Posts Tagged ‘ european crisis ’

Norway=model; exception

In addition to already having country profile pages for Germany and Japan, we have recently just added Denmark and Norway (also accessible from our home index page under the “countries covered” listing). While putting together the Norway page, we realized even more how exemplary Norway truly is.

Norway is not a member of the European Union. Also a factor in escaping the eurozone crisis is their oil and gas industry which has them benefiting from the largest budget surplus among all advanced democracies. Norway has an unemployment rate below 3%, no net national debt, and around $640 billion dollars stored away in a sovereign wealth account, mostly from its oil and gas industry. In 2009 Norway earned the highest per capita income.

Deserving much credit for its success is Norway’s fearlessness to tax. Their prosperous oil and gas industry receives a 28% corporate tax and a 50% industry surtax. Overall tax as a share of GDP is among the highest in the OECD. Corporate taxes are four times as high as U.S. rates. Their highest income tax bracket kicks in at $124,000 at 47.8%. Yet businesses aren’t saddling up to head to places where they might save on looser tax breaks, an argument from those in the U.S. representing a vast majority who refuse to consider any tax increase. In fact, start up activity not only in Norway, but also Denmark, Switzerland, and Canada is higher than that of the U.S. From 2006-2009, the U.S. economy treaded at a practically stagnant .1% growth rate compared to Norway’s exponentially faster rate of 3%. Norway also boasts more entrepreneurs per capita than the U.S.

Part of the reason why business owners are so keen to comply without raising a stir at Norwegian taxes is the sense of appreciation they have for the system. Norwegians benefit from free education from preschool to graduate school (often including universities outside of Norway); free healthcare; generous unemployment benefits due to a competitive, employee-friendly job market; forty-six weeks of maternity leave paid in full, 10 weeks for paternal leave. Education, retirement, and medical expenses are three paramount concerns for the average U.S. citizen, but all of which are provided in Norway. There’s a sense of giving back to the system in Norway for the ways one has benefited previously from the system.


Adapted from“US fiscal debate could learn from Norway” by Mark Provost from Progressive Press and  “In Norway, start ups say Ja to socialism” by Max Chafkin in Inc. Magazine.

Iceland and progress

Much has been written about the crisis in Iceland and how it relates to Europe’s greater, collective problems. However, hardly receiving any media attention, Iceland has shown critical indications of a recovering economy in spite of a general lack of media coverage. In an article by Deena Stryker, valid contentions are drawn that via processes unabashedly democratic, the citizens of Iceland have willed their way to the verge of an economic convalescence. By denying an imposed burden to repay their recently nationalized banks’ debts and holding creditors responsible, the citizens of Iceland forced out the existing political regime for a new one, rewriting their constitution in the process. According to a report by Bruce Walker as well as one from Gabrielle Parassuni in the Wall Street Journal, Iceland’s aspirations for recovery are coming to fruition as noted most markably by Iceland’s economic growth of 2.5% at the first half of 2011 and a projected increase to 3% by the year’s end. At the very least, the manner in which Iceland is handling their financial crisis is deserving of closer and positive media attention.