Kirk Semple reported Monday from Iceland, site of the unpronounceable volcano that's causing so much misery, and facetiously blamed Icelanders for the problem: "Mostly Clear Consciences for Those at the Source of Europe's Consternation." But what's with this crack at "radical free market economics"?
It may seem to outsiders that Iceland has leapt on to the world stage, but Icelanders say otherwise. Sparsely populated with about 310,000 residents, they say it has long had a streak of influence elsewhere far out of proportion to its economic power or population. Settled in the ninth century by Norsemen, it was for several centuries thereafter a zone of experimentation in radical free market economics known as the Icelandic Free State, with no taxes, no police or army, and certainly no bureaucrats.
It was those settlers' descendants - spiritually, at least, and known, unflatteringly, as "the Vikings" - who ran all over the globe in the last decade brokering wild, overleveraged deals that led to the crash in 2008.