Lessons from the 2008 Bank Collapse and Iceland’s Subsequent Resurrection  


Thursday, April 7, 2016, New York City  

The Icelandic-American Chamber of Commerce is pleased to invite you to a presentation on “Lessons from the 2008 Bank Collapse and Iceland’s Subsequent Resurrection.” 

Our keynote speaker is Dr. Hannes Hólmsteinn Gissurarson, Professor of Politics, School of Social Sciences, University of Iceland. 

The event takes place on Thursday, April 7, 2016, at 5:30 p.m. in the Volvo Hall at the Scandinavia House on Park Avenue in New York.  Following the presentation, the IACC will host a networking reception for its guests.

Please RSVP to

We hope to see you in New York City, 

The Board of the Icelandic-American Chamber of Commerce


Lessons from the 2008 Bank Collapse and Iceland’s Subsequent Resurrection  

For half a millennium, from 1400 to 1900, no great power took any interest in Iceland. After all, the country had little to offer except her fertile fishing grounds, which were fully accessible anyway.  

This changed in the 20th Century when Iceland became strategically important and President Franklin D. Roosevelt applied the Monroe Doctrine to her. What’s more, under U.S. protection, Iceland acquired the sole right to utilize her offshore fishing grounds and succeeded in developing a sustainable and profitable system of doing so (the ITQ system).  

Iceland subsequently became one of the most affluent countries in the world. However, when the 2007–9 international financial crisis occurred, Iceland had lost her strategic importance. Therefore, she was left to her own devices.  

While the U.S. Fed made substantial (perhaps crucial) dollar swap deals with countries such as Sweden and Switzerland, it refused such a deal to Iceland. At the same time as the U.K. government announced generous support for all other British banks, it closed down the two British banks owned by Icelanders—banks which turned out in the end to be fully solvent.

Moreover, the U.K. government imposed an anti-terrorist law on Iceland, making a partial rescue of the banking sector impossible. The lack of interest shown by the U.S. can be explained by the problematic view that Iceland is a part of Europe, not of North America. The hostility shown by the then-U.K. government, going against the friendly past relations between Great Britain and Iceland, can be explained partly due to utter chaos in Whitehall at the height of the financial crisis, partly by pressure from competitors of the Icelandic banks, and partly by the need of the then-U.K. Labour government to demonstrate to the Scots that Scottish independence was not feasible.  

Nevertheless, bygones should be bygones. Iceland should try to resume friendly, even close, relations with the U.S. and the U.K., and to develop such relations with Canada. After all, Iceland is an island in the North Atlantic, not a continental country. Her two main objectives in foreign affairs are to continue selling fish, tourism and energy to foreigners, and to obtain real security guarantees from the three Anglo-Saxon powers in the North Atlantic.      

When:  Thursday April 7th, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. followed by a receptionat 6:30 p.m. 


Lessons from the 2008 Bank Collapse and Iceland’s Subsequent Resurrection 

Where:  Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue (between 37th and 38th Street), New York  

How:   Suggested donation is $20

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