The Iceland Bubble

Michael Lewis has a great Vanity Fair article on the Icelandic Banking Bubble. It is good analysis and good sociology and fun to read. I was looking for something in particular, and I think I found it:

You didn’t need to be Icelandic to join the cult of the Icelandic banker. German banks put $21 billion into Icelandic banks. The Netherlands gave them $305 million, and Sweden kicked in $400 million. U.K. investors, lured by the eye-popping 14 percent annual returns, forked over $30 billion—$28 billion from companies and individuals and the rest from pension funds, hospitals, universities, and other public institutions. Oxford University alone lost $50 million.

I suspect this bubble was not a disaster for Iceland at all, any more than the investment banking bubble was a disaster for Wall Street. It looks as if Iceland sucked in, or perhaps I should say suckered in, billions of foreign dollars, spent a lot of it on cars and houses, and gambled away the rest. The result: a lot of rich Icelanders, a few bankrupt banks, and a lot of foreigners who are poorer but probably not wiser.

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