Professor Hannes Hólmsteinn Gissurarson claims that the reason all three major Icelandic banks, Glitnir, Landsbanki and Kaupþing, collapsed in October 2008, was the hostility of other nations towards Iceland, notably that of the UK and the US. Hannes Hólmsteinn introduced these conclusions at a seminar at the University of Iceland on Thursday, as reported by RÚV.
“The new information revealed in my address,” said Hannes, interviewed by RÚV, “is, first of all, that a week ago the Bank of England’s board proceedings were disclosed for the first time, showing that the bank was very opposed to Iceland becoming a financial centre.”
Hannes claims that “what mattered most was that the US refused to make a currency exchange deal with us,” before then enumerating perceived acts of hostility on behalf of the UK and the Nordic countries “which were jealous towards Icelandic vikings and displeased that some eskimo nation was making itself apparent”.
One of the reasons that the UK refused to assist Iceland through the trouble, Hannes claims, is that they wanted to signal to Scotland that independence is not beneficial to a country. “It was in Alistair Darling’s interest to show the Scots that it did not pay to be independent,” the professor said.
Hannes refuses the notion that the Icelandic banking system, at the time ten times the country’s GDP, had become too big.
Asked about the objectivity of his research, Hannes replied: “I think we must all observe our academic duties, but of course I want to approach this as an Icelander, and thus uphold the cause of Icelanders. I am not ashamed of that in a university founded on [independence hero] Jón Sigurðsson’s centenerary. During the first half of the 20th century, our foremost scholars aimed at boosting the identity of Icelanders and making us proud of our nation, culture and history. I find nothing objectionable with that. In other words, I would find it rather disagreeable if people upheld the British cause, as some of my fellow-teachers did during the ICESAVE dispute.”
Hannes Hólmsteinn Gissurarson is generally perceived as the Independence Party’s main ideologue during the decades around the turn of the century. He has been an avid defender of former Prime Minister and Central Bank manager, now editor of Morgunblaðið, Davíð Oddsson.