John Hopkins on Sat, 9 Jan 2010 12:11:58 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Iceland on the brink, reformatted

Hei Felix!

> Now, the law will be voted upon by the citizens of Iceland. As far as I can 
> tell, it's the first time that a developed country with functioning 
> democratic and civil society institutions is being forced to accept 
> treatment usually reserved for developing countries. Whether or not this is 
> possible, we will see, on February 20th.

more interesting would be to see what happens to daily life in Iceland if the 
population votes down the Icesave agreement.  Their Nobel writer, Halldor 
Laxness most influential book, Independent People, had a hand in forging their 
sense of identity which is very much about being small, but being "independent." 
  And that they can "play with the big boys."

The entire financial melt-down has reminded me frequently of a story I tell from 
when I first moved there in the late 1980's where, as I learned the language, I 
came across an cover article in the weekend magazine to the dominant national 
newspaper Morgunbladid (now headed by the former PM and Central Bank chair 
Oddsson (!!), see below).  The cover contained the text: "Icelanders are the 
Strongest, most Beautiful, and Smartest people in the world."  I translated this 
from Icelandic, and with difficulty started to read the article.  I had thought 
it would be a satirical look at some cultural critique or so (thinking NY Times 
or New Yorker article).  After I got bogged down with understanding what I was 
reading, amused at the headline, I asked my wife, a native, what it was about. 
Turns out is was a dead serious article outlining why the headline was a 
verity...  (enough said)...

> Why are Icelanders so angry about the deal?
> Many Icelanders resent the fact they are being asked to foot the bill for 
> the mistakes of bankers and regulators. They say the repayments, which 

These weren't mistakes but a combination of incredible premeditated corrupt 
greed rampant in the banking sector recently deregulated under the Independence 
Party starting in the 1990's (Prime Minister David Oddsson leading the 
Reaganomics-like charge, and who was the Chair of the Central Bank until 
forcibly removed from his position months after the main financial crash of last 
October 2008).  All four main banks were privatized during the IP regime -- sold 
off to cronies of the Party -- and it was these banks/bankers who through hubris 
and naivete lead an international scam, leveraging their assets up to a factor 
of 10x (more in some cases).

You can read up and catch links/interviews from some front line witnesses at The 
Icelandic Weather Report blog by Alda SigmundsdÃttir --

Not ONE of the bankers guilty of this have been brought to judicial or 
extra-judicial justice by the Icelanders -- they are not angry enough to do 
that, but they are angry enough to not want to be saddled with the bank debts 
that drove 15 years of excess that was shared by the entire population that 
never asked questions about what was going on...

so it goes...


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