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Top Economists: Iceland Did It Right ... And Everyone Else Is Doing It Wrong

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This article first appeared in Washington's Blog



Iceland Shows the Way

Nobel prize winning economist Joe Stiglitz notes:

What Iceland did was right. It would have been wrong to burden future generations with the mistakes of the financial system.

Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman writes:

What [Iceland's recovery] demonstrated was the ... case for letting creditors of private banks gone wild eat the losses.

Krugman also says:

A funny thing happened on the way to economic Armageddon: Iceland's very desperation made conventional behavior impossible, freeing the nation to break the rules.Where everyone else bailed out the bankers and made the public pay the price, Iceland let the banks go bust and actually expanded its social safety net. Where everyone else was fixated on trying to placate international investors, Iceland imposed temporary controls on the movement of capital to give itself room to maneuver.

Krugman is right.  Letting the banks go bust -- instead of perpetually bailing them out -- is the right way to go.

We've previously noted:

Iceland told the banks to pound sand. And Iceland's economy is doing much better than virtually all of the countries which have let the banks push them around.

Bloomberg reports:

Iceland holds some key lessons for nations trying to survive bailouts after the island's approach to its rescue led to a "surprisingly" strong recovery, the International Monetary Fund's mission chief to the country said.

Iceland's commitment to its program, a decision to push losses on to bondholders instead of taxpayers and the safeguarding of a welfare system that shielded the unemployed from penury helped propel the nation from collapse toward recovery, according to the Washington-based fund.

***

Iceland refused to protect creditors in its banks, which failed in 2008 after their debts bloated to 10 times the size of the economy.

The IMF's point about bondholders is an important one:  the failure to force a haircut on the bondholder s is dooming the U.S. and Europe to economic doldrums.

The IMF notes:

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On March 9, 2011 -- The BBC reported that property... by Rehmat Khawaja on Sunday, Aug 26, 2012 at 10:06:06 PM