Hugged by mountains and perched on a stunning coastline of fjords, Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city, has picture-postcard views.
As the centre of Norway’s booming oil and gas industries, it is also a very wealthy place. Yet there are few displays of ostentatious spending – there are no supercars with tinted windows, no designer handbag shops, and no queues of people outside exclusive nightclubs.
For while other countries have struck oil and then binged on the revenues, by contrast Norway is continuing to invest its oil and gas money in a giant sovereign wealth fund. The fund, worth about $800bn (£483bn), owns 1% of the entire world’s stocks, and is big enough to make every citizen a millionaire in the country’s currency, the kroner. In effect, it is a giant savings account.
And most Norwegians are seemingly very content with this – according to a 2012 study by New York’s Columbia University Norway is one of the world’s happiest countries. “We had to invest a lot of money before we could spend anything,” says Prof Alexander Cappelen, from the Norway School of Economics, explaining why the country has apparently avoided the pitfalls of vast wealth....