It's OK! Don't start sweating yet. We can get through this. I know, I know. I'm worried too.
The series is now called BRAIN FOOD! Look for the walnut.
What you will not get from Meltdown Iceland: lore about Icelandic society and customs, loin-stirring descriptions of the island's natural beauty or a concrete sense of how Iceland's near-bankruptcy affected the average person.
What you will get from Meltdown Iceland: a better sense of why and how the global economic meltdown happened. Most everything that led to Iceland's economic downfall are small-scale examples of what happened globally (particularly in the United States). For example:
- Ridiculous loan terms (no money down? no assessment of qualification?)
- A willingness to take on debt (both by the average person and corporations)
- The rise of a banking class that was allowed to operate almost autonomously from the government
- The lack of an empowered watchdog
- A desire to accelerate industrialization and progress, even without the backing of native capital or natural resources. The mindset that such progress is deserved, even if forged in smoke and mirrors.
- Use of dated economic policies (Thatcherism=deregulation, privatization)
How accessible is the book?: Medium. It sure made me wish I'd retained something anything from my first year economics class. Stuff like: what is the correlation between inflation and rising interest rates?
Key take away: Iceland's financial meltdown was partially caused by the incestuous nature of its financial/governmental pool and a tolerance for a boom/bust rhythm (the super trendy-cool Iceland of yore was nothing but an economic bubble pushed to the max). It was also a global equivalent of a canary that pointed to the dangers of tolerating high levels of debt and a lack of regulation.
Fun fact: Did you know that Iceland's current prime minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, is the first openly gay head of state in the world? Nice.
Meltdown Iceland/ Rogers Boyes / Bloomsbury US / PB, 2010