Banking Meltdown Driving Icelanders Back to Fishing

Financial system collapse leaves nation adrift
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2008 5:05 AM CDT
Iceland's Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde listens to an aide during a press conference in Reykjavik, Iceland, earlier this week.   (AP Photo/Arni Torfason)
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(Newser) – The collapse of its financial system has left Iceland with little left to rely on but the sea that surrounds it, writes the Wall Street Journal. With few natural resources on land, fishing was the mainstay of Icelandic life for centuries until the nation's global banking industry rapidly expanded a few years ago—only to implode even faster.

Fish industry workers deserted their livelihoods in droves after the nation's banks were privatized. They sailed into finance with the same daring as they went to sea, and many prospered—until the over-leveraged industry collapsed. The sea loomed large again for one rich banking executive who once worked as a deckhand—and faced bad news at his job this week. "The basic message I heard was, 'Go find another job,'" he said.