Tag Archives: economy

I can now afford bread

Or so says the Economist Intelligence Unit.

SINGAPORE (AFP) — The strong yen has made Tokyo and Osaka the world’s most expensive cities for expatriates while sharp currency declines lowered living costs in Australia and New Zealand, a survey showed.

France’s capital Paris is now the world’s third-most expensive city, down from number two in the EIU’s previous survey, followed by Copenhagen and former number one Oslo.

Chant with me, “We’re number 5!  We’re number 5!”

A good place to be in an economic crisis

For the most part, you wouldn’t know an economic crisis is going on across the world.  Sure, Statoil’s profits are way down, but unemployment and wage growth still look great compared to the rest of the world:

OSLO, Feb 16 (Reuters) – Norwegian wage growth is seen moderating in 2009 after years of brisk increases as the labour market weakens, economists said on Monday following a state commission’s estimate of the impact on 2009 wages from pay hikes last year.

Unemployment is rising in Norway because of the global economic downturn, but remains low by international standards. Registered joblessness rose to 2.6 percent of the workforce in January from 2.0 percent in December.

While I have heard people mention the economic crisis, it certainly hasn’t impacted the lives of most Norwegians.  Although, perhaps there is a bit more to come if law firms are giving talks like this one.

And there goes the Norwegian car industry


The history of the Norwegian car industry is not particularly bright.  Unlike most of the rest of the countries in Europe, the Norwegians never really made cars.  The most famous attempt was the Troll, but only five ever made it off the assembly line.  Interestingly enough, treaties protecting Norwegian fisheries basically killed the auto industry. 

In the last decade or so, however, the industry has had a bit of a revival with electric cars.  The most successful is the Buddy, a limited range car that is so tiny it can be parked perpendicular to the curb in parallel parking places.  The factory has a production capacity of 500 cars a year and is available only in Norway, but sales seem to be on the upswing.

The most highly anticipated, however, is the TH!NK, a crash-tested and highway-certified electric car.  It goes significantly faster than the Buddy and has up to 5 times its maximum range.  Unfortunately, its plans for a worldwide rollout in 2009 look to be in lots of trouble:

Think Chief Executive Richard Canny told a news conference that the company was halting production and seeking state aid, warning that it would probably not survive without that assistance.

"We would not have taken these actions if it was not serious," he said on Monday, adding that the firm would need up to 200.0 million kronors in the short term through guarantees. The firm will lay off up to 70.0% of its staff and had hoped to restart production of its car, Think City, in the first quarter of next year.

Perhaps my headline is a bit pessimistic, but if I worked at the Buddy plant, I wouldn’t feel to comfortable with my job security.  But it will be interesting to see if the government decides to give Think the money its asking for.  In the current economic climate, it seems like a fairly high risk loan, yet the Norwegian government has proven that it is not adverse to owning significant stakes in Norwegian companies