The Icelandic banking collapse - was the optimal policy path chosen?
This study examines the economic policies of the Icelandic government in the wake of the banking collapse of 2008 in terms of counter-factual policy options. The path chosen was important for the recovery but policy makers faced alternative policy options for handling the many difficult situations that arose, with potential implications for government finances and economic growth. We utilize two complementary macroeconomic models to assess the decisions taken and the recovery and on that basis develop counter-factual scenarios of how the crisis could have played out if the decisions had been different. Four alternative scenarios are considered involving different ways to deal with the collapse: i) adopt a more pro-cyclical fiscal policy, ii) allow the ISK exchange rate to drop without imposing capital controls, iii) pay the interest expense on the initial Icesave agreement, or iv) rescue the banks as Ireland did. Macroeconomic model simulations are performed to assess the impact of different decisions involving public finances on economic growth, unemployment and other macroeconomic variables over the period 2008-2025. The results are compared to the actual path taken. Addressing this question is potentially interesting in its own right and also from the point of view of other countries that have experienced similar crises but have responded differently.
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