Norwegians haven’t saved so little of their household income since 2010, according to new numbers compiled by state statistics bureau SSB (Statistics Norway). The numbers from the second quarter of this year worry economists.
They indicate that Norwegian households only save 5 percent of their household income, down from 7.1 percent in the first quarter and the lowest level since 2010. Newspaper Klassekampen reported that SSB attributed the decline to lower incomes while consumption continues to grow.
“Norway has Europe’s lowest level of financial savings,” Christian Anton Smedshaug, a researcher and author of a new book on debt, told Klassekampen. “We don’t have much (liquid) buffer in the form of bank desposits or stock.” Many Norwegians have invested much of their money into their homes and other real estate, which Smedshaug warned is a risk if housing prices continue to fall. Tax policies in Norway, however, have long rewarded debt and penalized savings by allowing deductions for debt and including bank accounts at their full value when the annual tax on net worth (formueskatt) is calculated.
Consumption, meanwhile, has risen, and another new set of statistics this week showed strong growth in the sale of luxury automobiles. Newspaper Finansavisen reported figures from state traffic authorities showing that 6,931 cars have been sold so far this year at prices of NOK 1 million (USD 128,000) or more. That’s up 28.6 percent from the same period last year. If sales of the popular Tesla electric cars are extracted from the statistics, sales of luxury cars were still up 16 percent.
Some view that as a sure sign that Norway’s economic recovery is continuing. Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported last summer that sales of Porsches have doubled at one dealership in Bergen.