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Monday, April 22, 2024

Norwegians regain faith in the economy

For the fourth quarter in a row, surveys and key indicators suggest that Norwegians have regained confidence in the country’s economy and have higher economic expectations. “It looks like things are in fact going better,” claims Idar Kreutzer, leader of the country’s national finance industry organization.

After two years of an oil industry downturn that spread to other sectors, even residents of Norway’s oil capital of Stavanger are starting to see some brighter days ahead. PHOTO: Stavanger Forum

Kreutzer, managing director of the nationwide organization Finans Norge, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Wednesday that its so-called “Trends Indicator” has been consistently shooting up since the beginning of 2016. He said Norwegians questioned for the Indicator are much more confident both in their own personal finances and in the national economy, which has been battered since oil prices collapsed in 2014.

‘The worst may be over’
“We saw a powerful fall in the Trends Indicator in connection with the oil industry downturn that especially affected Southern and Western Norway, and has since spread to the rest of the economy,” Kreutzer, a former CEO of major Norwegian insurance firm Storebrand, told NRK.

“Now it looks like folks feel we’ve come through the worst,” he added.

That’s in line with earlier predictions that Norway’s economy has bottomed out. Kreutzer pointed to several factors that he believes is fueling new optimism: “The job market is improving and oil prices have risen in recent months, and that affects the mood and the desire to invest.”

Finance minister pleased
Few were more pleased by Finans Norges’ report on Wednesday than Finance Minister Siv Jensen, who sees it as a sign that the government’s policies regarding economic stimulation are working. She believes the Norwegian economy has survived its worst crack because of the oil price dive.

“This is another indication that things are getting brighter,” she told NRK, referring to Finans Norge’s report. “We see signs of improvement.” She thinks low interest rates, moderate wage settlements and government policies have contributed to the optimism, but noted that “many are still without work and there are still many companies that are struggling.” She cautioned that it’s “too early to raise the flag,” however, because of ongoing challenges, especially in Southern and Western Norway.

Kreutzer wasn’t ready to pop open any champagne either, worrying about ever-rising housing prices and rising debt. Both are glad to detect the rising optimism, though, also in the hardest hit areas. Berglund



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