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Monday, December 01, 2008

Icelanders protest the central bank

On November 22nd, holding the policies of the Federal Reserve responsible for the international financial crisis, thousands of Americans rallied outside of Federal Reserve regional banks and branches in 39 cities with a simple message: "End the Fed!" 

Many held signs and banners in opposition to government bailouts of industry and in support of a bill, introduced by Texas Congressman Ron Paul, to repeal the Federal Reserve Act.

Paul, who ran for the Republican Party's presidential nomination on a libertarian platform and a plan to phase out the central bank by encouraging competing private currencies, addressed the crowd of protesters gathered in Houston with a speech about global monetary policy and the economy.

The Associated Press reports on a similar anti-central bank protest in Iceland today:

REYKJAVIK, Iceland: Thousands of Icelanders marked the 90th anniversary of their nation's sovereignty with angry protest Monday, and several hundred stormed the central bank to demand the ouster of bankers they blame for the country's spectacular economic meltdown.

Tiny Iceland has seen its banks and currency collapse in just a few weeks while prices and unemployment soar — leaving a country regarded as a model of Scandinavian prosperity in a state of shock.

"The government played roulette and the whole nation has lost," writer Einar Mar Gudmundsson told a noisy but peaceful anti-government rally of several thousand people in downtown Reykjavik.

After the rally, hundreds of protesters stormed the headquarters of Sedlabanki, Iceland's central bank, demanding the sacking of its chief, David Oddsson.

The demonstrators staged an hour-long standoff with shield-wielding riot police inside the bank's lobby, singing songs and chanting "Out with David" and "Power to the People." The protest ended peacefully when both police and demonstrators agreed to withdraw.

Anti-government protests have been growing larger and angrier since Iceland's three main banks collapsed in October under the weight of huge debts amassed during years of rapid economic growth. Since then the value of the country's currency, the krona, has plummeted. Icelanders who grew used to buying houses and cars with easily available foreign-currency loans now struggle to repay them. The cost of everyday goods is skyrocketing — furniture retailer Ikea hiked its prices by 25 percent.

Read the rest.

Check below the break for an Icelandic news report shot on the scene of the protest:

Posted by Kalim Kassam on December 1, 2008 in International Affairs | Permalink

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