Nicolai Tangen thinks Americans are hardworking and more determined than their European counterparts.

Nicolai Tangen heads the Nordic giant Norges Bank Investment Management, which manages the revenue earned by Norway’s oil and gas resources. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, one of the largest in the world with 1.6 trillion  US dollars in assets under management, aims to distribute wealth equitably amongst future Norwegian generations.  

Nicolai Tangen’s tenure is a renewable five-year contract.

“Nicolai Tangen thinks Americans are hardworking and more determined than their European counterparts”


Investor activism, changing how a company is governed is a characteristic of Nicolai Tangen’s investment style.   

So Nicolai Tangen is at it again, scattering the cat amongst the pigeons with his controversial comments.

“US corporate greed has gone too far,” said Nicolai Tangen two years ago, referring to large salary packages that are not justified.

Nicolai Tangen also made public his frustration with investors bailing out of ESG investing to prioritise optimal, environmental, social and governance outcomes or factors. 

But ESG is giving corporations an identity crisis, as they lose sight of their role, to make profits by providing affordable quality products and services that the market wants. Corporations adopting ESG governance see losses mounting, and investors are left holding the bag. 

There is no milk and honey in ESG investing, with ESG fund losses nearing 40%. 

“There is no milk and honey in ESG investing, with ESG fund losses nearing 40%”


 “What we have seen this summer, is you go from global warming to global boiling,” he said, adding: “Recently there is a much closer link between climate and inflation. That’s why it’s a proper financial risk . . . We have to ratchet up the work on climate,” said Nicolai Tangen last Spring.

Frankly, Nicolai Tangen’s rant about global warming in 2023 is eclipsed by the 2024 war in Europe, with the now weekly threats of nuclear escalations becoming louder and more focused. 

Worry about climate change, but be petrified about nuclear war.

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

But back to Nicolai Tangen, thinks Americans are more hardworking than Europeans, is he right? 

US workers are not legally entitled to paid holidays, but on average, workers get ten paid holiday days.

European Union workers are legally entitled to four weeks of paid vacation.

So, Europeans have more holidays and entitlements than American workers.    

Nicolai Tangen thinks Americans are hardworking, and he tries to emulate their work ethics by reminding himself that time is precious

The CEO of the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund is making sure every day counts, and he has a calendar countdown in his office to prove it.

So Nicolai Tangen knows down to the day when his tenure will end and added a large countdown in his office, which ticks down every day.

“I’ve got 580 days left,” Tangen told the ’20VC’ podcast earlier this year. “Why do I have that? Is it because I don’t like my job? No. I love my job.

“But the thing is that when I get somebody in my office who says ‘Yes, we can do this over the next three months’ I say: ‘Hey, look at this. I got 580 days left. We need to hurry up.,” he said. 

Tangen thinks his calendar countdown “completely changes the mindset” of his colleagues, adding: “They say: ‘Oh yeah, oh gosh, you only have 580 days left—we need to do it straight away. You get this urgency into thinking.”

The civil servant who took over the top job in 2020 has indicated, in the past, that he wants more out of his European colleagues. “We are not very ambitious. I should be careful talking about work-life balance, but Americans work harder,” he said.

I relax all the time because I love what I do
Jensen Huang (founder, CEO Nvidia)

Nicolai Tangen, known as Norway’s so-called “trillion-dollar man”, believes that having a dynamic workforce is the difference between success and failure. “Organizations which make fast decisions are generally better,” he added.

Norges Bank Investment Management is the largest single owner of global stock markets, controlling 1.5% of shares in the world’s listed companies.

As a result, its leader has access to some of the biggest names in business, including Nvidia founder and CEO Jensen Huang.

The boss of the AI chipmaker and Tangen discussed work-life balance, with the former—who is a notoriously hard worker and perfectionist—saying he virtually never stopped working.

Tangen explained: “[Huang] said: ‘Nicholai, there is hard work and there is insane hard work… I do insane hard work.’ I asked but when do you relax? [Huang] said: ‘I relax all the time because I love what I do.’

If you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. I set aside time for [my wife and kids],” Nicholai Tangen added. “But I work because I love what I do.”

“Time is interesting, and I think it’s funny,” Tangen said. “Let’s say you are 20 years old and in a hurry. Three months is an eternity.

“You get older… suddenly I am so patient. Why? 

I haven’t got that many years left compared to a 20-year-old yet. I’m much more patient than these young people. It makes no sense.”

Tangen continued: “Why are you more impatient when you’re 20? Three months is a higher percentage of your life than when you’re 50.”

Nicolai Tangen thinks Americans are hardworking, and it influences where he invests the sovereign fund’s assets

Norges Bank Investment Management’s longer-term move over the last ten years is leaning more into the US.

The world’s largest technology park, NASDAQ and the ‘Magnificent 7’ stocks are American. 

Investments in the US represent 46.9% of Norges Bank’s portfolio, whereas a decade ago, it represented just under 30%. Going back ten years, in 2003, the organization’s investment in America tallied just 26.3% of all investments.

Conversely, in 2003, 59.5% of Norges Bank’s portfolio was invested in European countries, a figure that, by 2023, had fallen to 28.7%.

Nicolai Tangen thinks Americans are hardworking, but with the rapid rise of BRICS, will it be enough to retain US hegemony in a war-ridden bipolar world?