The capital controls that have helped to stabilize the króna in the wake of the 2008 collapse and assist Iceland’s economy in achieving some growth are both a blessing and a curse. Reuters reports that the same controls that have helped Iceland to sustain a 2% growth – greater than that being experienced throughout continental Europe – are weighing down the country’s big ticket companies, like gaming powerhouse and Eve Online creators CCP, which operate on a global scale and need to freely conduct business with investors operating in foreign currencies. “The economic remedy has now become part of the problem,” said CCP CEO Hilmar Pétursson. “We are not building the company as fast as we could from a global perspective.” The capital controls make it very difficult for the company to purchase the foreign currency it needs and to conduct business with equity investors abroad. While 2% growth is admirable compared to Iceland’s European peers, it is still well below the 4.5% the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had predicted for the country in 2011 through 2013, due, in part, to inflation being stubbornly high and for ongoing intervention from the Central Bank to keep the currency afloat. Reuters notes that the parliamentary elections scheduled for April are only adding to the uncertainty in the country, as voters are growing weary of austerity. “Polls show centre-right parties [Independence Party and Progressive Party] widely seen as responsible for the crisis may replace a leftist government.”
Icelandic candy manufacturer Nói Síríus is searching for volunteers for a “tasting panel” for the company’s product development department. The tasters chosen would be sent new candy prototypes and asked to mark them, to help Nói Síríus decide which products should make it into production. In the past few years 40-50 families have been sent these prototypes to try out but the company has now decided to expand the testing group and advertised the position on Facebook. Vísir reports that within 20 minutes 514 people had volunteered and at time of writing over 1.300 people had commented on the post,
Scientist have been busy interpreting the newest data from Bárðarbunga but cannot seem to agree on what precisely the data indicates, reports Vísir. Kristín Vogfjörð, Director of Research at the Icelandic Met Office believes that based on her interpretations of the GPS data, the pressure is receding and the likelihood of eruption is minimising. Meanwhile, Ingi Þorleifur Bjarnason, a research scholar with the Insitute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland interprets the data differently, believing that the pressure is increasing and that the volcano is rising in preparation for eruption. Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson, geophysicist and professor at the University of Iceland
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
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
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
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.