A new article in the Huffington Post by economist Robert Wade from the LSE and Sigurbjörg [Silla] Sigurgeirsdóttir from the U of Iceland is a chilling read. It gives a pretty concise account of the machinations of the Independence Party and their cronies in the lead-up to the meltdown, and proves how a handful of people subversively seized power in Iceland — and can do so elsewhere.
With near-exclusive access to information, power brokers can also brand it for the media and public to suit their own purposes, with only a few able to counter them. The Oddsson and later Haarde government proved masterful at this. They relied primarily on the banks’ research departments for economic analysis. Iceland’s National Economic Institute had built a reputation for independent thinking and, at times, published unwelcome reports, warning that the economy’s management was going haywire. Oddsson abolished it in 2002. Statistics Iceland, the public data agency, was notably cowed into suppressing unfavourable information. And the University of Iceland bowed to pressures to make its Economic and Social Research centres self-funding–that is, to rely on finding buyers for commissioned research–with the convenient result that they no longer published big-picture reports with a critical edge.