The turmoil and public uncertainty concerning the Glitnir takeover by the state as outlined in the last post had pretty much evaporated by the following day. The reason is simple: our economy is in dire straits to put it mildly and wallowing in blame and resentment is a ‘luxury’ that nobody can afford. All hands are needed on deck to address the crisis in which we currently find ourselves.
It’s been an insane week. Unreal. Every day there have been reports that the króna has fallen “to its lowest level yet.” A year ago one US dollar was worth around ISK 60, today it’s worth ISK 112. That’s a 100 percent devaluation against the dollar in one year if you do the math. The euro currently stands at ISK 156 [was at 120 when we were in Croatia three weeks ago]. The normal person on the street has been clinging to the hope that it would finally hit bottom and stabilize, but by the time the dollar hit ISK 115 yesterday this just stopped being funny. Most of us still don’t know what has hit us. HVAÐ ER Í GANGI? [what is going on??] is a phrase you hear frequently these days, in between ER EKKI HÆGT AÐ GERA EITTHVAÐ?? [can’t somebody do something??] – referring to the free fall of our currency.
To many of us, the government has appeared completely and utterly lame in all this. It’s like they’re just sitting around, gobsmacked like the rest of the nation, uncertain of how what action to take. That said, perhaps they have been working behind the scenes … rumour has it that they will today make an announcement concerning their efforts in securing a foreign-currency loan, which presumably will allow the króna to stabilize. [Don’t ask me how it works.] We can only hope.
Parliament reconvened last night after the summer recess and for the first time ever I actually sat riveted in front of the TV listening to the MPs’ opening speeches, which were broadcast live. It was pretty intense. Everyone is completely aware of how grave the situation is, and yet the speeches were incredibly galvanizing and the general tone was one of optimism and “we will get through this.” The fundamentals of our economy are strong, they say – the fishing industry, tourism, aluminium production *cringe* [surprisingly, no mention was made of the financial services sector this time around, ahem]. Yes, there was some blame being tossed around but much less than usual, the prevailing sentiment being that the nation and different political parties must now stand and work together. It was repeatedly pointed out that one of the major strengths of the Icelandic nation is that when crisis hits, we set aside our differences and stick together. I’ve witnessed this on countless occasions and been just as inspired and moved each time.
Meanwhile, doomsday predictions are rife – that Iceland will soon face an oil shortage, even that normal commodities like food will run dry, simply because our foreign currency reserves are almost gone so there’s nothing left to pay for imports. YT is refusing to buy into the fearmongering … if there was ever a time to stay focused in the present, this would be it.
Unsurprisingly this crisis has reawakened the discussion of whether Iceland should join the European Union. YT has been opposed to the notion so far, but must say that it is looking more and more attractive all the time. A subject for another post, perhaps.
WINTER IS HERE
It started to snow last night and I woke up to the sound of people scraping ice off their cars outside. The ground was completely white this morning and looks very beautiful, what with the sunshine we have at present. The leaves on my neighbours’ bushes are still green and look very incongruous with the snow on them. It’s set to warm up again this weekend, right now it’s 0°C [34F], sunrise this morning was at 7.43 and sunset is due for 6.48 this evening.