Thursday, September 17, 2009

Envying Norway

For one example of what Louisiana COULD be, if we had effective political leadership, look to Norway.

Norway's oil-fueled socialist government was recently reelected. The margin was thin, but its first time a government is reelected in years. The Norwegians have figured out that politicians are like diapers and should be changed often for exactly the same reason.

Norway is an extremely advanced country built up by strong social values (which go back to having to prepare as a group for fierce winters) and a robust oil industry. Oil is almost always a curse, when it comes to economic development. One of the terms commonly used is Dutch Disease, where oil riches cause all other sectors of the economy to shrivel. In Norway, the oil industry has helped out a lot of other industries. Most of the early multiphase flowmeters were developed in Norway. Their shipbuilding industry, which also benefits from terrific natural harbors (fjords), is so big that a lot of the hulls for platforms in the Gulf of Mexico are built in Norway and transported to the US, despite higher labor costs and transportation costs.

Another way Norway was saved by the curse of oil? The fortuitous arrival of an Iraqi: The man who saved Norway. He pushed for a balance between resource nationalism and outright capitalist exploitation that would lead the people getting less than full value for their natural resources.

... if you rely too much on private foreign companies, too little of the oil wealth benefits the country in the form of government revenue or economic development; if you go too far in the other direction, you risk a bloated, politicised oil sector that evades both accountability to the people and competitive pressures to be efficient.

Very good read.

Also, instead of squandering oil wealth or it disappearing into the pockets of politicians, almost all the revenues go into the Government Pension Fund of Norway, which hoards most of the wealth for when the one-time endowment of oil is depleted. Norway Thrives by Going Against the Tide - NY Times.

I'll leave you with one more snippet about Norway:

This country beats France: Norway.

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