The Nordic Ant (July 29th, 2016)

The catastrophic drop of oil, which within a few years has virtually declined from USD 150 per barrel to around 20 before recovering to about 50, caused a trauma to producers.

The time of gold-plated domes, of Aston Martin or Lamborghini collections, the construction of pharaonic stadiums and highways or towers of Babel, belong to the past, to the extent that producers had to pull from their reserves, if only to cover an abysmal deficit generated in the light of the huge inflows of the past.

A producer has yet escaped the slump: Norway. True to an austere or even frugal Lutheran tradition, the country did not succumb to the spendthrift irrational, when its huge energy reserves were discovered. This was demonstrated during the Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer characterized by an efficient sobriety.

Successive governments have instead focused on the development of infrastructures for the benefit of the population in the form of schools, universities or hospitals, to the extent that any Norwegian can find effective treatments less than one hour from his home away and get there by helicopter in case of emergency. New universities saw their reputation growing rapidly and, in the framework of Erasmus, are often frequented by foreign students who become attached to the country and consider staying. Life is serene, reassuring (sometimes too much) and the inhabitants have middle-class needs; a small apartment, a shack in the countryside, an old Saab to get there, and a boat for fishing. Concerned about the welfare of its youth and aware of the oppressive melancholy which might emerge from the long polar night, the government has been organizing since a few years, from October to April, internships in Italy for middle school students.

This relative frugality enabled the Norwegians to create a sovereign fund, the assets of which are currently reaching more than Euros 900 billions ; they will increase over the coming decades and thus allow the country to consider the distant post-oil period without painful sacrifices, whereas many other producers will have rediscovered their original dunes or jungles.

The only real danger threatening Norway is to lend a sometimes too complacent ear to extremism be it from the right-wing or of Salafi nature and thus deal a fatal blow to an ancestral ethnic diversity which has greatly contributed to its success but now plans to emigrate.