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.”
Fortunately for us, the Holurhraun eruption (discussed here and here) has not produced airplane-choking ash clouds nor led to devastating glacial flooding. There have, however, been continuous plumes of sulphur dioxide wafting through mostly North and East Iceland from the site of the Holuhraun eruption, giving police another reason to cordon off a large swath of Iceland from public access. Not that this hasn’t stopped a few idiots from blithely driving into an eruption site anyway. New forms of natural selection ahoy! Minister of Health Kristján Þór Júlíusson is exploring the legalisation of drugs, going so far as to agree
The follow-up to Björk’s 2011 album ‘Biophilia’ will be co-produced by Brooklyn based Venezuelan artist Arca, reports Pitchfork Media. Arca has previously collaborated with Kanye West on his album Yeezus and FKA Twigs on EP2. Björk’s last album Biophilia has far surpassed the boundaries of a simple studio album and by embracing new technology has found its way into Nordic school curriculums and been the inspiration for a film which recently premiered at Manchester International Festival.
A thousand litres of the Christmas beer, Þvörusleikir (named after Icelandic Yule Lad “Spoon Licker”), was poured down the drain at Borg Brugghús in recent days, reports Nútíminn. Árni Long, Borg Brugghús (Borg Brewery’s) master brewer told Nútíminn that he would not distribute a beer he was even a little unsatisfied with. “This is obviously a tragedy for beer enthusiasts like us,” said Árni. “But at the same time it’s something you must learn to tolerate as master brewer for an innovative brewery. These 1.000 litres of Christmas beer simply did not measure up to the standards we set for [our
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, has said women will be included in the UN Conference on women after all, but it remains unclear exactly how they will be included, reports Newsweek. As reported yesterday, Gunnar Bragi announced in a speech at the UN General Assembly that Iceland in cooperation with Suriname was planning to host a “Male Only” UN conference inviting male leaders worldwide to discuss violence against women and other women’s issues. The news was met with a barrage of criticism with people wondering why Iceland, a global leader in gender equality, would purposely exclude women from a
After failed attempts at negotiations with State authorities, surgeons at the national university hospital Landspítalinn will vote, later this week, on a potential strike. The strike action would commence in two weeks and postpone 150 operations each week. 5,000 people currently await operation, according to RÚV. In case of a strike, surgeons would still do emergency operations. Minister of Healthcare, Kristján Þór Júlíusson, has said that he supports the surgeons’ demands and will discuss the matter with Minister of Finance, Bjarni Benediktsson.
Healthcare Minister Kristján Þór Júlíusson has proposed that the State sell some assets to finance the construction of new hospital building. In a radio interview broadcast by RÚV Wednesday morning, he stated: “We should proceed by transferring assets that belong to Icelanders in common to another form of ownership, in order to be able to reconstruct our national hospital, as everyone agrees we must do.” As journalist Jóhann Hauksson already pointed out, in pre-2008 Icelandic, ‘transferring assets to another form of ownership’ would have been simply called privatization. The Minister evaluates State assets at a total neat 1,000 billion ISK,