'Viking Bankers' Pillaged Iceland

How Iceland went from fishing to finance to ruin
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2009 2:48 AM CST
A protester holds a sign reading: "People get up and go" as thousands of people gather to protest the government's handling of the economy in Reykjavik earlier this year.   (AP Photo/Brynjar Gauti)
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(Newser) – The bankers who ruined Iceland’s economy possessed the mentality of its fishermen—daring, aggressive, and devoted to the “lucky catch," Michael Lewis writes in Vanity Fair. It's no surprise—after all, they were the sons of fishermen whose massive profits helped modernize Iceland in the 1970s. But speculating on foreign currency is trickier than cod-fishing, writes Lewis, and now Iceland's women are furious over male folly.

“The financial culture is very male-dominated,” said Kristin Petursdottir, whose female-run financial firm still prospers. “It is a pool of sharks. Women just despise the culture.” Lewis' encounters with hard-drinking, confident men—who still believe in elves—seemed to confirm her beliefs. A visit to a Viking museum devoted to gruesome battle scenes completed the picture. "There are plenty of women," Lewis writes, "but this is a men’s history."