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‘Americans just work harder’ than Europeans, said the CEO of Norway’s $1.6 trillion oil fund



Europeans are less ambitious and don’t work as hard as Americans, said Nicolai Tangen, the CEO of Norway’s $1.6 trillion oil fund.

“There’s a mindset issue in terms of acceptance of mistakes and risks. You go bust in America, you get another chance. In Europe, you’re dead,” Tangen told The Financial Times in an interview published on Wednesday.

“We are not very ambitious,” Tangen added. “I should be careful about talking about work-life balance, but the Americans just work harder.”

Tangen made these remarks as he gave an overview of his firm’s push toward investments in the US, which now make up half of the equities held by Norges Bank.

Norges Bank is in charge of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, which manages revenue from the country’s massive oil and gas reserves and holds some $1.6 trillion in assets.

Tangen said his firm is watching the US 2024 elections closely and told the FT that it is concerned about the possible outcomes, though he declined to share more.

“We just invest in America in great companies for the long term. It won’t have any implications for how we allocate our capital,” he said of the election, per the FT. “We have nearly half the assets in America, we will stay invested in America.”

The CEO added that US shares have been beating Europe’s because American companies are innovating and growing technology faster than their European counterparts, telling the FT that he felt the trend is “worrisome.”

About 71% of Norges Bank’s holdings are in equities, with large stakes in US companies, including $19.2 billion in Alphabet, $17.4 billion in Amazon, and $33 billion in Apple.

Norges Bank is the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund and the largest single owner in the global stock market. The firm invests in 72 countries and is estimated to own 1.5% of all shares worldwide.

It’s true that Americans, on average, work longer hours than their European counterparts, according to data collected from 2019 to 2022 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The average polled US worker said they worked 1,811 hours a year, or about 35 hours a week, compared to an average of 1,571 hours a year among workers in European Union countries. That’s also compared to a total average of 1,752 hours a year documented by the OECD.

UK employees said in the same survey that they worked 1,532 hours a year, while German employees say they’ve worked the least out of all OECD countries — at an average of 1,341 hours a year, or about 26 hours a week.

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