We’re told that Finland is financially illiterate, so much so that the central bank is desperately trying to teach people how to count their money. We’re also told that Finland is the happiest country on Earth. Thus, ineluctably, we are drawn to the conclusion that financial illiteracy is the path to happiness.
Somehow the Telegraph manages to get the logic the wrong way around here:
The key to happiness is financial literacy, say the Finns
Well, we could believe that, certainly. The sort of literacy that tells us that we rich nation peeps are living higher on the hog than any group of humans ever have done would create, we would hope at least, a certain warm contemplation. That anyone with the mortgage paid off and a reasonable pension pot is among the global 1% in terms of wealth. That getting just a little above the median wage puts us into the top 1% by income. We’re privileged, hugely so, winners of that lottery ticket of life.
The thing is, that’s not actually what Finland is saying at all:
New forms of loans offered outside the traditional banking sector have also made borrowing easier and more attractive. The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority said last year that the practice of taking out new instant loans to service old debts had become more common.
“This development creates risks for individuals and the national economy alike,” said justice minister Anna-Maja Henriksson.
OK, dangerous credit boom.
The central bank has responded with a project to improve financial literacy. “By setting common objectives and coordinating the activities better, we can improve the financial literacy of Finns more efficiently,” said its governor Olli Rehn. “Financial literacy is a key civic skill.”
The central bank is desperately trying to improve financial literacy. And, yes, the nation is recorded as being the happiest on the planet.
It does have to be, therefore, that the Telegraph has got the headline the wrong way around. It’s financial illiteracy which leads to happiness, no?