Published September 27, 2013
Five years ago, The Grapevine published its first post-collapse issue. The cover featured the image of a single króna coin, its fish reduced to a mere skeleton. “Welcome to Icelandistan!” read the cover tag.
Nobody could know exactly what was in store for Iceland in early October 2008, but the future certainly looked grim. “HOLY FUCK!” wrote then-editor of the Grapevine, Sveinn Birkir Björnsson, in his editorial that issue. “The last few weeks have wreaked more havoc on this country than anything that’s not directly caused by a natural disaster. Our economy has been reduced to the standards of Eastern Europe at end of the Cold War. As a nation, we are more or less bankrupt.”
Almost overnight, our tiny island nation in the middle of the North Atlantic became the poster-child for the global economic crisis—a shiny example of how to do everything wrong. Enraged Icelanders took to the streets and banged on their pots and pans until the government that presided over the crash toppled over.
In came Iceland’s first purely left-wing government, and before we knew it we had become the poster child for miraculous economic recovery—an equally shiny example of how to do everything right. In particular, the fact that “Iceland let the banks fail” became a catchphrase appearing in almost every post-crash article written about Iceland in the foreign media.
So much emphasis has been put on this (only possible) course of action that Icelanders themselves have perhaps forgotten what else the new government has done to stem the rippling effects of the crash, not to mention all of the events that led up to it. This would at least explain why Icelanders recently returned to power the very same parties that presided over the country as it geared up for meltdown.
Or perhaps the fact that we’re not living in Icelandistan simply isn’t good enough and Icelanders now dream of returning to pre-crash Iceland. After all, we’re going to have to find some way to use those new 10,000 ISK bills—roughly equivalent to the 100 Dollar bill—that are about to go into circulation.