Saturday, May 2, 2009

Iced In

The best thing I've read about Tough Times '09 is this Vanity Fair profile by Michael Lewis, money analyst and sportswriter. In a visit to the economically devastated nation of Iceland, Lewis goes beyond faulty strategies and the facile blame game. The entire culture of finance is revealed as a confederation of deluded machismo, on thin ice that finally broke.

It's not Lewis' first probe of the hypocrisy of money. His first book Liar's Poker called bluff on the big-swinging-dick world of 1980s Wall Street.

An intriguing aspect of Iceland's buffoonery is the image of cultural superiority, or at least underratedness, that the isolated country has long engendered. Sumarlioi Isliefsson examines the platitudes that the overinvestors told themselves, some of which have a creepy racial component.

I admit to harboring a foolish fascination with Iceland. Empowered women. Hot springs (Reykjavik means "bay of steam"). At least one literary titan. I even irrationally entered a sweepstakes for a free trip.