28 November 2012

How Iceland Restrained the Anglo-American Banks: CBC Interviews Ólafur Grimsson

As you have read here and elsewhere, there is the 'Japanese model' and the 'Swedish model' for dealing with a crisis caused by asset bubbles and fraud from an oversized financial sector and an overly powerful segment of monied interests. 

It is obviously a simplification to slot such a policy issue into two models, but it has some philosophical validity with regard to the resolution of the bad debt that follows such a period of financial recklessness by the Banks.

I should note that I have rarely if ever seen this sort of broader discussion of other policy alternatives in any mainstream US media, and certainly not during the presidential debates which tended to focus on soft issues, distractions, and style.

The Swedish model favors the disposition of the debt failures on the banks, and their management and bond holders.  The Japanese model seeks to sustain the financial status quo and their associated corporate cartels with public debt and social policy adjustments.

Iceland has famously followed the 'Swedish model.' Perhaps so well it may better be called the 'Iceland model.'

If it is not apparent, what made the difference was the resolute manner in which the people of Iceland rejected the deal offered to them by the Banks and their politicians.

Americans made some initial attempts to prevent such bailouts as in TARP, before their politicians caved in to the 'bullet and the bribe.'  But lost their fervor in the co-opting of the Tea Party movement, and even turned against the Occupy Wall Street movement in the face of a determined media campaign to portray them as outsiders, cranks, and radicals.  

As a smaller nation with a stronger sense of community, the Icelanders receive more of their information from diverse and direct personal sources, rather than through interpretation and packaging of the news by a few large media outlets. They also seem less disposed to make a 'war on the weak' amongst their own people than the larger, more impersonalized nations with less homogenous populations.

The US, the UK, and the rest of Europe are currently following the 'Japanese model' of pretend and extend, supporting those who benefited from the bubble, the wealthy elite, with sovereign debt and a policy of austerity for the public. 

The US and the UK seem likely to do so since they are the home ground of the banking cartel and the financial status quo, but the path that Europe is taking is a bit of a surprise considering they are supposed to be progressive and 'socialists.'  It is no wonder that many of the key decision making slots are being 'handled' as they are by the monied interests, and their friends in big media are weaving a campaign of pride and nationalistic divisiveness to harness the darker side of human nature.  It has worked before, at least twice in Germany during the last century, as you may recall.

Neither approach is easy or perfect.  But it does seem that one is more just and effective than the other.