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By: Dr. Mike Campbell Iceland was hard hit by the financial crisis. The Icelandic banks had cumulative debts totalling six times the nation’s GDP in the autumn of 2008 and, in the gathering financial storm, no means of refinancing the debt. The three major Icelandic banks collapsed within days of one another in October 2008 and the ensuing political crisis brought down the government.

The Icelandic authorities were unable to guarantee the investments of British and Dutch savers and so the British and Dutch governments stepped in to underwrite the debt, totalling some €4 billion, when the Icesave bank went bust. Icesave was the foreign arm of the Lansbanki bank and had attracted 400000 savers in the Netherlands and Britain. Whilst the British and Dutch governments stepped in to the breech, it was always understood that the Icelandic authorities would pick up the pieces.

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A deal to repay the funds was put together by parliament, but was vetoed by the Icelandic president, triggering a referendum that the government lost. A second deal was put together, but again, the Icelandic people have rejected it (this weekend) on the grounds that they should not be asked to pay for a private bank’s debts. The margin was 61% to 49% and it is highly unlikely that it will be put to the people a third time.

This leaves the British and Dutch governments with little option other than taking Iceland to court to recover the money. Iceland is keen to join the EU and both Britain and the Netherlands have the power to veto accession. Iceland will need to resolve the matter before it is able to fully access financial markets to fund its borrowing needs – the will of the people notwithstanding.

http://www.dailyforex.com/forex-fundamental-analysis/2011/04/Icelandic-Referendum-Invites-Dutch-and-British-Court-Action/7663

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