A Grapevine service announcement LOOK BUSY! Bárðarbunga Volcano Watch: The Morning Edition

Housing Finance Fund Downgraded By Moody’s

Published February 21, 2013

Bond credit rating organisation Moody’s has downgraded Iceland’s largest mortgage provider to ‘junk’ status. The Housing Finance Fund (HFF), a government-owned lender, is seeking a bail out from the government to avoid defaulting on its debts, Bloomberg reports.
“There’s no risk of default. The Treasury, if it needed to, would bail out the fund,” said Sigurður Jón Björnsson, the chief financial officer of HFF. Still, the fund is currently severely lacking in capital, has been experiencing mounting loan losses, and is fully dependent on market funding, which was the basis for Moody’s downgrade.
The government had already injected 33 billion ISK into the struggling lender in late 2010 as part of a restructuring plan. In November 2012 the government said it would forward another 13 billion ISK to HFF to keep it afloat, however this amount would still leave HFF’s capital ratio at 3%, below the 5% regulatory minimum.



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Wants To Raise Taxes On Tourism

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An MP for the Progressive Party wants to raise taxes on hospitality services and reinstate the VAT for businesses in the tourist industry. Karl Garðarsson, posting on his Facebook, expressed objections to a proposal from the Independence Party to raise taxes on food, while “there is no sign that tourism or associated parties will pay their share.” As RÚV points out, in the summer of 2013 the ruling coalition reversed a change to tax law made by the previous government, which raised the taxes on hotel stays from 7% to 14%. This decision prompted the idea of imposing entrance fees

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Anti-Piracy Group Declaring Bankruptcy Due To Embezzlement

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The board of anti-piracy group Smáís wants to declare bankruptcy, brought on by the former director having allegedly embezzled funds out of the company. RÚV reports that Smáís has recently filed bankruptcy papers with Reykjavík District Court. According to their filing, the main reason cited is that the former director of Smáís, Snæbjörn Steingrímsson, had been funneling money out of the company while at the same time falsifying the company’s financial reports. The embezzlement and false accounting allegedly went on for years, giving the board an inaccurate impression of the actual financial state of Smáís. Furthermore, taxes had not been

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State Broadcasting Archives Need Saving

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Iceland’s state broadcasting service, RÚV, needs help in archiving a wealth of audio and video material going back decades. RÚV reports that many of these archived recordings – some of them going back to 1935 – are in a bad state of disrepair. All told, there are some 10,000 albums, 30,000 reels of tape, 10,000 CDs and thousands of videos featuring interviews, plays, music, news and more. Many of these artefacts are in damaged and fragile condition. Hreinn Valdimarsson, a technician at RÚV, believes the state of the archives is due in large part to a lack of interest in

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Bárðarbunga Earthquake Visualization

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An Icelandic computer scientist has created a data visualization showing all of the Bárðarbunga earthquakes measuring over 1.5 on the Richter scale over the last 48 hours. The data used, he explained, is raw data collected from the Icelandic Met Office (it has not been verified by that office), and will help viewers see how the situation is progressing at the volcano. See the whole visualization in motion here.  

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Cat Shelter Packed With Kittens

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Kattholt cat shelter is tightly packed with lots of kittens in need of a home, reports mbl.is. As this is the most romantic time of year for cats, it is the busiest time of year for Kattholt cat shelter, known in English as the Friends of Cats Society of Iceland. “About 500 cats have been brought to Kattholt this year,” said Kattholt employee Halldóra Snorradóttir. “These are lost and homeless cats and the number of cats coming in never goes down… When cats come to us, we first try to track down their owner and if that doesn’t work we try

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Bárðarbunga Volcano Watch: The Morning Edition

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Bárðarbunga volcano continues to rumble but as yet there is no eruption to report, so here is a round up last night’s news. 01:35 – An earthquake measuring 3 or higher on the Richter scale struck the area around Bárðarbunga volcano around 11:30 pm last night, reports RÚV. Since midnight roughly 50 earthquakes have been reported and in total 1000 earthquakes were measured Wednesday. Scientists flying over Bárðarbunga yesterday confirmed that so far there are no changes to the glacial surface of the volcano. 20:56 - Kristján Jónsson, a geologist with the Icelandic Institute of Natural History, has said that although he cannot confirm

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