Monday, October 20, 2008

ICELAND'S ECONOMY

The Economist has published an interesting insight into Iceland's recent economic crisis (link):

"Iceland has been growing smartly in recent years. The country has low unemployment and income per person is somewhat above the average in the European Union. Huge investments in green energy and aluminium smelting have drawn inflows of foreign investment and promise to underpin exports for years to come. But on these sound foundations, Iceland has also built a financial house of cards. The country’s three largest banks have expanded headlong abroad since two of them were privatised in 2003, amassing assets of about €125 billion ($180 billion) by the end of 2007, compared with an economy of just €14.5 billion. Many of these assets were funded by lenders in fickle wholesale markets. In early 2006 less than 30 cents in every loan issued was backed by deposits. Iceland’s households also racked up debts amounting to 213% of disposable income. Britons and Americans owed just 169% and 140% of disposable income respectively—figures that make them seem almost sober by comparison."

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