After the turn of the century the Icelandic banks, Kaupthing, Landsbankinn and Glitnir expanded at an astronomical pace, financing corporate vikings who went on a buying spree snatching up everything from department stores like The House of Frasier in London or Luxury Hotels like D’Angleterre in Copenhagen to real estate in Hong Kong.
The Icelandic financial miracle came to an end in 2008 when the overleveraged banks collapsed in one of the largest financial crashes in history. The bankruptcy of Kaupthing, the largest and most aggressive of the Icelandic banks, was significantly larger than the bankruptcy of Enron and if we consider the bankruptcy of the three large Icelandic banks as a single event it would rank as the third largest bankruptcy in history.
The events since the collapse of 2008 are equally remarkable. In the winter of 2008-9 Icelanders took to the streets in the “pots and pans revolution”, which has been seen as an inspiration to protest movements across Europe. Iceland has also sentenced more bankers and high flying financiers to jail than most other countries.
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- This tour is provided by CityWalk. Cancellation deadline is 72 hours prior to the tour date
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Children are welcome on the tour, they walk for free, but we wouldn’t recommend to bring children on this tour. The tour is wheelchair accessible and we cover mostly flat ground. With the chance of going indoors in case of bad weather to warm up. The walk itself is roughly 2.5 hours (150 minutes), distance covered about 3km (2 miles)
We start in a park, named Austurvöllur in front of the House of Parliament (Alþingi). Magnús is easy to spot, carefully marked CityWalk Reykjavík. Magnús Sveinn Helgason is an historian, and has taught economic and financial history at the University of Bifröst since 2010. In 2009-10 he worked for the Althing Special Investigative Commission on the collapse of the Collapse of the Financial System, authoring the fifth addendum to the commission report. Magnús has also worked as a broadcaster, columnist and journalist, writing on business, finance and history. In the fall of 2008 he worked as a business journalist at Fréttablaðið Markaðurinn. You can find some of his articles on Icelandic finance in English at the Reykjavík Grapevine Magazine.