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Why Norway Won't Lose Its Cool Over Falling Oil Prices

Sweden's Troll A oil platform
Sweden's Troll A oil platform

OSLO — Global oil prices are falling again this week, having dipped below $30 for the first time in 13 years. In oil-dependent economies from Russia to Saudi Arabia to Venezuela, the crisis continues to spark panic and weigh on national budget deficits and unemployment rates.

And yet another major oil producer, Norway, is looking remarkably calm, reports E24 Naeringliv, a top Norwegian business website. "You cannot generalize," says Joachim Bernhardsen, economist at Scandinavian bank Nordea Markets, told to E24 Naeringliv. "Most Norwegians do not have to worry about money. Last year, housing in Oslo rose 10% in value. The country's financial growth (excluding oil sector) is estimated at 2% this year."

Bernhardsen also noted that even though there the national unemployment rate has spiked recently, it remains below 5%. No reason, in other words, for Norway to panic in the face of the current downturn in oil prices.

Though oil and gas account for some 20% of its economic output, Norway has been shielded by the full impact of the dropping energy prices by a more stable and diversified economy than other oil producers, as well as the falling value of its currency, the krone, in relation to the dollar. But as French business daily Les Echosnotes that the biggest buffer against a crisis is Norway's gigantic oil fund and relatively small population of five million.

The Norwegian sovereign fund, which is value around the equivalent of 730 billion euros, is meant to mostly be money set aside for future generations. And for now at least, no one is ready to dip their hands deeper into that fund.

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food / travel

Pasta v. Fascists: How Italy's Staple Dish Became A Symbol Of Resistance

Pasta may not be considered controversial today, but it played an important role during Italy's fascist years, particularly in one family's celebration of community and liberation.

Photo of the Cervi family.

Photo of the Cervi family, whose seven children were shot by the Fascists on December 28, 1943, at the Reggio Emilia shooting range.

@comunisti_alla_ribalta via Instagram
Jacopo Fontaneto

ROME — Eighty years ago — on July 25, 1943 — the vote of no confidence by the Grand Council of Fascism, leading to Benito Mussolini's arrest, set off widespread celebrations. In Campegine, a small village in the Emilian province, the Cervi family celebrated in their own way: they brought 380 kilograms of pasta in milk cans to the town square and offered it to all the inhabitants of the village.

The pasta was strictly plain: macaroni dressed with butter and cheese, seen as more of a "festive dish" in that period of deprivation. As soon as the Cervi brothers learned about the arrest of Mussolini, they procured flour, borrowed butter and cheese from the dairy, and prepared kilos and kilos of pasta. They then loaded it onto a cart to distribute it to their fellow villagers. Pastasciutta (dry pasta) specifically regards dishes with noodles that are plated "dry", not in broth. That would disqualify soup, risotto, ravioli...

Even though pastasciutta is the most stereotypical type of pasta today, it had a complicated relationship with the government during Italy's fascist years.

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