February 10, 2009
Tune in: Online radio show on Iceland’s collapse

Just over a year ago, many in Iceland praised Prime Minister Geir Haarde for strengthening the country’s economy and Iceland was rated the “best place to live” by the United Nations.

Then the global financial crisis hit, and the country’s three largest banks failed in October. In late January, Haarde resigned following weeks of public pressure and the coalition government collapsed. Up to 32,000 people have participated in protests – more than 10 percent of the country’s population.

The upheaval has led some analysts to call Iceland “the first political casualty of the global credit crisis.”

Haarde’s interim replacement, Johanna Sigurdardottir — Iceland’s first female prime minister and the world’s first openly gay leader – will head the new center-left coalition government. She has plans to revamp the country’s banking system.

Read our Blogwatch for reactions from bloggers on the ground: Iceland in upheaval as banks and government implode.

What went wrong in Iceland, and is it a cautionary tale for the wider world? What does the country’s future hold? Worldfocus.org’s weekly radio show explored Iceland’s rise and fall.

Martin Savidge hosted a panel of guests to shed light on Iceland’s situation:

Michael T. Corgan is a professor of international relations at Boston University, specializing in international security studies and Icelandic government and politics. He is the author of “Iceland and Its Alliances: Security for a Small State.” Michael taught at the University of Iceland as a Fulbright scholar/professor in 2001, and has worked for the U.S. Naval Academy and as a political advisor to the commander of the Iceland Defense Air Force.

Tryggvi Herbertsson is a professor of economics at the University of Reykjavík. Before joining the university, he was the CEO of Askar Capital, a Nordic investment bank. He served as the special economic advisor to the prime minister of Iceland during the collapse of the Icelandic financial system. Tryggvi has been a consultant to private companies, institutions and international organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, the Nordic Council of Ministers and the OECD.

Alda Sigmundsdottir is a writer, translator and commentator based in Reykjavík, Iceland. She runs the popular blog “The Iceland Weather Report,” where she wrote about taking part in the recent protests. Alda has worked as a journalist and for the British Embassy in Reykjavík.

Credits:
Host: Martin Savidge
Producers: Lisa Biagiotti, Katie Combs and Bijan Rezvani

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