A visit to the homepage of the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, Norway’s “Government Pension Fund Global,” is dizzying. For months, Norges Bank Investment Management, the investment arm of the country’s central bank, has been highlighting a growing number – the current market value of all its holdings. In July 2016, they totaled $825 billion.
Stephen Yngve Slyngstad, 54, has been with the fund since it began in 1998, and has been heading it since 2008. The Norwegian studied politics in Paris, economics in California and law in Oslo, so he brings many talents to the job. Converted to the national currency, his fund manages more than 7,000 billion Norwegian kroner. If the money were to be distributed among the five million inhabitants of the Scandinavian nation, each would become a millionaire in kroner.
Revenues from the state-controlled oil and gas business flow into Norges Invest. And since energy prices have fallen sharply since 2014, the fund is becoming increasingly important. That’s because it was set up to assure the financing of the Norwegian welfare state after the sources of energy have dried up. And the fund is supposed to steady the state budget, which includes 4 percent of its returns. In the first quarter of 2016, for the first time in history the Norwegian government withdrew money from Norges Invest – €2.7 billion to beef up its finances.