Reykjavik, Iceland – For a country that four years ago plunged into a financial abyss so deep it all but shut down overnight, Iceland seems to be doing surprisingly well.
It has repaid, early, many of the international loans that kept it afloat. Unemployment is hovering around 6 percent, and falling. And while much of Europe is struggling to pull itself out of the recessionary swamp, Iceland’s economy is expected to grow by 2.8 percent this year.
“Everything has turned around,” said Adalheidur Hedinsdottir, who owns and runs the coffee chain Kaffitar, the Starbucks of Iceland, and has plans to open a new cafe and start a bakery business. “When we told the bank we wanted to make a new company, they said, ‘Do you want to borrow money?’ ” she went on. “We haven’t been hearing that for a while.”
Analysts attribute the surprising turn of events to a combination of fortuitous decisions and good luck, and caution that the lessons of Iceland’s turnaround are not readily applicable to the larger and more complex economies of Europe.