translates into $180,000 for every man, woman and child in Norway.

“Inevitably, Norwegians feel bad about having all this money,” said Gro Nystuen, a human rights lawyer who is chairman of an ethics council that screens investments.  “Our job is to make the Norwegian people feel less guilty.”

The Norwegians won’t invest in Wal-Mart, but they will invest in Saudi Arabia.  And get this:

Blacklisting companies that worsen climate change, she said, would put Norway in an awkward spot as its national fortune rests on fossil fuels.

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