People of Iceland "Deserve Our Sympathy" - The Reykjavik Grapevine

People of Iceland “Deserve Our Sympathy”

Published January 11, 2010

A columnist for the Guardian believes that forcing Iceland to pay for Icesave’s failure “is unfair on victims of politicians, bankers and regulators”.
Ruth Sutherland contends that apart from the notion that taxpayers in the UK and the Netherlands should not have to pay for the failure of an Icelandic bank, that there is also a question of proportion. “As the repayment is likely to cost around €12,000 (£10,700) per citizen, Icelanders are highly unlikely to vote in favour [of the current Icesave deal in the national referendum],” she says in part. “Iceland has a population of just under 320,000. The costs of the bailout of Icesave on its citizens are much higher than to the 76 million in the UK and the Netherlands, at about €50 (£45) a head. The distress to Icelanders, many of whom are already losing their homes, will be extreme.”
She continues that “there is an element of caveat emptor”; that is, that as the FSA [Financial Services Authority] and Dutch regulators, “who are meant to look after the interests of consumers, let the Icelanders set up shop … they must bear some responsibility.”
She concludes that an international debt tribunal is probably the most sensible solution, in that it keeps countries responsible without economically crippling innocent citizens. “One aspect of Gordon Brown’s record for which he receives too little credit is his commitment to poor countries; in the light of this, he should show some forbearance towards Iceland. As with other heavily indebted nations, it is unfair to make ordinary people pay for the misdeeds of a wanton elite and the negligence of politicians, bankers and regulators.”

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