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Norway Wins the Olympics

With the Winter Olympics now behind us, countries are seeking to evaluate how they fared. In the US, there is plenty of self accolades for the record haul of 37 medals. In Russia, the poor performance of the Federation has led to the resignation of the head of the national team and remarkably brusque comments from Medvedev. And while Canada did not win the overall medal count, gold medals in hockey and curling leave our northern neighbors with plenty to be happy about.

But the real winner of the Olympics is Norway. On a per capita basis, no other country earned as many medals as this small Nordic country. And it is not just Norway. Nine of the top ten per capita medal winners are European countries with populations smaller than 10 million inhabitants. The following chart shows the top 26 medal winners ranked on a per capita basis. (HT: Mark Warren)

What explains the dominance of European countries in the Olympics? History, climate, and geography certainly play a role. David Brooks suggests it also has to do with social capital and natural toughness. I personally wonder if sports are an emphasized expression of national sovereignty in Europe because other forms of national identity, such as currency and foreign policy, are increasingly transnational in scope. Some dedicated federalists in the European Union are pushing for an EU Olympic team, at least according to this web page. But I suspect the likelihood of that ever happening is close to zero.

Big Spending: What America Can Learn from Germany

"Since the Berlin Wall fell, the old GDR has been showered with money. Overall, some $2 trillion has been pumped in — the equivalent of about 4% of Germany's economic output every year," writes TIME Magazine and draws three lessons for the United States from Germany’s attempt to spend its way out of a major economic slump: What Germany got for Its $2 Trillion.

The Tapmag blog summarizes those three lessons and discusses other articles, which compare the economic policies of Germany and the United States, some of which where discussed on Atlantic Review as well.

Endnote: According to the New York Times Thriving Norway Provides an Economics Lesson as well.

Are Americans now more open to learn from other countries economic systems, incl. those "socialist" European economies?