Iceland’s President Olafur Grimsson sums it up: “How far can we ask ordinary people—farmers and fishermen and teachers and doctors and nurses—to shoulder the responsibility of failed private banks?”
Iceland’s President Olafur Grimsson, surveying the global financial mess, including the pending $112 billion bailout of Ireland’s shaky banking sector, can gloat a bit. His country, he says, is in better shape because it let private banks fail two years ago. —JCL
“The difference is that in Iceland we allowed the banks to fail,” Grimsson said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Mark Barton [Thursday]. “These were private banks and we didn’t pump money into them in order to keep them going; the state did not shoulder the responsibility of the failed private banks.”
Ireland’s Prime Minister Brian Cowen said this week his government has discussed an 85 billion-euro ($112 billion) bailout with the European Union and International Monetary Fund after the country’s banks threatened to bring the euro member to the brink of bankruptcy. Iceland’s banks, which still owe creditors about $85 billion, were split to create domestic units needed to keep the financial system running, while foreign liabilities remained within the failed lenders.
As a consequence, “Iceland is faring much better than anybody expected,” Grimsson said.