Postcard from Scandinavia
| Dick Langlois |
Taking up Nicolai’s challenge, I offer a substance-free post in the spirit of Facebook. I am in Scandinavia, where I will have a chance to interact with both of my local co-bloggers. At the moment I am in Copenhagen, where I will participate in a Ph.D. course that Nicolai and his colleagues have organized. But I just returned from Bergen, where I met Lasse for the first time. I gave a talk at NHH and had a chance to see a bit of the city. Bergen is a beautiful place, and I was fortunate to see in it perfect weather, something I am told is rare on the rainy west coast of Norway. As I learned in the local museum, Bergen was one of four Hanseatic “office” cities (along with London, Bruges, and Novgorod), and it mainly traded salted fish and cod-liver oil — the first Norwegian oil industry — for grain products from Britain and the Baltic. I was also treated to whale meat for an appetizer at dinner last night — a politically incorrect meal in an otherwise politically correct country. (Since a whale is a mammal, it was more like beef than fish; but as it was served as a highly spiced (cooked) carpaccio, it was hard to determine the real taste: maybe just a bit gamier than beef.)
The mercantile spirit is apparently still alive and well in Scandinavia. On the Copenhagen metro a little while ago, I spotted a young Dane sporting a T-shirt depicting bars of gold and proclaiming the slogan “the original currency of kings.” I intuited immediately that this wasn’t a Ron Paul supporter but a would-be hip-hop teenager. It turns out the that the shirt is made by a company called LRG, which is lauded as an up-and-coming (American) entrepreneurial venture. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to find a place to buy one cheaply on the web: it would be great to wear for lectures on monetary policy or on inflation in the early modern period. I think I will skip the dollar-sign bling, though.