Skip

No Terrorists Here
November 10, 2008 5:21 PM   Subscribe

Hundreds of Icelanders make postcards to assure British PM Gordon Brown that they're not terrorists.
posted by hermitosis (77 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ah, terrorism--is there anything it can't do?*

* To make the rich richer.
posted by maxwelton at 5:31 PM on November 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is awesome.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:36 PM on November 10, 2008


We all know it's the Dutch we need to worry about.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:39 PM on November 10, 2008


Iceland should simply seize British deposits worth the same amount if possible, plus lobbing other national banks to divest of pounds. I don't see why anyone should trust British assets while they are behaving like a spoiled child.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:42 PM on November 10, 2008


It worked for Omar.
posted by gman at 5:49 PM on November 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


A Treasury spokesman said the government did not consider Iceland or its banks as terror regimes.
He told BBC News: "The government froze the assets of Landsbanki in the UK as a precautionary measure to ensure UK creditors are treated fairly.
"The order was made under a power contained in the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, however it was not taken on the basis of the anti-terrorism provisions in the Act.
"The Act includes a broad range of provisions and is not only about countering terrorism."
He rejected the assertion that Iceland's economic problems had been worsened by the UK government's actions.
He added: "We have to be clear that the difficulties began in Iceland and were the result of failures of Icelandic banks and our actions followed that.
Source:
Icelandic anger at UK terror move
Suck it up, you thieving knitwear-bedecked bastards.
posted by Abiezer at 5:56 PM on November 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


They should send Bjork to threaten to sing to Gordon Brown until he relents.

Seriously, quite the dick move, UK.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 6:02 PM on November 10, 2008


“I must admit that I was absolutely appalled,” the Icelandic foreign minister, Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir, said in an interview, describing her horror at opening the British treasury department’s home page at the time and finding Iceland on a list of terrorist entities with Al Qaeda, Sudan and North Korea, among others.

I've been saying this for years, but its about time the EU asks the UK to decide if they are in or out.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 6:08 PM on November 10, 2008


How many shares of Icelandic banks were owned by UK citizens before Iceland nationalized them?
posted by b1tr0t at 6:11 PM on November 10, 2008



I've been saying this for years, but its about time the EU asks the UK to decide if they are in or out.


What has the EU got to do with this? Iceland isn't even a member.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 6:11 PM on November 10, 2008


Iceland: An Apology.
I may have, in an earlier posting to the Internet's website of record, MetaFilter, left readers with the impression that I consider smiling kiddy-winks such as this to be "thieving knitwear bedecked bastards." I now acknowledge that a) some of you are wearing fleece; b) Gordon Brown is quite the cock; and c) there's two sides to every story and I'm sure a better outcome could have been achieved through full and frank negotiations even if you did start it all by nicking our money.
P.S. Any chance of my gran's life savings back?
posted by Abiezer at 6:19 PM on November 10, 2008


Indeed it is not a member, even if the article suggests they are bound by unspecified European regulations. What brings me to this opinion is the UK's insistence in behaving like a state of the USA, from the war in Iraq to actually racing them to the bottom of the barrel of TERROR abuse.

From the article:

A lot of Icelanders are asking, ‘Excuse me: who’s the terrorist here?’ ”

Oh, like we hadn't figured that one out already.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 6:24 PM on November 10, 2008


Nice. Why does the word "darling" appear in so many of them?
posted by jamesonandwater at 6:26 PM on November 10, 2008


This just in. The Icelanders may not be terrorists but the Greenlanders now have a nuke:

BBC News reports that the U.S. Military abandoned a nuclear weapon (serial number 78252) as lost somewhere in the ice after the January 21, 1968 crash of a Chrome Dome mission outside Thule Air Base, Greenland (BBC News)

On topic, I love the bumblebee petting postcard.

And it's a disgusting outrage the Brit gov did this to Iceland!!!

Why does the word "darling" appear in so many of them?

Alastair Darling.
posted by nickyskye at 6:30 PM on November 10, 2008


You know who else denied being a terrorist?

I mean that's how you know they're terrorists - when they deny being a terrorist.

But I'm shocked (shocked) that anti-terrorism laws passed in panic and fear would be used unilaterally and not strictly in curtailing terrorism.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:33 PM on November 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


I can't wait for the day where all appalling or offensive acts will be met with ridiculous and overwhelming responses in some seemingly-frivolous form. And they work.

maybe that era starts now?
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 6:34 PM on November 10, 2008


I think that Abiezer put it nicely. To refer to thieves as terrorists is a little OTT. Sorry about that. As the first sentence of the article states: No one disputes that Iceland’s economic troubles are largely the country’s own fault.
posted by ob at 6:35 PM on November 10, 2008


from the war in Iraq to actually racing them to the bottom of the barrel of TERROR abuse.
I should have probably left out the lame jokes, as my point in posting the BBC article above was that the UK government's contention is that this was not a use of anti-terrorist legislation; the provisions used were part of a portmanteau bill that also contained anti-terror measures but these weren't the provisions employed.
I think the Icelandic official made the best point when they said that as friendly nations, the two sides could have been expected to sit down and talk it through properly first; no doubt the UK government saw the Icelandic moves as precipitate and reacted primarily with an eye to their domestic standing, but perhaps that could have been avoided if they'd been in the loop before Iceland acted so it cuts both ways.
posted by Abiezer at 6:40 PM on November 10, 2008


The NYT article completely fails to mention that a large number of ordinary non-rich British citizens had been encouraged to deposit their life savings with IceSave, an internet-based subsidiary of Landsbanki, with the understanding the accounts were backed by the Icelandic government. The freezing of assets only happened after the Icelandic government said they'd decided not to pay any of that money back.

So the fuckers, cute as they may be, tried to steal our money. Fuckers.
posted by cillit bang at 6:46 PM on November 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


That said, it's certainly true the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 was rushed through with unholy haste post 9-11 (see point b), so there is something to what the robbing cod-pirates are saying.
posted by Abiezer at 6:50 PM on November 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


What's all this about Britain seizing Icelandic assets?

I always thought the U.S. had dibs on Iceland if anyone did. Iceland is sweet.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:56 PM on November 10, 2008


You're all ignoring the elephant in the room here, people. Gordon Brown obviously hasn't forgiven those conniving icelanders for the Cod Wars. Next the UK will be detaining icelandic fishermen and holding them indefinitely as enemy codbatants.

I'll get my coat
posted by JustAsItSounds at 7:05 PM on November 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Iceland should simply seize British deposits worth the same amount if possible, plus lobbing other national banks to divest of pounds. I don't see why anyone should trust British assets while they are behaving like a spoiled child.

Icelandic banks already lost the British deposits worth much less than the seized amount. That's the bloody problem.
posted by Talez at 7:22 PM on November 10, 2008


Well, I was going to mention the Cod Wars, but then I'd sound like my dad. And I'm already getting to like by father for comfort.
posted by ob at 7:39 PM on November 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


The freezing of assets only happened after the Icelandic government said they'd decided not to pay any of that money back.

So the fuckers, cute as they may be, tried to steal our money. Fuckers.


The Icelandic government didn't decide to not pay the money back; they froze IceSave's assets when it became apparent that the company did not have enough hard cash to cover what had been invested into it, and that a run on IceSave - owned by Landsbanki - would effectively collapse the bank. This is why the Icelandic government stepped in and put the brakes on this thing. And they have never, ever said that they have "decided not to pay the money back" - on the contrary, they have emphasised that it will be paid back. The Icelandic and UK governments are more or less finalizing a deal to get that money back to depositors.

This isn't to say that Iceland's bank manager/rogue traders were innocent victims of a foreign-born economic crisis. They made terrible investment choices. But "take comfort", if you will, in knowing the people hardest hit are the average Icelandic "fuckers" now dealing with skyrocketing inflation; not British investors. The British government's strong-arm tactics do little to quell investor fears and shows some seriously poor form to boot.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:52 PM on November 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


The Treasury may make a freezing order if the following two conditions are satisfied: [...]
  • The first condition is that the Treasury reasonably believe that [...] action to the detriment of the United Kingdom’s economy (or part of it) has been or is likely to be taken by a person [...]
  • The second condition is that the person is [...] the government of [...] or a resident of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom.
Eep.
posted by you at 8:20 PM on November 10, 2008


Poor form¿ Marisa Stole the Precious Thing, bloody hell I'll say.

and With the other side of his face, Gordon Brown called for a progressive multilateralism in which "cooperation, not confrontation, flourishes as an answer to age-old challenges."

"He put forward an ambitious agenda for Obama to pursue: arms reduction; peace in Afghanistan and Iraq; an urgent world trade deal; a climate change agreement by next year; a peace settlement in the Middle East; and a worldwide reflationary strategy to minimise the threat of recession."


How about if you mind your own a minute there cocky, the President has a shit pile of foreclosures and manufacturing gone to hell, wrought by your buddy Bush the past 8 years to deal with, before he has a minute for ya. K¿

The bloody cheek.


Loved those postcards to Brownie. Brill./
posted by alicesshoe at 8:20 PM on November 10, 2008


According to the NYT article it doesn't sound like Iceland is going to pay back Icesave depositors.

Under European regulations, Iceland is obliged to pay 20,000 euros (about $25,000) to each individual account holder in Icesave. But the total, Ms. Gisladottir, the foreign minister, said, would amount to about 600 billion Icelandic kronur — only about $5 billion at today’s collapsed exchange rate but fully 60 percent of Iceland’s gross domestic product.

“The compensation that we would give would be twice as much per head as the reparations Germany faced in the Treaty of Versailles after the First World War,” she said. “That is something we cannot afford.”

posted by Wood at 8:31 PM on November 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


According to the NYT article it doesn't sound like Iceland is going to pay back Icesave depositors.

No, it's saying Iceland can't afford it. As strange as it sounds, the UK government is lending Landsbanki money, in part in order to pay back British investors. Iceland is also asking for and/or receiving loans from many other countries, including Russia, Japan and the Netherlands.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:39 PM on November 10, 2008


well, iceland, where is your cod now?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:46 PM on November 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Marisa, the New York Times quotes Alistair Darling as saying “The Icelandic government, believe it or not, told me yesterday that they have no intention of honoring their obligations here” I don't know if Darling was lying or the NYT is misquoting but such a miscommunication should have come to light fairly quickly, if it were a miscommunication. Everything I've read points to it having been fact; it is difficult to imagine such drastic action being taken without an attempt to fix things.

Is there an English language press release from the Icelandic government that would bring their stance more in line with your post? Not here.The Icelandic language site has more press releases but all of the translations I checked don't do a very good job; what I've been able to read (after digital translation) hasn't been coherent or pertinent enough.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 8:48 PM on November 10, 2008


I don't know if Darling was lying or the NYT is misquoting but such a miscommunication should have come to light fairly quickly, if it were a miscommunication.

I don't know if Darling meant something along the lines of "They told me they can't pay us back right now", or was simply using strong language to make a point, but the Icelandic government has been repeatedly saying it intends to pay back investors for at least the past month now. It's not going to happen overnight, no, but it will happen.

I guess this gets under my skin because while the British government is throwing its weight around, and there've been some probably well-meaning little jokes here about Bjork and cod or whatever, the people being left out of this discussion are the Icelanders themselves, who now have to deal with staggering inflation, increasing joblessness and a smeared global image because of a combination of the poor business decisions of a few bank managers, and an apathetic government that sat back and did nothing as the economy overheated. In short, Britain isn't helping and neither is making light of the real suffering of real people who weren't even playing the investment game.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:58 PM on November 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Icelandic government has pledged to make good on domestic bank accounts. But it is still fighting with Britain over how much it is obliged to pay — and how much it can afford to pay — to compensate customers with accounts in Icesave, Landsbanki’s British branch.

That doesn't sound like emphasizing that the money will be paid back. Indeed it doesn't sound anything like that. Whether or no Iceland can afford it is another thing and worthy of consideration. However, the fact remains that from what I've read the Icelandic government decided that they wouldn't honor the full amount of accounts held by foreigners.

And it isn't just individual account holders, it's charities, universities etc:

The British government has guaranteed that individual British account holders will be compensated fully, which is why it is seeking to wrest as much money as possible from Iceland. But no such guarantees have been made to the British companies, local governments, charities and universities — including Oxford and Cambridge — that had Icesave accounts. That figure alone is well over a billion dollars.


So it seems that the British government can't even guarantee that money.

I absolutely take the point that the Icelandic people will suffer for this and that's terrible. I'm sorry for that. Some of it is the fault of the British government, that's absolutely true but much of it is the fault of the Icelandic government and the banks that totally overextended themselves without a thought of what to do if it all went wrong.
posted by ob at 9:19 PM on November 10, 2008


I guess this gets under my skin because while the British government is throwing its weight around, and there've been some probably well-meaning little jokes here about Bjork and cod or whatever, the people being left out of this discussion are the Icelanders themselves, who now have to deal with staggering inflation, increasing joblessness and a smeared global image because of a combination of the poor business decisions of a few bank managers, and an apathetic government that sat back and did nothing as the economy overheated.

Oh the poor, innocent Icelanders... Oh wait...

Iceland’s households also racked up debts amounting to 213% of disposable income. Britons and Americans owed just 169% and 140% of disposable income respectively—figures that make them seem almost sober by comparison.

So they were perfectly happy to borrow gobs and gobs of money on easy credit. And the government that sat back and did nothing? Interest rates were raised from 2.80% to 12.75% and what did the Icelandic people do? They went and borrowed the money from foreign markets at lower interest rates anyway.

If borrowing huge amounts of money weren't enough they borrowed it against an obviously overvalued currency. If that isn't the definition of financially retarded I don't know what is.
posted by Talez at 9:30 PM on November 10, 2008


Some of it is the fault of the British government, that's absolutely true but much of it is the fault of the Icelandic government and the banks that totally overextended themselves without a thought of what to do if it all went wrong.

I've never contended it's the fault of anyone but the Icelandic bank managers and a complicit conservative majority in the Icelandic government. And right now, priority number one is getting their own economy in order. There are factions within the Icelandic government - even within the ruling coalition - clamouring for an express route into the EU. The crown is highly unstable, immigrants who'd arrived only last year are going back to Poland, food prices (and the bulk of Iceland's food is imported) are soaring. Stabilizing the Icelandic economy is the government's first job right now. Anyone should be able to appreciate this and exercise a little patience in this regard, and that's why the loans are coming in. Once the dust has settled, it'll be much easier to pay back British investors.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:31 PM on November 10, 2008


Oh the poor, innocent Icelanders...

Talez, do understand that the same people you're mocking here were fully reassured by their bank managers that their money was in good, wise, stable hands. You're talking about working families here. Do try and see the difference between the wildly risk-taking bank managers who lied to their depositors and the people who trusted them.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:34 PM on November 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


the Icelandic government has been repeatedly saying it intends to pay back investors for at least the past month now.

No, the British government has said it will reimburse savers in full. The Icelandic government has said it will pay what it can, with no promises. Hence no one should be surprised about the British government taking the opportunity to seize what Icelandic assets it could.
posted by cillit bang at 9:42 PM on November 10, 2008


I've never contended it's the fault of anyone but the Icelandic bank managers and a complicit conservative majority in the Icelandic government.

I didn't claim that you did. What I do think though is that the Icelandic government are protecting their own interests at the moment. Whilst the actions of the British government aren't helping the Icelandic people (and, as I say, for that I'm sorry) and were OTT they amount to the same thing.
posted by ob at 9:44 PM on November 10, 2008


No, the British government has said it will reimburse savers in full.
The British government has promised to reimburse all Icesave customers’ savings in full regardless of if the Icelandic government reneges on its responsibility to insure the first EUR 20,000. The damage that would do to Iceland’s international reputation could be considerable however, and the [Icelandic] PM has reiterated his desire not to go down that route.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:44 PM on November 10, 2008


Icelandic government is
posted by ob at 9:49 PM on November 10, 2008


I appreciate that, ob. I'm going to take a few deep breaths here, now.

There were some horrible business decisions made. It would make absolutely no sense for a country that depends on foreign investment to tell the world, "Yeah, we might lose your money and not pay it back." This is why I believe that while yes, the Icelandic government is focussing on fixing the domestic side of things for now, that investors are going to get their returns. Even then, it'll probably take at least a decade to repair the damage done to the image of the country as a whole. The whole thing just saddens me greatly.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:50 PM on November 10, 2008


Talez, do understand that the same people you're mocking here were fully reassured by their bank managers that their money was in good, wise, stable hands. You're talking about working families here. Do try and see the difference between the wildly risk-taking bank managers who lied to their depositors and the people who trusted them.

If you're talking about UK depositors I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about Icelanders who are crying that they're the victims of speculators from foreign money markets. If I was your doctor and I told you that cheeseburgers and sodas would be the perfect diet to drop those few extra kilos you'd probably look at me like I'd lost my god damn mind.

A little common sense and personal responsibility has to come into play. They can keep blaming the bank managers but the people need to accept the fact that they were the ones who ultimately decided to get themselves up to their eyeballs in debt so insanely obscene even by the exaggerated standards of personal debt set by US households and that borrowing against any currency with an inflation rate approaching double digits is going to mean you paying back twice as much as what you planned.

And don't tell me it wasn't widespread. You don't get to levels of household debt equal to 213% of disposable income by a few people deciding to gorge themselves. There was a systematic abuse of credit by the people at large and they are now paying the price of being complacent towards something that they should have known from the start was wayyyyyy too good to be true.
posted by Talez at 9:55 PM on November 10, 2008


I'm very sympathetic to the case you make MSTPT, but what pushes my buttons with this campaign to scapegoat Brown (a man I hold no brief for politically) is how it smacks of locating the blame safely and squarely overseas when in fact domestic villains loom larger in the story.
posted by Abiezer at 10:01 PM on November 10, 2008


If you're talking about UK depositors I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about Icelanders who are crying that they're the victims of speculators from foreign money markets.

1. Reading is fundamental. I'm not talking about UK depositors; I'm talking about working Icelandic families who trusted their bank managers that their savings were safe, that it was OK to live on credit, and take out ginormous loans.

2. The average Icelander is just as furious at the Icelandic government as the UK investor. No one's buying that "OMG it was the foreigners what did it to us!" line anymore. Just last weekend there was a protest demonstration at the house of parliament that saw people climb on the roof, throwing eggs at the building, and fighting with police.

Should the average Icelander have known better? Perhaps, but normally people trust their banks as being stable places to do business with, and take their advice as sound. Once bitten, twice shy.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:08 PM on November 10, 2008


Aw Marisa, all the cute kiddie winkies from the Icelandic working families, aren't they darling? And the nerve of those evil mean British investors are so indignant as to want their life savings back in a timely manner. Using their goshdarned "laws" to stop the non-terrorist government scarpering with their money to prop up what's left of their economy. You're so right when you say it would make no sense for the Icelandic officials to cast doubt on their plans to repay, so why shouldn't you completely disregard news reports of them doing exactly that? Heartbreaking, just heartbreaking.
posted by cillit bang at 10:29 PM on November 10, 2008


Aw Marisa, all the cute kiddie winkies from the Icelandic working families, aren't they darling?

This helps.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:31 PM on November 10, 2008


I have sympathy for the Icelanders. I just think this terrorist thing is lame and unserious. The UK now has a special non-terrorist spot for Landsbanki. Everyone knows that Icelanders aren't terrorists. Now what? This postcard thing hardly addresses any of the real issues at hand. It's a distraction from the fact that Iceland is going bankrupt.
posted by Wood at 11:22 PM on November 10, 2008


A few official links (I don't have time to put together a coherent narrative post, but these might be interesting, especially the second one):

HM Treasury (UK) page on Icelandic banks

Voluntary memo from HM Treasury to Committee on Statutory Instruments, explaining their reasons for the Landsbanki Freezing Order (PDF, go to page 13)

UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme page on Icesave.

Financial Supervisory Authority (Iceland) statement on Landsbanki (in English; there's more on that site)

Depositors’ and Investors’ Guarantee Fund (Iceland, in English)
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:12 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have sympathy for the Icelanders.

I'd also like to emphasize that I have sympathy for the British investors. I'd be pretty angry, too. But I try to look at it this way: say a guy who's made some bad financial decisions is down to his last $200. He owes you almost all of that. He's trying to get his act together, he's got a family to take care of, and has said he's going to try and get the money to you when he can. Other people have offered to cover for him, too. Do you have the right to say, "No, screw you, pay me now. Right now."? Sure, technically, you do. But come on.

I'm the last person who'd defend the Icelandic conservatives. For years they ignored warnings from many different financial experts that the economy was overheating. Bank managers were engaged in risky investments while lying to their depositors, in Iceland and abroad. There's evidence appearing that IceSave concealed their problems from the government until it was too late. But as last weekend's protests indicate, the Icelanders are pretty damn angry, too. Four thousand people showed up for that protest. The proportional equivalent in America would be a little over 4 million showing up at the steps of Congress to protest their anger over the financial crisis. There are people in parliament who are calling for an emergency election. If such a thing happened, you can believe the conservatives would be unseated.

All I'm trying to provide here is some perspective, lest there persist the idea that Icelanders are kicking back, lighting cigars with 50 pound notes and laughing at Britain. Everyone is angry at the Icelandic government.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:50 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


The British government has promised to reimburse all Icesave customers’ savings in full regardless of if the Icelandic government reneges on its responsibility to insure the first EUR 20,000. The damage that would do to Iceland’s international reputation could be considerable however, and the [Icelandic] PM has reiterated his desire not to go down that route.

You know, that does not say that Iceland will insure the first EUR 20,000. At all.

I fail to see how Icelanders can have any complaints about British assets being frozen when so much money has been lost by British investors in Icelandic banks. I'm a taxpayer, and I'm pretty sure my local council has lost hundreds of thousands, if not millions - money that it will not get back. I'm livid about the money that charities have lost. So excuse me if I don't shed a tear for poor innocent Icelandic families who went mad spending on credit.
posted by salmacis at 2:40 AM on November 11, 2008


You have to admire the spin job the Icelanders have done; not only focussing attention on the 'terrorist' issue, but framing the thing in terms of the Icelandic people versus the unlovely Gordon Brown, rather than the equally unlovely Icelandic Government versus Abiezer's granny and her heating bills. To add to 'too big to fail', we now have 'too small to blame'.

The general debacle surely raises questions about whether there should be limits on what micro-nations can do. They tend to want it both ways, and I suspect that part of the problem here was an Icelandic expectation that they enjoyed complete freedom of action to run financial risks of their own choosing while still having an implict guarantee from their Scandinavian friends and other bigger nations that nothing really bad would be allowed to happen to them.
posted by Phanx at 2:40 AM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Iceland has an enormous amount of energy and a very small population, they are in the process of completing a vast hydro electric scheme.

The plan is to use the electricity to smelt aluminum. I say no, use the electricity to extract hydrogen from the sea. Then sell the hydrogen around the planet to create water and energy, where ever it is needed.

Transport the hydrogen around the planet in vast balloons towed by normal ships.

Australia is suffering from a drought, they all ready have lots of oxygen, just take them some hydrogen - viola, they would have water. The Aussies would give badly needed foreign currency to Iceland, with which it can get itself out of debt.
posted by dollyknot at 2:51 AM on November 11, 2008


Hmm. I guess entrusting your savings to Vikings is not the best investment strategy after all. What next, first Barbary Pirate Savings and Loan?
posted by moonbiter at 2:56 AM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


The plan is to use the electricity to smelt aluminum. I say no, use the electricity to extract hydrogen from the sea. Then sell the hydrogen around the planet to create water and energy, where ever it is needed.

And would that benefit the Icelandic economy more than providing electricity for aluminium smelting?

I try to look at it this way: say a guy who's made some bad financial decisions is down to his last $200. He owes you almost all of that. He's trying to get his act together, he's got a family to take care of, and has said he's going to try and get the money to you when he can. Other people have offered to cover for him, too. Do you have the right to say, "No, screw you, pay me now. Right now."? Sure, technically, you do. But come on.

That depends. Do you have the right if you need the $200 to take care of your family and pay your rent just as much as he does? the difference being that its your money.
posted by biffa at 3:03 AM on November 11, 2008


The plan is to use the electricity to smelt aluminum. I say no, use the electricity to extract hydrogen from the sea. Then sell the hydrogen around the planet to create water and energy, where ever it is needed.

And would that benefit the Icelandic economy more than providing electricity for aluminium smelting?


How do you green a desert with aluminium?

Our gorgeous planet has astronomical amounts of water, the sad irony is for us blundering bipeds is much of it is in the wrong place. It would be far cheaper to ship hydrogen around, than to ship water around, also hydrogen is the fuel of the future.
posted by dollyknot at 3:25 AM on November 11, 2008


How do you green a desert with aluminium?

So your idea is that Iceland should line itself up for reduced economic effectiveness in response to the economic downturn?

hydrogen is the fuel of the future.

Unlikely. Direct use of renewable electricity is more efficient for operating cars, and for anything else that requires storage there are also other options that are more efficient.
posted by biffa at 4:14 AM on November 11, 2008


Also greening the desert will slow global warming, the main ingredients plants use to grow are sun, carbon dioxide and water.

The Sahara desert is larger than Australia, imagine it covered with trees!

Nearly all of the rain in the rain-forest comes from the trees in the first place. Chop down the trees and you end up with a desert with a few wisps of cloud that have blown in from the sea.

The biggest problem in the middle east is not lack of land - it is lack of water, how sad is that when 3/5ths of the earth is covered with water?
posted by dollyknot at 4:31 AM on November 11, 2008


So your idea is that Iceland should line itself up for reduced economic effectiveness in response to the economic downturn?

Don't make me laugh, Iceland has 4/5ths the land area of Britain and has the population of a moderately sized British city. Up until recently Iceland had the highest standard of living in the world, they thought it was okay to make a living from financial instruments, well I got news for you, you can eat cod, but you cannot eat financial instruments.

hydrogen is the fuel of the future.

Unlikely. Direct use of renewable electricity is more efficient for operating cars, and for anything else that requires storage there are also other options that are more efficient.


Well if you have plenty of time, you could edit this wikipedia article out of existence, seeing how you know so much about the subject.
posted by dollyknot at 5:05 AM on November 11, 2008


MSTP "I'd also like to emphasize that I have sympathy for the British investors. I'd be pretty angry, too. But I try to look at it this way: say a guy who's made some bad financial decisions is down to his last $200. He owes you almost all of that. He's trying to get his act together, he's got a family to take care of, and has said he's going to try and get the money to you when he can. Other people have offered to cover for him, too. Do you have the right to say, "No, screw you, pay me now. Right now."? Sure, technically, you do. But come on."

Depends if your down last $10 too, which is a far more apt/realistic example.
posted by fatfrank at 5:26 AM on November 11, 2008


Well if you have plenty of time, you could edit this wikipedia article out of existence, seeing how you know so much about the subject.

Well the article kind of points it out. How do you stick it in a tank? Either under massive pressure or very cold temperature. And as it was pointed out, there's more hydrogen in a litre of gas then there is in a litre of LH2. Then you've got the embrittlement of the metal from the absorption of Hydrogen (in case the massive stress of cryogenic temperatures or high pressure tanks wasn't already enough).

With current technology H2 is a very, very poor energy carrier in a practical sense compared to hydrocarbons or even Li-Ion batteries. I'm sure it'll improve in the future but then again so will battery technology and ICE efficiency and you're really back to square one.
posted by Talez at 5:57 AM on November 11, 2008


Oh and also in that article is the fact that fuel cell cars have a ~25% grid to motor efficiency (unless you happen to be making H2 from methane via steam reformation which is just as bad as burning gasoline) while EV stands about 86%.

It kind of clinches it in favour of EV.
posted by Talez at 6:00 AM on November 11, 2008


I'd also like to emphasize that I have sympathy for the British investors. I'd be pretty angry, too. But I try to look at it this way: say a guy who's made some bad financial decisions is down to his last $200. He owes you almost all of that. He's trying to get his act together, he's got a family to take care of, and has said he's going to try and get the money to you when he can. Other people have offered to cover for him, too. Do you have the right to say, "No, screw you, pay me now. Right now."? Sure, technically, you do. But come on.

The people being screwed in both countries are largely individual savers. Grannies in both countries had their savings invested in what was a standard retail bank to them.

The landsbanki money in britain was the money of british savers, in sterling, in british accounts. The icesave bank shut its doors to UK savers withdrawing their money, while icelandic customers could still get theirs out. So in effect, the icelandic bank was saying that icelandic customers were more important than british customers, that money saved by british people was going to be taken offshore and used to pay back the icelandic customers back first.

The british savers were going to have sit and wait until at some indefinite point in the future, they would get their money back. Well, some of it, anyway. Assuming that the icelandic government was lying when they first said they wouldn't be able to repay the money.

The money frozen in britain was BRITISH SAVERS MONEY. They were entitled to it back, and icesave wasn't going to give it to them.

This isn't about some heartless rich british money men whaling on the poor defenceless icelandic customers as you describe, it's about the icelandic government failing to regulate their banks properly, and at least one icelandic bank trying to screw british savers for the benefit of their icelandic ones.

Now, the press releases from Gordon Clown and Darling were rediculous, and they should be nailed for that. That british anti-terror laws are massively overbroad combination laws used for all sorts of things with nothing to do with terror (see the RIP act for another example), is also well known and worthy of condemnation.

BUT - they did the right thing for brits by saving their money from being withdrawn overseas, while landsbanki tried to skirt out of their obligations under EU law for who knows how long.

I blame entirely the icelandic government and landsbanki for trying to pull a fast one, and have little sympathy when they try to blame the British government for their failing to pull it off. Icelanders should be blaming their government and their banks and their regulators, not the brits for safeguarding what british-owned funds were still in Britain.
posted by ArkhanJG at 6:17 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Those vikings are so damn touchy when someone pillages them back.
posted by srboisvert at 6:48 AM on November 11, 2008


Well the article kind of points it out. How do you stick it in a tank? Either under massive pressure or very cold temperature. And as it was pointed out, there's more hydrogen in a litre of gas then there is in a litre of LH2. Then you've got the embrittlement of the metal from the absorption of Hydrogen (in case the massive stress of cryogenic temperatures or high pressure tanks wasn't already enough).

With current technology H2 is a very, very poor energy carrier in a practical sense compared to hydrocarbons or even Li-Ion batteries. I'm sure it'll improve in the future but then again so will battery technology and ICE efficiency and you're really back to square one.


Yes I am aware of this, but what I am suggesting is moving H2 around in vast balloons, is a cheap way to move water around the planet, the fact that hydrogen is the missing bit for water and a clean energy source (as long as it is created with hydroelectric power) is double benefit.

We could create giant airships powered by hydrogen, not to ferry goods and people about, but in a sense to ferry water about, with GPS you could make them unmanned. When the airship reached its destination, on board compressors could start to compress the hydrogen and the balloon would sink where you wanted it to.
posted by dollyknot at 7:06 AM on November 11, 2008


Well if you have plenty of time, you could edit this wikipedia article out of existence, seeing how you know so much about the subject.

I don't really need to, it already acknowledges many of the problems, and notes that solutions don't yet exist. It would be foolish to assume that at some point they will exist and that there may not be better alternatives, e.g. electric vehicles for transport (80% efficient storage and use for electricity vs 51% efficiency for the electrolysis, storage and use of electricity for hydrogen production and use (See for example, Hammerschlag, R. and P. Mazza (2005). "Questioning Hydrogen." Energy Policy 33(16): 2039-2043). As the article points out hydrogen has been called 'the least efficient and most expensive possible replacement for gasoline (petrol) in terms of reducing greenhouse gases' and that "there are major hurdles on the path to achieving the vision of the hydrogen economy; the path will not be simple or straightforward".
For non-transport uses, storage methods such as flywheels and pumped storage also achieve around 80% efficiency.

In terms of carbon emission reduction then production and use of hydrogen ranks well below simply using the electricity directly to displace energy production from any fossil fuel, effectively meaning you're reducing the environmental benefit of empoying renewable energy in deploying hydrogen based tecnology until renewable energy is at very high levels of penetration.

It may also interest you to know that the cost of the US alone transferring to hydrogen for transport has been estmiated at around $500billion.
posted by biffa at 8:16 AM on November 11, 2008


We all know it's the Dutch we need to worry about.

It's true.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:26 AM on November 11, 2008


It may also interest you to know that the cost of the US alone transferring to hydrogen for transport has been estmiated at around $500billion.

Googling the phrase "hydrogen economy" generates over 300000 hits, admitted not all of them positive, but enough to suggest hydrogen is probably the way forward to sustainability.

Obviously those people in the petrochemical industries will hate the idea, also those people with shares in the petrochemical industries will also hate the idea.

America is getting a president without a vested interest in oil, so maybe things will change.

Iceland is in a mess, but has huge amounts of hydroelectricity coming onstream very soon. I don't think vast quantities of cheap aluminium will do much for the earth's environment, but vast quantities of cheap hydrogen could make all the difference.
posted by dollyknot at 9:25 AM on November 11, 2008


Googling the phrase "sausage dogs" generates over 4,090,000 hits, admitted not all of them positive, but enough to suggest sausages and the dogs who eat them are probably our global environmental saviours.

Honestly, do you really regard google hits as being a solid indicator of future technological development and as meaningfully supporting your argument in any way? if you want to do some proper reading about hydrogen and the barriers, costs and potential of its wider adoption below is the list of references I give to my undergraduate students.

It might surprise you to learn that you don't have to be a petrochemical industry supporter to support looking rationally at the facts about new technologies, you might for example, be very pro-renewable energy and very keen on not providing ammunition for those opposing greater adoption of both renewable energy and more demanding environmental policy.

Iceland is in a mess, but has huge amounts of hydroelectricity coming onstream very soon. I don't think vast quantities of cheap aluminium will do much for the earth's environment, but vast quantities of cheap hydrogen could make all the difference.

Regarding Iceland, it is worth noting that any new hydro development will tend to have been built only with a long term electricity supply contract (in the order of decades) in place with an aluminium smelter, so that the new capacity isn't available for anything but that, at least that's what they told us when we were visited the Icelandic energy ministry for a Q&A a few years ago.

W. W. I. and J. Rifkin (2006). "A Green Hydrogen Economy." Energy Policy 34(17): 2630-2639.
Converse, A. O. (2006). "The Impact of Large-Scale Energy Storage Requirements on the Choice between Electricity and Hydrogen as the Major Energy Carrier in a Non-Fossil Renewables-Only Scenario." Energy Policy 34(18): 3374-3376.
Hammerschlag, R. and P. Mazza (2005). "Questioning Hydrogen." Energy Policy 33(16): 2039-2043.
Hoffman, P. (2001). Tomorrow's Energy: Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and the Prospects for a Cleaner Planet. London, The MIT Press.
Mason, J. E. "World Energy Analysis: H2 now or later?" Energy Policy.
Ramesohl, S. and F. Merten (2006). "Energy system aspects of hydrogen as an alternative fuel in transport." Energy Policy 34(11): 1251-1259.
Romm, J. (2006). "The car and fuel of the future." Energy Policy 34(17): 2609-2614.
Schaber, C., P. Mazza, et al. (2004). "Utility Scale Storage of Renewable Energy." Electricity Journal.
Solomon, B. D. and A. Banerjee (2006). "A global survey of hydrogen energy research, development and policy." Energy Policy 34(7): 781-792
posted by biffa at 10:42 AM on November 11, 2008


I blame entirely the icelandic government and landsbanki for trying to pull a fast one, and have little sympathy when they try to blame the British government for their failing to pull it off. Icelanders should be blaming their government and their banks and their regulators, not the brits for safeguarding what british-owned funds were still in Britain.

As I've been pointing out multiple times, Icelanders blame their government, too. Four thousand Icelanders didn't descend upon parliament, voicing outrage, throwing eggs, and fighting the cops because they think this is all the fault of the British. There aren't political parties calling for an emergency election because they think this is all the fault of the British. They may disagree with what Brown has decided to do, but make no mistake - the average Icelander has placed the blame squarely upon their own government and bank managers.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:53 AM on November 11, 2008


Not terrorists, just awful bankers.
posted by A189Nut at 11:10 AM on November 11, 2008


But "take comfort", if you will, in knowing the people hardest hit are the average Icelandic "fuckers" now dealing with skyrocketing inflation; not British investors.

posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing
Tell that to my kid sister, who put half of the money in Icesave which our mother left her when her house was sold last year after her death. She's out nearly $60,000 and will now definitely not be able to buy a home of her own -- unless the UK government steps up and makes good on the guarantee which Iceland has reneged on.

Boo fucking hoo to 'em, say I.
posted by genghis at 5:10 PM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Nice teamwork Iceland. You're still not on my top 10 list of places to visit but nice work.
posted by If You Ain't Dutch, You Ain't Much at 5:46 AM on November 12, 2008


Iceland’s households also racked up debts amounting to 213% of disposable income.

All of which, judging from my impressions on a recent visit, appears to have been spent on luxury German 4x4 SUV's. I've never seen so many Audi, BMW and Mercedes SUV's in my life, at what, around $100,000 a pop? Borrowing that sort of money for anything other than a mortgage just seems completely insane.

OK, if you're a farmer out in the badlands, I can see you might need a Land Rover or something, but does every family in Rekjavik have to have one as well?

I've never understood how individual Icelanders get to borrow money in foreign markets though. Here in the UK, we'd kill to be able to take out fixed rate mortgages over 20 and 25 years from US financial institutions. Presumably, the reason people don't do it is that you give up what small degree of financial protection you get by opting out in that way? That's if it's even possible. I recall trying to look into it once and getting nowhere -- though I believe the Poles do this as well.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:34 AM on November 12, 2008


OK, if you're a farmer out in the badlands, I can see you might need a Land Rover or something, but does every family in Rekjavik have to have one as well?

If they ever want to go out of the city. Apart from a few tarmaced roads, many roads are dirt tracks, even ones shown in the map as highways, as we found out the hard way trying to drive along the south coast. In an ordinary street car we had to turn around and find a different route after failing to climb a hill. there are plenty of places where the hire car insurance becomes void unless you're in a 4x4, don't know whether this effects domestic drivers the same way.
posted by biffa at 1:28 AM on November 13, 2008


In an ordinary street car we had to turn around and find a different route after failing to climb a hill. there are plenty of places where the hire car insurance becomes void unless you're in a 4x4.

OK, presumably this would be truer in the protracted winter period. I didn't have any trouble, even on those dirt track roads, in the smallest GM Corsa during the summer, but I'd presume that would be very different later in the year. Pretty sure that I recall from the hire car agreements that in some parts of the landscape -- where you're fording streams and stuff -- even the insurance on the hired 4x4 was void.

Doesn't explain why they all need to be BMW's and Mercedes though. We've got landscape like that too. Our farmers tend to use 40 year old Land Rovers to get around it. The idea of thrashing your £60k luxury SUV in such a landscape seems a bit mad to me.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:29 AM on November 16, 2008


How likely is a sterling crisis or: is London really Reykjavik-on-Thames?
Icelanders might be able to cheer themselves up with a bit of schadenfreude shortly
With the pound sterling dropping like a stone against most other currencies and credit default swap rates on long-term UK sovereign debt beginning to edge up, this is a good time to revisit a suggestion I made earlier on a number of occasions (e.g. here, here and here), that there is a non-trivial risk of the UK becoming the next Iceland.
posted by Abiezer at 7:22 PM on November 16, 2008


An expat Icelander's view.
posted by Phanx at 8:22 AM on November 17, 2008


« Older QWOP   |   the ultimate chaser Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post