President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, in an article published today on Forbes, warns that the economy could worsen, and points to what could be learned from the collapse.
“We have to have much stricter regulations nationally.” the president says in part, “We have to strengthen the operation of the financial authorities of the central banks. And we also have to change their mindset. We have to change the mindsets from the previous laissez faire fundamentalism ideology, which indicated the less regulation the better. We now have to find a new balance between the role of the government in the market economy and the free-moving forces of that economy.”
For fun, contrast this letter with an address the president gave in 2005 to the Wallbrook Club, wherein he praises the “business vikings”, saying “This is a tradition that gives honour to those who venture into unknown lands, who dare to journey to foreign fields, interpreting modern business ventures as an extension of the Viking spirit.” He cites as examples a number of companies, most of which are bankrupt today.
In today’s Forbes piece, the president also emphasized the “huge potentials” discovered in tourism, the fishing industry and the energy sector after the banks’ collapse, adding, “So paradoxically, this collapse of the banking sector has, perhaps, reminded us of the fundamental long-term strength of the Icelandic economy.”