Three years after Iceland’s banks collapsed and the country teetered on the brink, its economy is recovering, proof that governments should let failing lenders go bust and protect taxpayers, analysts say.
The North Atlantic island saw its three biggest banks go belly-up in the October 2008 as its overstretched financial sector collapsed under the weight of the global crisis sparked by the crash of US investment giant Lehman Brothers.
The banks became insolvent within a matter of weeks and Reykjavik was forced to let them fail and seek a $2.25 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund.
After three years of harsh austerity measures, the country’s economy is now showing signs of health despite the current global financial and economic crisis that has Greece verging on default and other eurozone states under pressure.
“The lesson that could be learned from Iceland’s way of handling its crisis is that it is important to shield taxpayers and government finances from bearing the cost of a financial crisis to the extent possible,” Islandsbanki analyst Jon Bjarki Bentsson told AFP.
“Even if our way of dealing with the crisis was not by choice but due to the inability of the government to support the banks back in 2008 due to their size relative to the economy, this has turned out relatively well for us,” Bentsson said.
Iceland’s banking sector had assets worth 11 times the country’s total gross domestic product (GDP) at their peak.