Iceland's Voters Get Final Say on Repaying British, Dutch Depositor Debt
By Omar R. Valdimarsson - Feb 20, 2011 6:01 PM CT
Iceland’s President Olafur R. Grimsson will give his country’s voters the final say on repaying about $5 billion in debts owed to the U.K. and the Netherlands to cover depositor claims. (Of course, the vast majority of the Icelanders claim that since they did no borrowing, they have nothing to "repay". jl) The text of Grimsson's address.
Grimsson’s announcement yesterday that he won’t sign a depositor accord struck between the three countries’ governments in December follows lawmaker approval of the bill. He told reporters he was responding to popular demand for a referendum after more than 42,000 of Iceland’s 318,000 inhabitants signed a petition asking him to block the accord. Forty-four of the Reykjavik-based parliament’s 63 lawmakers voted for the bill on Feb. 16.
“There is support for the view that the people should once again, as before, act together with the parliament as the legislator in this matter,” Grimsson said.
Yesterday’s announcement marks the second time Grimsson has rejected an agreement designed to compensate the U.K. and Netherlands for depositor losses stemming from the October 2008 failure of Landsbanki Islands hf. His Jan. 5, 2010, refusal to sign a prior accord promptedFitch Ratings to cut Iceland’s credit grade to junk. Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s give Iceland’s debt the lowest investment grade.
Grimsson’s decision threatens to sour relations with the U.K. and Netherlands after Iceland’s government persuaded the two countries to negotiate a new deal following last year’s rejection of the previous accord.
“We have taken note of the decision, negotiations are over and an initialled agreement is on the table,” Niels Redeker, a spokesman at the Dutch Finance Ministry, said by phone yesterday. “We expect the Icelandic government to consider the new situation and to contact us about what will follow.”
The U.K. Treasury said it also has “noted” Grimsson’s decision to block the latest agreement and that it looks forward to “clarification of the Icelandic position in the coming days,” in an e-mailed statement.
The latest so-called Icesave accord, named after the high- yielding accounts offered by Landsbanki, would cost the state about 47 billion kronur ($404 million), while the remaining debt will be covered using the proceeds of Landsbanki assets, the negotiating committee representing Iceland said in December. The British and Dutch governments bore the initial cost of backing the depositor claims.
Though the December Icesave accord is “significantly improved,” it still carries “significant risk,” according to Valdimar Armann, an economist at Reykjavik-based asset manager GAMMA. A slide in the krona, currently shielded by capital controls, could as much as triple the final cost, he estimates. moreGrimsson
Of course, the folks in places like Brazil have been dealing with the absurdly evil clowns at IMF for a long time. Lula da Silva stood up to IMF so naturally, Brazil has one of the better performing economies on earth and he left office with over an 80% popularity rating.
Capitalism is dead says former Brazil president
Brazil's first working class president argues that the global financial crisis disproves foundations of capitalism
BY RUKMINI CALLIMACHI, ASSOCIATED PRESS, MONDAY, FEB 7, 2011 13:21 ET
Brazil's first working class president and an icon of the downtrodden said Monday that the global financial crisis proves capitalism is broken.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also said it was time for affluent countries to begin paying attention to nations like Senegal, ranked as one of the world's poorest.
"For too long, rich countries saw us as peripheral, problematic, even dangerous," said Silva, who stepped down last year with one of the highest approval ratings in his country's history, "Today we are an essential, undeniable part of the solution to the biggest crisis of the last decade -- a crisis that was not created by us, but that emerged from the great centers of world capitalism."
His speech marked the second day of the six-day World Social Forum, an annual counterpunch to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
While the latter draws CEOs who sleep in four-star hotels and take turns on the Swiss slopes, the participants in the World Social Forum are happy to camp on the sides of roads or sleep with locals in order to take part in the yearly anti-capitalist gathering.
Instead of suits, they arrive wearing tie-die shirts and trousers of organic cotton, like Lula who addressed the cheering crowd in a short-sleeved shirt. Presentations are frequently ad lib, including a fiery impromptu speech by Bolivian President Evo Morales on Sunday who told the assembled crowd that capitalism was in its death throes.
"We can see it with the global financial crisis. We can see it with climate change and global warming," said Morales, who in 2005 became the first leader to be elected from Bolivia's indigenous majority. "The capitalism of today is a capitalism that no longer produces but just consumes." moreSo will anyone in USA finally stand up to the crooks? Well, apparently that is why god invented cheeseheads. I WILL write about the standoff in Madison soon, but this will have to do as a reminder that I am paying attention.
Day 6 in Wisconsin
By PAUL BUHLE February 21, 2011
Among the wonderfully silliest manifestations of solidarity in the Wisconsin Capitol Rotunda today was a brief troupe of four blow-up raindeer, 8 feet high, with a sign, WHITE TAILS FOR WORKERS. The issues of the deer populations never leave Wisconsin politics for a day. One of my favorite signs amounted to only four letters: BEER CHEESE BRATS UNIONS. We have them, we love them, we don't intend to lose them.
For the historical-minded, the cheer that rang out the loudest in the beautiful capitol occupied by Robert F. LaFollette as governor almost a century ago was also among the most meaningful. To "WHOSE HOUSE?" We ten thousand answered back in unison, "OUR HOUSE!" We had taken it back from the usurpers, if only for a few hours.
The flashing of 1960s-era peace signs, two fingers apart and aloft, seemed to signal something else in Wisconsin history, a continuity that was more subtle than easily expressed aloud. These were the biggest Madison crowds since 1970, invasion of Cambodia, and the Kent State/Jackson State murders. Many graying figures on the scene this week had never left town—or like me, come back for retirement after a career elsewhere—and relived those youthful days in some measure. More then relived, which would be impossible in any case; re-animated, revised, the meanings placed into context. It didn't hurt to have "Vietnam Vet for Workers' Rights" signs scattered around, either. We were all together now.
The V also recalled the solidarity of the Second World War, the only US war since the Civil War (where Wisconsin volunteers figured among the heaviest casualties) and definitely not including those other unpopular ones, including the Iraq invasion that sent voters into the booth for Obama.
"What Would Bob Do Now?" more of those LaFollette legacies revived, meant more as the days wore on. LaFollette, denouncing the warmakers and profiteers but also the out-of-state bankers Wall Streeters, brought down upon himself a Midwest-style hail of criticism (changing metaphors: they gave him a crown of thorns). More than half the University of Wisconsin faculty signed a petition demanding his removal from the Senate, for the crime of voting against US entry into the First World War. He lost the Republican middle class support that he placed him, as "clean hands" reformer, into the governorship, but he gained in place of these voters the support of workers and farmers, retaining it through the presidential campaign of 1924 (he finished first in Wisconsin) and his death from exhaustion not long after. more