Yesterday’s Silfur Egils* was excellent. The two most notable interviews in my opinion were those with Þorvaldur Gylfason, a professor of economics at the University of Iceland, and with William K. Black, an American lawyer and former bank regulator who is an expert in white-collar crime.
Þorvaldur Gylfason is a man of strong opinions with a keen intellect and common sense. [I interviewed him here a few weeks after the collapse.] He is a regular guest in Silfur Egils and always has something good to say. Yesterday was no exception. I can’t get into everything he said, but for me there were two main points. First, that he would like the Special Investigative Committee into the bank collapse [authors of the Black Report] to continue their work for the Icelandic state as a regulatory body. This would be similar to the National Economic Institute, which was dismantled by Davíð Oddsson when he was prime minister, because he felt they were “too negative”. Secondly, he proposed that Icelandic authorities collaborate with Polish authorities, who recently passed a law to remove from some of the country’s former politicians special pensions and other perks that they had essentially allocated themselves. The same thing happened here in Iceland — just prior to stepping down as prime minister, Davíð Oddsson introduced a bill to raise pension payments for retired politicians to amounts far greater than those for the regular old proletariat. That bill was passed by the Icelandic parliament. For those who understand Icelandic, the interview with Þorvaldur Gylfason can be seen here on the RÚV website.
The interview with William Black was no less interesting. He pointed out aspects of the Black Report – or rather omissions in the Black Report – that are not discernible to the regular layperson. [To be fair, Þorvaldur Gylfason also pointed out some omissions in the Black Report, even though he felt it was fundamentally a very good document.] He also maintained without flinching that the top executives in the Icelandic banks operated with criminal intent and should be tried as criminals. Many people are now calling for the Icelandic government to hire William Black as an advisor, similar to what happened with Eva Joly after she appeared in Silfur Egils. William Black is giving two lectures at the University of Iceland today, and I am very interested to know whether anything comes of his appointment. You can watch the interview with him here on the RÚV website.
RÚV will at some point remove those videos [and some people outside of Iceland sometimes have trouble viewing them], so they are also available on Lára Hanna’s blog [the first and second videos when you scroll down.] Lára Hanna also links to a recent Bill Moyers PBS interview with William Black here.
* An influential weekly talk show that deals with current affairs.