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Ear to the Ground

A Reality Check on Iceland

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Posted on Jan 1, 2013
Atli Harðarson (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Expat Icelander Baldur Bjarnason has had it with people depicting his native land as a post-crash “progressive paradise” when it’s really a “Thatcherite’s wet dream.”

In a scathing voice and with repeated jabs at the lazy and “innumerate,” Bjarnason writes that leftists who shower Iceland with unqualified praise for ditching creditors and the International Monetary Fund, for nationalizing its banks, providing debt relief, growing as an economy, and handling the Icesave dispute—a row over a defunct, privately owned transnational savings account scheme—are foolishly wrong.

Despite actions taken early in the response to the crisis that might merit some of those kudos, Iceland has retained an active relationship with the IMF; it “tried and tried and tried” to save the creditors—its collapsed banks; it re-privatized “in record time” many of the banks it nationalized; it provided debt relief that favored the wealthy; its economy is merely “running to stay in place” and Icelandic taxpayers will still pay for the damage done by Icesave.

Begin with Bjarnason’s report on Iceland’s treatment of the IMF below.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Baldur Bjarnason at Studio Tendra:

1. Iceland told IMF to go jump, go away, left the IMF program etc.

No it didn’t. Just look at the IMF’s country overview page for Iceland and read the reports.

(Too much to read? Well, boohoo. Don’t claim to know what Iceland’s and IMF’s relationship is until you have.)

Even a cursory look should tell you that Iceland didn’t throw the IMF out of the country and that the IMF’s praise for Iceland and our government is effusive and that Iceland followed the IMF’s advice to a tee. There are other details there, if you read through the archives, that are interesting, such as the fact that in several cases, especially when it came to the banks, Iceland actually went further along the libertarian axis than the IMF recommended.

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