OK, so the price hikes are starting to hit home now.
Yesterday I went to Hagkaup to pick up a few things and noticed a stack of that sacred harbinger of Christmas by the door: cases of clementines. I was about to grab a case to stick in my trolley when I was stopped short by the price: around ISK 750, up from around ISK 450 last year. Gah!
The next item I went to pick off the shelf – curry paste – was up from ISK 450 to nearly ISK 600, and that’s just from a couple of months ago. A half litre of yogurt – up from around ISK 170 to ISK 230 [and that’s not even imported].
Meanwhile, as everything goes up, most of us are having to take pay cuts. I’ve lowered my rates from before the implosion and EPI is one of the myriad workers who were laid off and then hired back with a reduction in salary. [He’s one of the lucky ones who actually got to keep their jobs.] However, we’re extremely fortunate in that we’re not in massive debt and have no loans in foreign currencies, so we’re doing OK, at least for the time being.
Not so for plenty of other people whose property has depreciated in value to the point that their mortgages are now considerably higher than the value of their properties. Some have actually decided to stop making payments and are considering handing in the keys of their homes to the State Mortgage Fund. They figure that even if their home goes into foreclosure and is auctioned off at a substantially lower price than it’s worth, they’d be better off than if they kept making payments for another year. This is debatable, however – if lots of people decided to take this route, for instance, and many properties were being auctioned off at once, presumably they would fetch prices so low that their calculations would no longer apply.
Today many people here are enslaved to their debts, which have grown massive in the wake of the implosion. It’s like an economic prison. Even if they wanted to leave the country, they can’t, because they can’t get rid of their properties. This means that the people who really are free to leave are young people who don’t own anything – which is even worse. Actually, that is one of the greatest fears around here these days – that people will emigrate en masse and this country will lose some of its best and brightest citizens.
This, too, is part of our current reality, along with Advent concerts and shopping.
And speaking of prisons, how about that inmate who placed an ad in Morgunblaðið today, announcing the death of a fellow inmate, so he could collect donations in his name [see today’s quote in the sidebar]. Shall we give him C for Creativity? Or simply F for F*ckwit?
ALL OUR SNOW IS GONE
And the Yuletide spirit along with it. Boo! Right now we just have a dark, gloomy, overcast day, albeit with pretty coloured lights everywhere. It’s set to freeze again, though, and a storm is forecast to blow through here tonight and tomorrow. Yowsa! Currently 6°C [43F], sunrise was at 11.08, sunset due for 3.33 pm.