Monday, October 13, 2008

Iceland meltdown

The current global financial crisis somehow feels SFnal, futuristic, cyberpunk, to me.

Much wealth -- as varied as commodities futures, options on stocks, and credit default swaps -- is no more than entries in computers. Information. Or maybe disinformation. The value of the underlying "assets" is a collective state of mind, subject to mood swings -- and so, to hysteria (er, news). Or, for anyone with a conspiratorial belief system, to manipulation.

And so Iceland, a thoroughly developed country, goes almost overnight from wealthy to broke (e.g., see this USA Today story), its metaphorical hand extended for aid. Iceland is hardly the only problem spot, of course, merely (IMO) the poster child for the current crisis.

I don't mean to exonerate or excuse any particular institution. In the case of Iceland, for example, accepting bank deposits equal to about ten times the GDP looks -- in retrospect, anyway -- like a really bad idea. An SFnal, post-national, bad idea.

It's not the future I was looking for ...

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