Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Another day, another krona
The market opened today finally in Reykjavik and it was a road runner moment....down 77%. In the Hekla auto showroom, the nation's largest, not a car to be seen. The Central Bank lowered interest rates, it's so called policy rate from 15.5 to 12%. That should give a boost to the currency which still isn't being traded except under unusual circumstance. I read that income taxes will likely be raised. The young lady to the right is in the country's famous Blue Lagoon, a giant hot spring.The vapor over her head is the Icelandic Krona evaporating. I have been scouring the internet for online communique's from the beautiful country and some of the posts are almost heartrending even amid the banking delamination. Icelandonline and http://reykjavikharbor.blogspot.com/ are two samples of what is really going on away from the national media. As you would expect, folks are pretty sore but as befits a country of stoic sturdy souls, no one is in a panic. The poor folks who took out car and house mortgages in Euros because the interest rates were lower are looking at huge resets on their payments and barring a miracle, many expect to lose their homes and cars. Many have lost all their savings. Their prime minister on TV seems stolid and calm, a far cry from the jerky A.D.D spectacle of bush every time he steps up to the mike. ECS, a blogger in Reykjavik of course voices the common metaphor of Iceland being a canary in a coal mine, showing the rest of the world its possible future. It does look like Hungary, Ukraine and some of the former Soviet Republics may be facing a similar fate. The S&P is down 6.5% as I speak and oil is off as well which means we can now go out and fire up our Hummer again for a trip to the convenience mart for a pack of Camels. The bad news is that we just moved up Peak Oil a little closer. I have faith that the Icelanders will get through this. I don't have the same faith in my countrymen.