By Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk
According to the proposed budget submitted by the current ‘blue-blue’ government the Norwegian deficit will reach another record high in 2016. Mainland taxes are expected to bring in 1,008 billion NOKs, while expenditures are estimated at 1,215 billion NOKs. In other words, 2016 will be another year of record mainland deficit which need to be covered by the offshore sector and its 6,900 bn NOK sovereign wealth fund (SWF).
While record mainland deficits covered by the petroleum sector is nothing new in Norwegian budget history, on the contrary it is closer to the norm, the 2016 budget did raise some eyebrows. The other side of the ledger, the net inflow to the SWF from activities in the North Sea will, again according to budget, be lower than the required amount to cover the deficit. This has never happened before and is testimony of the sea change occurring in the world of petrodollar recycling. Interestingly enough, the need to liquidate SWF holdings is helping to create further deflation in the Eurodollar system in a self-reinforcing loop.
As Eurodollar liquidity dries up and consequently pushes up the price of actual dollar (note, Eurodollars are international claims to domestic US dollars but for which no such dollars actual exists) the problem for petro-states compounds. One way this manifest itself is through international purchasing power of prior savings. A SWF as the Norwegian was created through a surplus of exports over imports meaning it can only be utilized through future imports over exports. When the Norwegians look at their wealth expressed in Norwegian kroner it all looks fine, but expressed in dollars the SWF has shrunk considerably in size. Thus, the surfeit imports expected by the Norwegian populace cannot be met. Norway rode high on a wave of liquidity which pushed up commodity currencies, leading Norwegians to consume more imported goods today, without realizing they were tapping into the principal of their future. When the tide turns the gross misconception is revealed.
The Government claims it is all fine though. The current down-cycle will, according to them, end early 2016 so despite a 2 percentage point reduction in corporate- and personal income tax, mainland tax revenues are expected to increase 1.9 per cent. That is obviously a pipedream, just as the expected 17.9 per cent increase in interest and dividend income which will make sure the SWF continue to grow at a healthy pace despite the massive mainland deficit.
Assuming oil prices remain low, mainland tax revenue will plummet as they are very much a function of what goes on offshore, while expenditure will rise as they do in all welfare states during a down cycle.
If we are right, a global recession is imminent, meaning the expected increase in dividend income will never materialize.
In other words, the drawdown of the SWF will exceed its inflow even after adding financial income flows. The last remnant of the petro-dollar will thus die in 2016.
For a country 100 per cent dependent on continued leverage in the Eurodollar system the absolutely best case scenario is for the US economy to grow just slowly enough for international monetary policy to again realign; reducing the value of the USD through continued ZIRP in the US.
Robust growth in the US will prompt Yellen to hike, spiking the dollar (as Eurodollar claims scramble for actual dollars) while paradoxically a recession in the US will lead to the exact same outcome. The goldilocks scenario of 1-2 per cent growth is the best that the Norwegian government can hope for. It will minimize the gap between the lies and propaganda spewed out by the Ministry of Finance and reality.
The statements, views, and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of EMerging Equity.
Courtesy of Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk