Can Americans learn some lessons about fiscal sanity from the Scandinavians? A brief article in the latest Barron’s suggests two northern European countries could offer some valuable tips.
… America clearly isn’t the model of fiscal probity it used to be. Has any other country taken its place? Norway and Sweden both fit the bill. …
… So what’s the trick? The Scandinavian countries have been better about balancing their budgets and controlling spending, despite having a reputation for being free-spending socialist states, says [Wells Fargo Advisors' Paul] Christopher. Sweden, for instance, pared spending when deficits rose two decades ago. Its mid-’90s deficit reduction plan, including tax reforms and cuts in medical spending, has been cited by the Peterson-Pew budget-reform commission as a possible model for the U.S.
In Norway’s case, luck has also played a role. The country owns hugely profitable North Sea oil fields, and it has squirreled away most of the money it has made by selling the oil.
Nothing about boosting the economy by paying people not to work? Shocking, unless you read John Hood‘s column regularly.