Monday, 9 March 2009

Land of ice and fire and debt

Great article in the April Vanity Fair about how Iceland got itself into its current financial debacle. Though the article doesn't mention Baugur or any of Iceland's other retail interests, it does include this damning description of how banking in the country worked: "You have a dog, and I have a cat. We agree that they are each worth a billion dollars. You sell me the dog for a billion, and I sell you the cat for a billion. Now we are no longer pet owners, but Icelandic banks, with a billion dollars in new assets."

Iceland happens to be one of my favourite countries. I'd happily move there in a minute. In its starkness, it's perhaps the most beautiful place I've ever visited. (And Icelanders are such prodigious drinkers that they make the Friday night at your local pub look like a Salvation Army meeting.) If nothing else, perhaps its current crisis will make it a more affordable destination for travellers--I know I'm keeping an eye out with a view to head back once again.--SC

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