Country Rankings - Norway
Sep 19, 2017 Norway: stimulatesWe go Nordic again this week, and such reputational crises are unlikely to be suffered by Scandinavian nations any time soon. Yet, for a region where fiscal fairness is deep-rooted, and social democracy abounds, there aren't many social democrats to be seen in Scandinavian governments right now. Indeed, conservatism seems to be all the rage. Denmark, lauded by America's best-known social democrat, Senator Bernie Sanders, is actually ruled by the center-right Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen of the Venstre Party, which is in coalition with the conservative People's Party, and the libertarian Liberal Alliance. Meanwhile, Norway has just re-elected its conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg (albeit with a reduced number of seats in parliament). Her Hoyre Party will govern in coalition with other parties on the right of Norwegian politics. Over in Finland, Prime Minister Juha Sipila leads the Centre Party, but it's fair to say that as a unit, the governing coalition leans right, not left. Even in Sweden, the Social Democratic Government lacks a majority in parliament, and must govern with the support of the right. And the influence of conservative polices can be seen in recent tax developments. Denmark, as mentioned here recently, has just proposed a package of tax cuts designed to encourage people from welfare to work. Hoyre's election manifesto was sprinkled with tax proposals cutting taxes for small businesses and investors, and peppered with conservatisms such as "We will restrict the growth in public expenditure," and "stimulate investment, private enterprise, and private ownership," and "Private ownership is fundamental to future prosperity in Norway." Conservatives in Sweden also scored a major victory for their cause recently, by making the Government drop plans to change the controversial 3:12 tax scheme for small businesses, and include proposals to ease the tax burden on start-up enterprises in return for supporting the 2018 Budget. Still, conservatism is relative, isn't it? I mean, if you transplanted the Norwegian Conservative Party to the US political environment, they would probably appear somewhere in the middle of the ideological band. Some even say they would be considered center-left. So where does that put Bernie on Scandinavia's political spectrum, I wonder? Anyhow, don't go expecting radical change in Scandinavia's tax and economic policies for the foreseeable future.
Nov 22, 2012 Norway: EFTA starriestWhen playing the alphabet soup game (Harrods or Macy's, GBP12 or USD14 - things are always cheaper across the pond - and as an anglo-saxon sport you can't buy it on the Continent) EFTA is a trick question which people hardly ever get right. They think the 'A' stands for agreement, as in Free Trade Agreement. Of course it stands for Area. There was a time when there was also 'ex-EFTA' which was indecipherable even to aficionados, but the game hadn't been invented back then. Anyway, enough history: what remains of EFTA can be compared to a regulation-lite European Union, and focuses on the single market and trade agreements, as at this week's meeting, which wins it, or rather them, a star. 'Them' is Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, so it's a cheap and cheerful way of bringing three new countries into the table.