Iceland #2 This and that

I am here.  On arising Monday, I was met with the kind of weather one expects here in March.  It was blustery, with overcast skies and occasional rain. Before leaving, Einar and I had lunch with Huskie (another instructor) and then spend a few hours in the ICE SAR office. 

Monday was a big news day because it is the first day of the corruption trial of the former PM of Iceland.  Many believe that he is a scapegoat for the financial crisis that befell Iceland in 2008.  In the end, as in the US, it is the privilege of the newly empowered party to beat up their predecessors.  The irony of course is that although he is not completely blameless, the groundwork was laid by his predecessors and others more culpable have been let off.  As Einar said, the former captain steered the ship of state toward an iceberg and then handed the helm over to his successor before the collision.  Though I could not understand the news cast, the former PM had a look of equanimity, an almost resigned sense of amusement.  No one I talked to had any doubt as to the unfairness of it all.  They laughed when I asked if this was a kangaroo court.  It was a new expression for them but one that made sense.

I don’t understand all of the details, but from the govt, to the banks and down to inexperienced investors, the eyes of Icelanders were bigger than their stomachs.  Many individuals were playing fast and loose with investments, with hubris rather than real knowledge.  The banks made choices that were predicated on delusions and they over extended their capabilities.  When things crashed Icelanders were shocked and demoralized.  The announcement came with reassurances that only one large bank would fail.  Soon, others did as well.  Sound familiar?  Despite Parliament’s plan to seek bailout money for the failed private banks, Icelanders resisted.  Their currency has been significantly devalued (1:60; now 1:125), but they are slowly working their way out of the mess. 

They often use the expression “that is a 2007 idea” or some variation to indicate a foolish or unjustifiably optimist idea.  2007 was the apex of their financial delusion.  They are resigned and seem to have surprisingly little bitterness.  

The class starts on Tuesday.


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