Back in October, Harper’s published a feature from writer Rebecca Solnit called "News from nowhere: Iceland’s polite dystopia." The article’s focus was effectively that in a country where pretty much everyone is the same (in fact, almost all related), nothing was really going on. Some disputes about the country’s heart and soul, and various existential ennui; but not much change.
What a difference a month or two makes – now Iceland is all drama all the time, according to a dispatch in today’s Wall Street Journal about the collapse of the country’s coalition government:
Iceland becomes the second European nation to lose its government in the global crisis — Belgium’s resigned last month after a scandal involving aid to a fallen bank. It is perhaps the world’s hardest hit: Last fall, three big banks — virtually the entire banking system — collapsed, and the island’s currency went into freefall.
The twin currency and banking crises have caused a startlingly swift reversal of fortune for Icelanders, per capita once one of the world’s wealthiest people. Today, inflation and unemployment are soaring, debt is mounting and the banking sector that provided cushy jobs and fueled a consumption boom has vanished.
It’s funny how fortunes turn.