Look up what Birgitta Jonsdottir has to say.
Flashback: Iceland stares into Icesave abyss | EU executive recommends fast-track membership for Iceland | No solution in dispute over Iceland deposits | Iceland sets date for Icesave vote | Iceland says IMF aid likely delayed | Iceland blocks central bank debt repayment deal | Icelandic parliament rolls over, votes for EU membership | Iceland to be fast-tracked into the EU | Iceland’s government collapses | In Iceland, the heat is on | Police fire pepper spray at Iceland protesters | Icelanders storm central bank in protest | Iceland inflation soars to 17.1% | 5 injured during protest in Iceland over economic meltdown
Simon Bowers, the Guardian
March 5, 2010
Icelandic voters are tomorrow expected to deliver a landslide “no” in a referendum over unpopular legislation to repay Britain and the Netherlands after the two nations stepped in to guarantee deposits at failed online bank Icesave.
Polls suggest about 75% of people are expected to vote down the Icesave agreement in tomorrow’s ballot, called after the country’s president refused to accept a deal narrowly passed by the Icelandic parliament.
A no-vote would set Iceland on a potentially disastrous collision course with the international financial markets and further sour relations with the British and the Dutch, who are owed Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£2.35bn and ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬1.33bn (Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£1.2bn) respectively.
Credit ratings agency Moody’s last month warned it might downgrade Iceland’s debt to junk status, as other agencies have, if the latest agreement was defeated in the vote. A failure to reach a deal with Britain and the Netherlands would freeze a $4.75bn (Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£3.16bn) programme of emergency loans from the International Monetary Fund, neighbouring Nordic states and others.
Despite weeks of diplomacy, an alternative repayment plan acceptable to all countries has yet to emerge, though recent days have seen signs of a possible breakthrough, with talk of Iceland being granted a two-year interest holiday.
Finance minister Steingrimur Sigfusson said the idea had been put on the negotiating table, but there remained other outstanding issues to resolve. “You might question how meaningful voting is, but we are where we are,” said Sigfusson.
Having been the driving political force behind the unpopular existing agreement, with fresh negotiations afoot even he has struggled in recent days to make the case for a yes vote.
“Many will welcome their chance to express their dislike of the whole Icesave affair,” he concedes. “Most people will probably protest the whole affair, this terrible incident. Obviously people are disappointed about it. There is never going to be a happy ending to this sad story.”
Leftwing politicians and grassroots activists, some from the same left-green party as Sigfusson, have sought to cast the Icesave referendum as a broader rejection of Iceland’s IMF pact, or even as an ideological protest against international capitalism.
Ogmundur Jonasson, who resigned as health minister last autumn in protest over Icesave and IMF strictures, said: “This is a dispute between people and capital, property rights and human rights. Maybe we need a little bit of revolution – this is why many people in finance dislike the referendum, because it is symbolic. It is people questioning the rights of capital.”
Jonasson insists Iceland’s 315,000-strong population cannot afford the debts being heaped upon it by foreign lending institutions. He points to closing hospital wards, rising unemployment, home foreclosures and a 30% decline in Icelanders’ disposable income.
Grassroots leader Birgitta Jonsdottir, a direct action campaigner who was elected to parliament last year, describes an intertwined package of Icesave, IMF and other bailout loans as “economic warfare”.
She says Icelanders are furious with the British chancellor, Alistair Darling, for responding to the Icelandic banking meltdown by placing Landsbanki and the finance ministry on a list of “financially sanctioned regimes”, alongside Burma, North Korea and al-Qaida.
She said: “I think it is something the British should apologise for.” Jonsdottir believes Iceland could have escaped meltdown but for this move by Darling.
A long-delayed Icelandic Truth Commission report scheduled to be published within days is expected to give a forensic account of the events leading up to the country’s 2008 banking meltdown. The 2,000-page document will contain chapters on both the Icesave affair and Iceland’s pitiful depositor guarantee fund.
Meanwhile, Sigfusson struggles to contain his frustration at popular opposition to Icesave proposals. “These delays are not without a price. It is not free to keep spending time struggling with Icesave. It creates great uncertainty and delays economic advancement.
“Maybe there is some misunderstanding that this can be voted out of existence. We still need to deal with the issue. It doesn’t disappear.”
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Environment Head Wants Global Warming Tax | Ottawa considering aid for private broadcasters | Financial Post editor: America’s future at risk of ‘inflationary outburst’ | U.N. panel says world should ditch dollar | IMF poised to print billions of dollars in ‘global quantitative easing’ | G20 officials pledge ‘whatever action necessary’ to revive economy | Changes to law could affect navigation of Canadian waters, critics say | Mainstream Financial Publication Finally Admits that Austrian Economists Were Right | Global recession deepening, Geithner says | Obama calls for G20 joint action | UK Central Bank begins using ‘new’ money | Brace for sharp slump, IMF warns Canada | IMF, World Bank predict a global recession | Worst crisis since 1930s says Fed, calls for ‘forceful action’ | Jobs data grim, Flaherty says | Atlas felt a sense of dÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â©jÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â vu | UK government takes control over Lloyd’s bank | Canada expects EU free-trade talks soon: Stockwell Day | GM pensions: Who’s responsible? | Stimulus needed now, Bank of Canada says | GM says it will go bust in days without new US bail-out | Terence Corcoran: Ontario’s green energy plan sneaks in feed-in taxes | Time to emulate Roosevelt’s New Deal and create green jobs | Central bank tactics pushed to brink | Ontario facing massive deficit | Obama outlines ‘hard choices’ budget | UK: Loss-making Northern Rock to pay bonuses to managers | IMF emergency fund is doubled to $500bn, Northern Rock bank granted $14bn bailout | EU backs sweeping new financial rules, more power for IMF | GM wants twice as much taxpayer’s money | Volcker sees crisis leading to global regulation | Gold Tops $1,000, First Time Since March as Recession Deepens | Stocks Drop Around the World; Stoxx 600 Falls to 6-Year Low | Greenspan backs bank nationalisation | Behemoth budget bill to be rammed through parliament unread | Obama signs stimulus bill | Congressman warns unread ’stimulus’ bill will prolong agony | Gordon Brown seeks sweeping reforms to give IMF global ’surveillance role’ | $787B stimulus package passes through U.S. Congress | Paul Martin prescribes international regulatory body for ailing fiat economies | US Congress reaches deal on economic stimulus package | World stocks fall on skepticism over U.S. bank plan | Next US bailout could top $1-trillion | Geithner Said to Have Prevailed on the Bailout | Canada lost 129,000 jobs in January: StatsCan | Economic crisis: The shakeup Canadians need? | Pass stimulus or watch out, Obama warns | Canadian credit card delinquencies rising | Iceland to be fast-tracked into the EU | France responds to economic downturn with a general strike | U.S. House passes $819B economic stimulus | World Economic Forum elite blame ‘profit’, not fraud, for crisis | Fed infrastructure money requires provincial spending | Ignatieff lets government stand with budget amendment demand | Rewriting the rulebook for 21st-century capitalism | Obama urges Republicans to support economic plan | The budget: Global shock therapy | All maxed out? Budget measures would improve credit access | $12B for infrastructure forms key pillar of stimulus package | Few surprises as government turns on the spending taps | U.S. Senate confirms Geithner as treasury secretary despite reservations | Iceland’s government collapses | Optimistic central bank expects speedy economic rebound | Ottawa risks erasing decade of debt reduction | Canadian, U.S. energy policies to be inextricably linked: Prentice | Business Development Bank will get $350M injection, Clement says | Prominent Economist: Crisis Caused By Government Interventions | New UK bank bailout | Vancouver dodges public referendum requirement for funding to finish Olympic Village | Zimbabwe unveils 100 trillion dollar banknote | Financial crisis: Bank of America given $138bn rescue package | Q&A: Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks with The Post’s John Ivison | Premiers to press Harper for infrastructure boost | Vancouver mayor to recall legislature to handle Olympic Village crisis | Bring in a Canadian securities regulator: Flaherty’s handpicked business panel | Merged Citigroup, Morgan brokerage would be largest | Obama to visit Canada, Tories to propose ‘integrated carbon market’ | Brace for a big, ‘comprehensive’ budget: Harper | Canadians starting to save cash, shun debt | GM’s U.S. bailout deal bars strikes | European Leaders Call For New Global Order | Transport Minister Baird calls for dramatic action on stimulus package | Obama calls for ‘dramatic action’ on stimulus package | UK PM unveils ‘New Deal’ plan to create 100,000 jobs | Flaherty vows short-lived deficit, consults corporate chiefs on spending initiatives | Analyst: One Third Of Banks Could Collapse or Merge In 2009 | Auto bailout gives Federal, Provincial governments incremental nationalization powers | Banks won’t say where U.S. bailout money going | UK: Bailiffs get power to use force on debtors | Kissinger Calls For New International System Out Of World Crises | Canadian auto bailout could reach more than $4-billion | U.S. to spend $17.4-billion to ‘rescue’, nationalize auto industry | Harper government plans deficits as deep as $30 billion | Flaherty appoints business leaders to economic advisory council | IMF Chief Warns Of Riots In Response To Economic Crisis | Bank of Canada ready to monetize distressed equities | Canada may backstop ABCP rescue: Flaherty | The ugly spectre of ‘new Keynesianism’ and the self-appointed Guardians | Army ‘Strategic Shock’ Report Says Troops May Be Needed To Quell U.S. Civil Unrest | Federal government, Ontario agree on $3.3B auto bailout package | ‘Outrage’ greets banks’ failure to match rate cut | State to bail out, control US auto industry | Get close to Obama on economy and security, paper says | Financial Times: And now for a world government | Terence Corcoran: It’s Twilight for Detroit and the U.S. economy | Mexico to downsize metal in coins to save a few cents | Automakers seek $6B aid package from Ontario, federal government | Bank of England mulls “nuclear option” of cash injection | Zimbabwe tackles cash shortage amid riots and looting | Icelanders storm central bank in protest | Liberals and NDP sign unprecedented pact; to pursue stimulus, carbon taxes | UN Climate Change Conference open with call for ‘co-operation’ | UK closer to joining euro, EU commission president says | Iceland turns 90 amid economic ruin, currency freeze | TSX drops 600 points, N.Y. also falls | Britain buys control of Royal Bank of Scotland | Iceland inflation soars to 17.1% | Canada in recession: OECD | Maybe we should look at Zimbabwe before trying to print our way out of a money crisis | Britain to introduce massive stimulus package | Obama appoints architects of economic collapse, financial globalism to economic team | Jim Flaherty Urging Greater Federal, International Control over Canadian economy | Citigroup seeks ‘emergency cash’ | Deficits ‘essential,’ Harper says | Harper vows Canada will remain open to international trade | 5 injured during protest in Iceland over economic meltdown | ‘Hard decisions’ needed during economic crisis: throne speech | Paulson, Bernanke defend change of plan: $700-billion now to be given directly to banks | After G20 meeting, Ottawa ready to spend to spark economy | Congress Accuses Federal Reserve Bagman Of Bailout “Bait and Switch” During Angry Hearing | Flaherty eyes sale of Canadian government assets | Analysts Predict Hyper-Inflation To Push Gold To $2000, Oil to $300 | Terence Corcoran: Rescuers pulling market under | U.S. government won’t use bailout fund to buy troubled assets | Ottawa to pour another $50B into mortgage markets | Bank of Canada adds $8B to credit markets | Merrill CEO: Economic Environment Recalls 1929 | Fed Hides Destination Of $2 Trillion In Bailout Money | PM, premiers agree to speed up infrastructure investment | Flaherty lauds Keynesian global ‘economic stimulus’ strategies | Who are the Architects of Economic Collapse? | The Bush gang’s parting gift: a final, frantic looting of public wealth | IMF may need to “print money”, act as “world’s central bank” as crisis spreads | Morgan Chase Exec Brags Bailout Is for Takeovers, Restructuring, Not Lending | Draft letter calls on IMF to play critical role in financial crisis | Ottawa to guarantee interbank lending | More cash needed to save economy: Bernanke | Wall Street banks in $70bn staff payout | German parliament backs bail-out | Regulator says brokers failed on ABCP, sets new guidelines | US Bailout Cost Heads Towards $5 Trillion | Market Euphoria Dissipates | Loonie leaps, then reverses course | $25B credit backstop for banks ‘not a bailout’: Harper | Brown wants ‘global’ bank support | US considers following British example of taking stakes in banks | New World Order: Global co-operation, nationalisation and state intervention — all in one day | TSX closes up 226 points in wild day after rate cuts | Federal Reserve Moves to Monetize Commercial Paper Debts | Stocks recoup some losses after markets hit by panic selling | Star column blames ‘Capitalism’ for market woes, offers false choice: Authoritarianism or Socialism | Bank of Canada greases financial system with $12B in new cash | Stock markets drop despite bailout | Why Paulson’s Plan is a Fraud | Representatives Were Threatened With Martial Law In America Over Bailout Bill | Congress Rejects (First) Bail-Out Plan | Congressman Ron Paul: Bailout Will Destroy Dollar, World Economy | Paul Martin calls for ‘global solution’ | Markets sink as woes spread | UK banking shares plunge as crisis deepens | Congressman Ron Paul Schools Fed Chairman Bernanke on the Bailout Plan | Bailout is “petty cash”, Inflation is the Federal Reserve’s real crime | Private Federal Reserve Makes Power Grab as Bush, McCain Urge Congress to Approve Plan | Canadian Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal in ABCP case | Last major investment banks in U.S. change status | U.S., British market regulators ban short-selling | Next Federal Reserve bank bailout round could cost taxpayers 1$ Trillion Dollars | Bank of Canada piles on in global inflationary swindle | Central banks continue inflating global economy | Central Banks Move to Transfer Wealth from Taxpayers to Banks | Crisis on Wall St. as firms collapse | Goldman-Sachs Alumni Hold Reins of Financial System | Frontrunners emerge in scramble to save another major bank | Lehman Brothers on Verge of Collapse, Wall Street Fears | US Treasury nationalizes Freddie Mae, Fannie Mac | Cities Debate Giving Away Public Infrastructure to Bankers | Court Grants Big Banks Immunity from Lawsuits over Derivatives Losses | Bush Calls for New Highway Tolls, More Private Funding of Roads | US mortgage firm bailout includes rider clause to expand police state: all credit card transactions now to be reported to IRS | Global ‘liberalization’ illusion under threat. Economist calls for world economic regime, Keynesian saviour. Irony? | Federal Reserve cites global stakes in Fannie and Freddie rescue | Financial ’super cop’ role for Fed | What Really Killed Bear Stearns? | Soros points out regulated markets fail to operate on market fundamentals, calls for more regulation | Competition study calls for lowered barriers to foreign ownership, bank mergers | Massive overhaul urged on foreign investment in airlines, media, and banks | Bilderberg Seeks Bank Centralization Agenda | Secretive Bilderberg Group Reverses Policy, Releases Press Release and Attendance List | Banks face “new world order,” consolidation: report