The Norwegian government has a huge fund, which is best known as “oljefondet”, that translates to “the oil fund”, but really has the really boring name “Statens pensjonsfond”, which translates to “Government Pension Fund”. What it does is not so boring; it invests in all kinds of things both inside and outside of Norway.
As of 19 October 2010 its total value is NOK 3 trillion ($512 billion), 1% of global equity markets. With 1.78% of European stocks, it is said to be the largest stock owner in Europe. It also owns 25% of The Crown Estate (lots and lots and LOTS of property in inner city London), and is currently investing in properties after the OK was given to do so in 2010.
The point of this Pension Fund is, logically, to be able to pay our pensions in the future. Even though this fund is making money like there is no tomorrow (even in the finance crisis) it’s not a real part of our budget, and only a tiny piece is used as an extra supplement each year.
The fund has it’s own ethical council, to prevent investing in harmful businesses such as arms production and tobacco, and breaching of human rights and labor rights. It also tries to prevent environmental damage. Some times the council tries to right the wrongs from the inside, as an owner, but other times they just sell out.