Oslo becomes the most expensive city in the world - Taipei Times
Fri, Aug 22, 2003 - Page 7 News List

Oslo becomes the most expensive city in the world


The Norwegian capital of Oslo on Wednesday found itself at the top of one league that it does not pay to win -- as the world's most expensive city.

A comparison of the prices of goods and services around the globe by Swiss financial-services group UBS found that Oslo has replaced the perennial high-cost city Tokyo as the league leader.

Using a basket of more than 100 common goods and services, but excluding rent and housing, the UBS researchers found that Oslo was ten percent more costly than Hong Kong, Tokyo or New York, and nearly 20 percent more expensive than its Scandinavian neighbor Copenhagen.

London was ranked seventh, with an index rating of 98.9 compared with Oslo's 117.8 and New York's 104.5.

Mumbai, the financial capital of India, sits at the bottom of the list of 70 cities with a rating of 28.7, just below Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires, with 30.6.

"It is interesting that Buenos Aires now ranks so far down the league table, since the Argentinian capital was the most expensive city in South America three years ago, before the economic crisis and the decoupling of the peso from the US dollar," UBS said.

The high-octane performance of Oslo can be put down to the strong appreciation of Norway's currency, the krone, while Tokyo's fall from the top spot after many years as the world's costliest city is the result of Japan's weak economy and lower prices.

The good news for Norwegians is that their higher prices are both caused and mitigated by higher wages. The survey ranked Oslo fourth highest in earnings, behind Zurich, Copenhagen and Basel in Switzerland.

Mumbai again propped up the table, with workers earning only 3.1 percent of the wages paid in Zurich.

The survey has some valuable evidence about the effect of the euro. It found that the euro has caused prices of many goods and services to converge within the single currency zone, but UBS said there was "still a long way to go before prices are harmonized."

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