While the rest of the world, including the U.S. and Ireland, were rushing to heap bank losses on the backs of their citizenries, Iceland was letting its banks fail when its losses became too large for taxpayers to bear. In fact, the losses were so gargantuan — roughly ten times the size of its entire $12 billion economy — that it could not possibly have covered the losses.
By the “too big to fail” hypothesis, the failure to bail out Icesave should have wrecked the economy. But, businesses have not closed shop, failing to meet payroll as credit dried up. And although international banks are retaliating, downgrading its credit rating, the New York Times editorial board reports that, somehow, with no bailouts, Iceland is “pulling through.”