Speaking at the 50th anniversary forum of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon abided the long-standing advice about giving speeches at economic forums: open with a joke.
“I’m pleased to be here,” he told attendees. “Even though I had to do some travelling arrangements over the night thanks to the volcano that is showing its might back in Iceland these days, Grímsvötn. We picked an easier name this time. It’s easier than Eyjafjallajökull. If it is going to cause any of you inconvenience, we are sorry, but there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.”
The finance minister then segued into ways in which other disasters – financial ones – can be prevented. Discussing some of the lessons learned from the 2008 bank collapse, he began to list ways in which it could have been avoided. For one, banks should not be allowed to grow to several times the size of the country’s GDP. Nor should a small group of people start and run banks, but rather, a multitude of people should be in the management core of multiple banks. He also advised against the sort of investment overlap between bank managers, clients, and corporations that was prevalent before the crash.
Steingrímur is not well known to the general public for making jokes – his often fiery speeches from his pre-ministerial days are more his trademark – but those who have worked with him can attest that he often employs humour in political and economic discussions. The finance minister’s entire address can be watched here.