Well, it’s Sunday, and Sunday means Silfur Egils.*
There were four guests today, all with fascinating things to say [as usual]. I won’t get into specifics of the first three, but rather talk briefly about the fourth, Alex Jurshevski, a specialist in debt management who apparently is here to speak to the Icelandic government about his ideas for the economic restructuring of this land. Jurshevski is with a firm called Recovery Partners who, among other things, offer “Financial and Risk Management Advisory services concerning Sovereign Debt Management Operations, investee companies, acquisition targets, loan obligors or financial asset portfolios,” — according to their website.
Mr Jurshevski is clearly very well informed about Iceland’s current position. He also has some strong views and does not mince words. For example, he feels that Iceland should under no circumstances take more loans — that this would constitute the “kiss of death” for this country. Moreover he claims that the loans Iceland is taking from the IMF and Nordic countries are not intended to be used to build up the infrastructure of this society but rather to pay the owners of glacier bonds — foreign investors who bought those bonds prior to the collapse and who have not been able to sell them due to the present currency restrictions. In other words, money is being taken from the financially weak [us, the plebs] to pay the financially strong. IMF as debt collector, redux.
The interview on Silfur Egils with Mr Jurshevski is available here on the RÚV website, but may be taken down in two weeks’ time. It is also available on Lára Hanna’s blog — scroll down to the third interview on the page. Strongly recommended for anyone following Icelandic affairs.
I would also like to call attention to a blog post on the Recovery Partners site that is more or less in line with Mr Jurshevski’s proclamations in the interview, but which was written prior to the Icesave referendum. As far as I know it has not received much attention here, but it presents some familiar issues in a newlight. To wit:
The UK has warned that Iceland faces economic isolation if they do not approve the [Icesave] package as negotiated. The sub text here is: “If you do not do as we say we will try and make this happen to you.” The reality is that the UK has massive problems of its own, is effectively bankrupt and in need of outside assistance itself. Iceland has abundant natural endowments, exports that the world wants and earns significant revenues from the tourism business. Are the Brits going to interdict fly fisherman and nature lovers when they try to visit Iceland? Are they going to stop shipments of fish from landing in the local supermarket in Oslo? We think not. Iceland is perhaps the best placed economy to push ahead on its own. It can feed itself, build and heat its own homes and earns enough net export revenues to buy the little fossil fuels that it needs.
* For anyone who does not know, Silfur Egils is a talk show that dissects current affairs and watched by a large portion of the Icelandic populace.