Iceland: What It's Like to Live in a World Without Money

by: Paul Kedrosky

A must-read piece in weekend FT by a writer in Iceland. It is wonderfully written, specific, and filled with context on what it is like to live in a first-world country teetering at the edge of solvency, and without access to trade/currency.

A drive across town later that afternoon, October 6, at first gave grounds for comfort. The roads were as full as usual for the Reykjavik rush-hour – a half-hour build-up of traffic. Aircraft flew in and out of the downtown airport, students made their way home from schools and universities – note the plural – while visitors went to hospitals and fitness fiends to sports clubs. Reykjavik showed all the outward appearances of carrying on.

But a different picture began to emerge from the hourly news bulletins on the car radio. The Icelandic krona’s freeze in the capital markets had now spilled over into the day-to-day transactions of Icelanders abroad. Holidaymakers and business travellers venturing “til Útlanda”, as it is called, found their credit cards refused, and those wishing to buy foreign currency could not find willing sellers, aside from one or two who limited their purchases to €200.

Read the whole thing.

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