food for thought. (I always wondered how they recovered so quickly. Here’s the story)


Iceland Sentences 26 Corrupt Bankers To 74 Years In Prison
by Maurice Bedard | Jan 8, 2016 | News –

(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: AmericanNewsx)

What SHOULD Normal Be? (A morning rant!)


We accept many things as “normal” that we should not, war, crime, hate, disease, dishonesty, loneliness, pollution etc. I’m not speaking day dreams or delusional fantasy, but things that lie within the realm of human choice.
I believe this world could have and should have been different; that the “normal” we accept is actually far from what normal should be. If we accept these things as “normal” we lower our expectations.

It should be “normal” that people live to a ripe old age disease free dying peacefully as their bodies slowly reach “expiry date”. Cancer, heart failure, and all the other “nasties” could be the exception to the norm if only choices were made for the good of the population not quick money (don’t get me started on that one!) Even now there are sufficient resources to feed the hungry if folks like Gandi, Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa were in charge instead of self centered greedy corporations and politicians, and the earth could be healed given time. Why do we accept it as “normal” that there are haves and have not?

Why do we stand by as our children are slaughtered (whether victims or perpetrators) in wars fought for commercial gain? Why is there little alternative than for them to join in the soul corrupting deluge that tends to corrupt modern society.
There are so many good people on this earth why should the corrupt rule and we take it as being “normal”?

The Good the Bad and the Beaches.


(Impressions of Mexico – off the tourist track.)
Wandering around ruins of ancient, less frequented pyramids I gave thanks for the girl who insisted I needed extra strong bug spray, for my broad brimmed sun hat and techniques of bag clutching gleaned from my Far East travels. It was, I surmised, a land of saints and sinners, the wonderful friends helping at my daughter’s wedding and those “other folks” who seemed intent to steal, cheat and con at every opportunity. Could I blame them? Probably not.
Seeing ancients trying to make a living washing windscreens or playing guitar at beach tables, their skin a sea of wrinkles from long hours in the sun, wrung my heart, along with the young girl whose mother enforced dubious tactics to cajole my daughter to buy a cheap toy. I saw the fear and humiliation in her eyes.
We found a guy knocking on windows saying his wife just died of cancer and he had no way to get home to his daughters. Was he telling the truth? I don’t know. The tears at least were genuine as were the shaking shoulders as he broke down in my daughter’s arms. Whatever the truth of his story he was desperate. We each gave him the usual 10 pesos (it’s only 50 pence, if it were a con we wouldn’t miss it).
I saw a lot of the seamier side of life, but then I was looking. We were to their eyes “rich foreigners” who could afford to give and they lined up to sell us something. Even China was not like that. I began to understand why they swamp the US borders. As generally is the case, underlying corruption seemed the base of the problem.
Then there was the good. The smiling friendly faces, honest folks who had opportunity to cheat me (due to my ignorance) but chose not to, friends and co-workers of my German son in law who worked to bring the wedding to pass, his brother who took over the bar when the waiters and barman proved totally hopeless, the inclusiveness of the crowd, dragging everyone up to dance, the fun and freedom as folks doffed their wedding gear to plunge in the pool and escape the heat.
Later I discovered the beaches, cool, fabulous, blue sky edged with pale soft sand and waves just cool enough to refresh, a solace to the soul. We passed the best afternoon at one such place discovering a “pearl of great price” an honest restaurant with a waiter who could juggle all our bills and requests with ease, shady umbrellas and deck chairs with the surf a few yards away (we left a hefty tip.)
Now I’m home enjoying gentle English summer and shopping in streets guarded by police that keep law and order instead of seeking bribes. I give thanks for my heritage for not all enjoy it and I know it was dearly bought.