When I first began to teach I rediscovered wonder through a child’s eyes. How immense is the ocean, how fascinating the tiny insect in the grass, how soft a rose petal, how all invading the smell of lavender. God help me as a teacher, mother (grandmother) and inner child never to lose that wonder, and when death calls my name to proceed in intense curiosity, excited by the prospect of new worlds to explore.
Iceland Sentences 26 Corrupt Bankers To 74 Years In Prison
by Maurice Bedard | Jan 8, 2016 | News – LoanSafe.org
(Source: AmericanNewsx) – Iceland just sentenced their 26th banker to prison for his part in the 2008 economic collapse. The charges ranged from breach of fiduciary duties to market manipulation to embezzlement.
When most people think of Iceland, they envision fire and ice. Major volcanoes and vast ice fields are abundant due to its position on the northern part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. (A hot July day in Reykjavik is around 55 degrees.) However, Iceland is also noted for being one of the Nordic Socialist countries, complete with universal health care, free education and a lot other Tea Potty nightmares. Therefore, as you might imagine, they tend to view and react to economic situations slightly differently than the U.S.
When the banking induced “Great Recession of ’08” struck, Iceland’s economic hit was among the hardest. However, instead of rewarding fraudulent banking procedures with tons of bailout money, they took a different path.
Prior to the recession, Iceland had one of the more thriving economies in the world, in spite of the fact that their total population (327,000) wouldn’t even fill a mid-sized American city. When the recession struck, they were among the earliest and hardest hit. However, instead of running to the vaults to shower the banks with money, they let the banks fail. They also resisted traveling down the European/Republican austerity road. Instead, they kept their social programs intact at a time when they were most needed.
And, they sent fraudulent bankers to jail.
When Iceland’s three major banks collapsed, it resulted in defaults totaling $114 billion in a country with agross domestic product (GDP) of only $19 billion. In October, 2008 the parliament passed emergency legislation to take over the domestic operations of the major banks and established new banks to handle them. They did not, however, take over any of the foreign assets or obligations. Those stayed with the original banks, right into bankruptcy.
They then brought charges against several banking executives for fraud and market manipulation, resulting in sentences ranging from four to five and a half years. As the special prosecutor said,
Why should we have a part of our society that is not being policed or without responsibility?
In the U.S., we simply tapped a few wrists with small fines, that ended up being paid by their respective banks.(Can you say “got off scot free?”)
Sending the bank executives off to play rock hockey for a few years didn’t solve the problem, but it did send a message not to do that again.
At its worst, Icelandic currency, the Icelandic krona (ISK) was trading at around 250 ISK per Euro. In order to qualify for an IMF (International Monetary Fund) loan, Iceland raised interest rates to 18%, which, of course, attracted bank deposits. Iceland also received a $2.5 billion loan from Europe’s Nordic countries.
To power its recovery, Iceland utilized its natural advantages such as its clean, cheap geothermal energy to attract the tech industry. Icelandic commercial fishing remained strong and as the general world economy picked up, the tourist industry bloomed. The deeply depreciated krona also helped make Iceland and Icelandic products very attractive, economically. On the banking front, they facilitated domestic debt restructuring and fiscal adjustments as conditions changed.
As to how it has all turned out, here’s what the International Monetary Fund Survey has to say about it:
Iceland has rebounded after the 2008/9 crisis and will soon surpass pre-crisis output levels with strong performance in tourism and fisheries. Debt ratios are on a downward path and balance sheets have broadly been restored. The financial sector is back on track though with some important items remaining on the docket.
As the above survey also states, Iceland is “the first 2008-10 crisis country in Europe to surpass its pre-crisis peak of economic output.”
The krona is now running 142 ISK per Euro. (up from 290/1 in 2008) The 2014 inflation rate was 2.05%.(down from 12.59% in 2008) The wage index is running at 190.9. (up from 132.8 in 2008)
Btw, they did all this while keeping their social welfare intact. (There goes another bagger day-dream.)
Iceland’s President, Olafur Ragnar Grimmson explained how the country managed to recover from the global financial disaster,
We were wise enough not to follow the traditional prevailing orthodoxies of the Western financial world in the last 30 years. We introduced currency controls, we let the banks fail, we provided support for the poor, and we didn’t introduce austerity measures like you’re seeing in Europe.
When asked whether or not other countries, Europe in particular, would succeed with Iceland’s “let the banks fail” policy, President Grimmson gave his answer,
Why are the banks considered to be the holy churches of the modern economy? Why are private banks not like airlines and telecommunication companies and allowed to go bankrupt if they have been run in an irresponsible way? The theory that you have to bail out banks is a theory that you allow bankers enjoy for their own profit, their success, and then let ordinary people bear their failure through taxes and austerity. People in enlightened democracies are not going to accept that in the long run.
Source: Silent Company
“Only the farmers are free because they are not dependent on anyone else,” says father to son in “Farm Boy” (part of the “Little House on the Prairie”series I long ago read with my kids). The statement stayed with me. I love this series as a historical how to, survival guide. “Pa” could do everything, build a house, barn, furniture, grow crops,smoke bacon, hunt, trap and generally survive in the wild (Bear Grills has nothing on those 19th. century pioneers!) Many of the books explain just how he did it too. (If you thought they were just old fashioned kids stories think again – packed full of social historical detail)
Why has this statement stuck with me? The elder brother wanted to go into business where life was easier and more lucrative. Father was explaining to his younger son (Laura’s future husband) why he felt farming was better.Farming has changed a great deal from those times (and seems under attack from big corporations)yet I think there is a kernel of truth still in Pa’s statement. There are few professions in which we can be truly free to live according to our conscience without manipulation from the powers that be.
Living most of my life as a private tutor and children’s entertainer I had a large measure of freedom but not as much as these early pioneers. Of course a great factor is is our being greedy, the more we want the more we are open to manipulation.
I know it doesn’t mean much to you Canadian or US folks but snow is rarely seen more than one or two days each winter here in London (at least not in recent years).
Anddddd my grandson has never seen snow having been born and brought up in Mexico! Imaging my delight on peeking out (just in case) hardly daring to believe, and there it was in all its glowing purity – SNOW!. Not a lot, but enough for us snow deprived folks to transfer to party mode.
My previously Sunday sleepy head daughter stopped pleading with my grandson to “go back to sleep”and jumped out of bed at the news. In half an hour we were off to the lakes!
After spotting dog, swan, bird, and possible rabbit footprints (in addition to his own) building a (miniature) snowman and a brief, fun, but rather ineffectual snowball fight (he is only three.) He asked, “Can we go home to our nice warm house now – he’d discovered the downside of making snowballs lol!)
Goes so well with my post today. Beautiful quote!
“The sound of ‘gentle stillness’ after all the thunder and wind have passed will be the ultimate Word from God.” — Jim Elliot