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Michael George Haddad for Quartz

Inside the secretive world of sovereign wealth funds

You’ve probably never heard of Yngve Slyngstad, and that’s understandable. As the financial world buzzes around big-name CEOs like Larry Fink, Jamie Dimon, and Steve Schwarzman, this Norwegian bureaucrat slips happily into the background. He flies economy, doesn’t have a personal assistant, and believes his salary of $800,000—around that of a mid-ranking managing director at Morgan Stanley—is unfairly high.

However, Slyngstad runs Norway’s sovereign wealth fund—which, with around $1 trillion in assets, is twice the size of Morgan Stanley’s investment management fund. The fund controls about 1.4% of all global stocks, and when it throws its weight around, it can really move markets. Some call Slyngstad the “$1 trillion man.”

Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) like Slyngstad’s are major players in finance and venture capital, commanding about $8 trillion in combined assets—equal to around 10% of global GDP. Their goals often diverge from those of traditional private-sector investors, with much longer investment horizons and, as state-backed actors, some ambiguity as to whether their aims are solely financial.

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