May 16th 2014


Iceland's spectacular economic crash and the bumpy road of recovery.
Thóra Arnórsdóttir, News Editor & Icelandic Candidate for the Presidential Elections 2012

On Tuesday, May 13, the Great Hall at the MCI filled at midday for a highly promising talk to be given by Thóra Arnórsdóttir, who was one of the candidates for the office of President in Iceland.

In an etremely lively presentation, the former journalist and candidate for the Iceland presidency described the time of the country’s economic crisis and its causes. The talk offered exciting insights into an interesting culture that many Europeans still know relatively little about.

Until the middle of the 20th century, Iceland was one of Europe’s poorest countries. It was not until after the 2nd World War that things improved and the island state took advantage of the opportunities presented to develop an independent and flourishing economy.

After the “incredibly spectacular crash” in 2008, many people asked themselves how it could all have happened, i.e. how such a small country could have amassed so much wealth in such a short period of time and how it could lose it again so quickly.

The speaker spoke of cultural and historical factors as the main causes and said, “We do not have the genes for international business.” According to Thóra Arnórsdóttir, an exaggerated selfconfidence and an unwillingness to listen to advice from experienced businesspeople from abroad also played a role in the development of the crisis and the bursting of the bubble.

“We are ready to look forward.”

The Big Bang is now a thing of the past, and the speaker said Iceland should seize the opportunity for a new start. Despite the past difficulties, she sees positive perspectives for the future of her home country, with the next generation called upon to move forward in cooperation with the country’s policymakers.

Among much else, Thóra Arnórsdóttir’s optimism for the future is based on the country’s natural resources like green energy, fisheries and unspoiled natural scenery, which attracts about a million tourists to the island every year. “Icelandic people are more entrepreneurial than in other countries,” says the successful businesswoman and mother of several children. She also thinks their strong roots in their home country are an important factor: Almost 90 percent of the Icelanders who leave their country for reasons of education, etc. return to the island.

In the subsequent discussion, the visitors were given even deeper insights into the Icelandic mentality and a country that will doubtless continue to have a mystical attraction for many of us.

The impressive event was chaired by Dr. Andreas Altmann as Rector of the MCI.