The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookies before using this site. Please see our Subscription Terms and Conditions.


All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2021 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.
Banking

The failed state of Iceland

The full horror of the country’s bank-led collapse is still emerging. A new generation of regulators is trying to sort out the mess as prosecutors attempt to bring the perpetrators to justice but, as Elliot Wilson discovers in Reykjavik, there’s a long road ahead to recovery.

IN A WORLD where international reputations seem to topple like dominoes every few months – Greece being the latest casualty – it’s worth stepping back in time to the mother of all financial disasters. When Iceland’s banking sector disintegrated in autumn 2008 it spelled the end for the nation’s big three lenders – Kaupthing, Glitnir and Landsbanki – creating the greatest banking collapse relative to economic size in history.

But it did much more. It shredded a tiny nation’s hard-won economic reputation in a heartbeat. It bankrupted hundreds of Icelandic firms, many of which had grown fat and rich with cheap loans from local banks. Worst of all it impoverished tens of thousands of poorly advised (and often greedy) consumers, who are now deeply in debt and bitter towards everyone – bankers, politicians, regulators and the entire global financial system that allowed Iceland to fly so high before burning up and falling to Earth.

While the eyes of the world are elsewhere, it’s interesting to see how a new generation of politicians and regulators in Reykjavik, backed by a coterie of teak-tough international advisers, are seeking to scrape the country’s tattered economy off the floor.

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.

SUBSCRIBE ONLINE TODAY

Unlimited access to Euromoney.com and Asiamoney.com

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually

FREE 7 DAY TRIAL

Unlimited access to Euromoney.com and Asiamoney.com, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors

LOGIN NOW

Already a user?

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree