Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Pop Star Says Something Sensible Shock

The Iceland Weather Report makes the Guardian, and uses splendid prose to describe the range of Icelandic opinion on the proposed IMF loan:

"Some try to placate the masses – and probably themselves – by claiming the loan is merely there as a credit line, a guarantee, and we may not even have to use any of it (hope springs eternal).

Others are wildly indignant about the perceived extortion by the British and Dutch IMF representatives and loudly proclaim they would rather revert back to living in turf houses and spending winters eating pickled whale blubber and chewing on Icelandic moss than take some dastardly IMF handout on those terms.

And then there are those who claim the IMF is the only route to take; that without the loan the Icelandic nation would slowly sink like a stone into the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. That group includes the Icelandic government."

Apparently interest rates in Iceland are now 18%. But no one wants their currency anyway.

The Weather Report also points to a really excellent FT piece from a couple of days ago which quotes Bjork, of all people, on the real meaning of that benighted nations situation:

“Young families are threatened with losing their houses and elderly people their pensions. This is catastrophic. There is also a lot of anger. The six biggest venture capitalists in Iceland are being booed in public places and on TV and radio shows; furious voices insist that they sell all their belongings and give the proceeds to the nation. Gigantic loans, it has been revealed, were taken out abroad by a few individuals and without the full knowledge of the Icelandic people. Now the nation seems to be responsible for having to pay them back.”

Now what I want to know is simply this: is there a Icelandic Left and what's their answer to this*? Because whatever it is I 'll take some of it and apply it liberally to the-much-less-frightening-but-still-scary British situation.

Incidentally, unlike in Britian, no one in Iceland - left or otherwise - seems to think it was about mangers running riot, free of shareholders constraints. Everyone seems to agree it was a power elite issue with the government actively aiding and abetting the financial buffoons (cf.C.Wright Mill or even, whisper it quietly, Marx), not a Burnhamite problem.

Update: there is a Iceland Left: the Left-Green Movement with a claimed c3000 members (1% of pop) and 15% of the vote. However, if they do have a distinctive policy response to their county's financial crisis their website isn't translating it into English for me....

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