Authors / Editors
Baldursson F M; Portes R
We examine the evolution of the Icelandic banking sector in its macroeconomic environment. The story culminates in the crisis of October 2008, when all three major banks in Iceland collapsed in three successive days. The country is still struggling to cope with the consequences. The paper follows on our report of autumn 2007. The macroeconomic boom that peaked in 2007 led to severe imbalances. The banks had expanded at a rapid pace and reported healthy profits, capital ratios and liquidity until their collapse. An official report (SIC, 2010) has, however, exposed severe weaknesses in the banks’ assets and governance. The Icelandic Financial Services Authority (FSA) clearly knew little of the magnitude of large, single exposures and lending to the banks’ owners, although they strongly maintained otherwise in autumn 2007. Neither the FSA nor the Central Bank of Iceland (CBI) saw the systemic risks created by lending to owners and related parties, which increased greatly from September 2007.
Icelandic banks; Financial crisis of 2008; Banking crisis; Currency crisis; Carry trade; Liquidity