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Sandy asks…

will BERNANKE and corrupt politicians turn their country into UNITED STATES OF ICELAND?

NEW YORK (Fortune) — It’s time to start paying attention to the financial sinkhole that Iceland is trying to climb out of — the view from inside of it is eerily similar to our own.

An Icelandic savings bank, Icesave, had attracted billions in deposits from hundreds of thousands of British and Dutch citizens, due to the phenomenally high interest rates it offered. Icesave collapsed in 2008, for much the same reason Lehman Brothers, WaMu, and hundreds of local savings banks did: its bankers used their cash to make complicated, bad, leveraged investments, mostly on real estate.

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The British and Dutch have made their citizens whole, bailing out Icesave after it became clear the Icelandic government didn’t have the resources to do the same.

Now, they expect to be repaid. But in a referendum there this past weekend,only 1.8% of voters favored a plan to pay back the $5.3 billion Iceland owes. Iceland has agreed in principle to repay the bailout to the UK and Netherlands, but the fight is over the terms and interest rate of the payment plan.

To call the rejected terms loan-sharking would be a disservice to usury. They called for every Icelandic family to essentially throw a quarter of its income towards servicing the loan for the next eight years. But this isn’t the end: one way or another, the bill will come due, and Iceland’s 320,000 citizens will be paying for the hubris of a few hundred of their own, who dubbed themselves “investment bankers.”

The amount owed — $5.3 billion — sounds like a rounding error to Americans, but, per capita, it would be the equivalent of the United States taking on a $5 trillion debt. Sounds impossible, until you consider that our real bailout tab, as calculated by the New York Times, is already $2 trillion. Moreover, the government has obligated itself to pay out $12.5 trillion if things get worse. In Vanity Fair last April, Michael Lewis wrote, “Iceland instantly became the only nation on earth that Americans could point to and say, ‘Well, at least we didn’t do that.'”

0:00 /2:32The return of financial reform
Yet in a pretty real way, we did do “that.” We have a more sophisticated central banking system, and there are more countries, like China, in whose interest it is to protect the value of the American dollar, thanks to their ownership of our national debt. In that crucial way, we’ve dodged Iceland’s true peril: watching the value of its currency, the króna, crash against the debt it owes in foreign currencies like the sterling and euro. It’s looking more and more like our craftiest bankers factored the inimitable strength and guarantee of the U.S. dollar into their reckless gambles.

But the rest of us are really just lucky that the dollar can survive these hurricane-level economic forces without blowing apart. One way or another, the bill is coming due, and America’s 300 million citizens will be paying for the hubris of a few thousand of their own, who dubbed themselves “investment bankers.”

While Lewis summons a gentle humor to chronicle a tiny nation’s transformation from European fishing capital to destroyer of capital markets, it’s worth remembering America’s Rube Goldberg financial machinery sprung from a society that was once far more concerned with agriculture (and later, manufacturing) than with inventing complicated and opaque ways to manufacture wealth.

It’s too easy and wrong to look at Iceland as being somehow dumber than we were. Their problems aren’t just an outgrowth of our financial handiwork; their problems are our financial handiwork. And Icelanders have thoroughly rejected being placed in hock to exonerate the tiny segment of the population that threw their country into chaos.

In our democracy, we didn’t have that choice. From Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s ramming of TARP through Congress, to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s decision to abandon subtlety and mainline dollars into bank balance sheets, even our presidential election had little impact on our government’s deployment of huge amounts of capital to save our obese banking system.

Icelandic journalist Iris Erlingsdottir wrote in the Huffington Post, “While we have been endlessly debating IceSave, our unemployment rate has continued to climb, the number of insolvencies has continued to increase, and the number of public services has continued to decrease. Other scandals of comparable magnitude and abuse of taxpayer money — but involving only Icelanders — are being ignored by the Icelandic media.” Change a few nouns — health care, Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) — and Erlingsdottir is writing about Washington as Reykjavik.

Just because the crisis has been “managed” doesn’t mean it’s over. As economist Simon Johnson writes, “The true fiscal c

scottparat answers:

Ask the question how a country like the USA can be s hijacked as it is.

GOP or Democrat does not make a diff. It is the Uber powerful that take the money out of the econmy. And (democrats and republicans) are distracted from this by fighting against each other.

We the people need to take back this country.

Ruth asks…

Is it in bad taste to advertise this way?

I recently started up my own business where I sketch residential homes. I have attracted a couple real estate agents using craigslist (they want to use the sketch as a settlement gift for their clients). But, I want more agents !! Craigslist only gets me so far, so I’ve been emailing agents that live in my state directly with all my information, website, samples, contact info etc… (i’ve found their info online) . This is the only way I feel I can directly market to them. Is this bad? I’m not sure how else to let them know about my service.
** I try to keep the email as personal as I can.. using their first name, not just “to whom it may concern”.. etc…

** I like the open house idea!

scottparat answers:

What you’re doing is sending spam. A better way would be to design and send a brochure to these people. You can design and have it printed at

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