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This is the second post in a five-part blog series focused on the energy industry. 

Every day we face new problems arising from the environmental state of our world. Widespread pollution is a huge problem to our environment and there is an urgent need to start using renewable sources that eliminate the burning of fossil fuels. Geothermal and hydroelectric are renewable sources of energies and produce “clean” fuel sources.

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It is no shock that developing countries have the lowest access to healthcare. According to the Global Economic Symposium, “low and middle-income countries bear 93% of the world´s disease burden, yet account for only 18% of world income and 11% of global health spending.” While this lack of access to medical services is common on the demand side of the healthcare industry due to people not being able to afford the costs of the treatment, another prevalent issue occurs on the supply side.

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The European Union is in a metamorphic phase, as illustrated by globalEDGE’s various blog posts on the topic. The trade bloc is trying desperately to stabilize its currency, sustain healthy industry growth, and prevent Greece from defaulting on sovereign debt. These nations have remained resilient before and many economists believe they will stand the test of time, for there is strength in numbers. Six countries are currently in the process to become full-fledged members. One of the candidates is Iceland.

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In 2008, Iceland’s entire banking structure failed causing a devastating economic recession. This caused the economy to contract by 6.6% in 2009 and an additional 4.1% in 2010. At the time, many thought this situation was incurable and criticized Iceland’s tactics for recovery. However, those critics proved to be wrong. Last year, Iceland’s recovered economy grew faster than both the United States and European economies. Now the country is ranked high in terms of economic and political stability. How exactly did Iceland complete its remarkable economic recovery?

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Since the Nordic economies are relatively small and open, exporting constitutes an important part of the economic activities in the Nordic region. Denmark, Norway, and Sweden have all had greater exports than imports every year since 1995. As the Nordic countries focus on exporting a few different products, each of them contributes to the growth of the regional Nordic economy and they together form a competitive market in the global economy.

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In this gE Blog Series, we feature the Nordic countries, which consist of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Together the Nordic countries make up a cultural and geographical region in Northern Europe and are integrated economically, historically, and linguistically. In the most recent Doing Business Economy Rankings by the World Bank Group, all five of the Nordic countries were ranked in the top 14 out of 189 countries. The rankings measure the ease of conducting business and reflect how conducive each country’s regulatory environment is to a business operation. In all, ten factors are used to rank the countries. A few of the most notable factors are ease of starting a business, paying taxes, trading across borders, and enforcing contracts.

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Iceland’s application to join the European Union is being threatened by new quotas involving Iceland’s largest industry, the fishing industry. The new fish that is booming the industry in Iceland is the mackerel, and Ireland, Norway, and other European members are debating over how much mackerel Iceland should be able to fish. Scientists believe that mackerel are migrating to Icelandic waters in greater numbers, and since fishing accounts for forty percent of Iceland’s exports, the mackerel are now a vital part of Iceland’s economy. These fish led to the rebound from the crisis Iceland was going through, and if the stock allowed is increased, they will be able to lift the economy further.

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Who knew a volcanic eruption in Iceland could put such a damper on things?  As airports throughout Europe shut down flights due to the volcanic ash, many business professionals are coming to the realization that they aren’t going to make that 2 o’clock meeting.

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One of the quirkier tools used to examine the Purchasing Power Parity between two currencies has been the Big Mac hamburger, responsible for being the basis of The Economist’s Big Mac Index, which compares the price of Big Mac hamburgers in each country. It may be difficult, however, to apply the Big Mac index to Iceland’s króna, as the hamburger giant has pulled out of the country. Don’t pity Iceland, however. Fast Company’s Robert Walcott and Michael Lippitz visited Iceland in December, and are quite optimistic regarding its potential.

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Traditionally, Iceland has been one of Europe’s priciest vacation destinations. However, following the recent financial collapse, vacationing in Iceland has become much more affordable. Since the financial crisis, the Icelandic króna is worth less than half its value a year ago, which, as economics tells us, increases the value of other currencies being used in that country. Some multi-night deals are starting at $400, a sign of both the depressed Icelandic economy as well as the desire of attracting foreign currency in order to help jump-start the economy.

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Many agree, times are tough right now. Yet, no country right now is suffering the level of crisis that Iceland is. A small number of investors in Iceland have essentially turned the country’s banking system into one giant hedge fund. In response, many concerned Icelanders have taken to the streets, especially in the capital of Rejkjavic, to protest these “financial Vikings” and call for re-regulation to come to the banking industry.

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You may be shocked to learn that the liabilities of Iceland’s colossal banks are several times larger than the country’s GNP. Prime Minister Geir Haarde recently addressed the nation and warned that in the worst case scenario, Iceland “could be sucked with the banks into the whirlpool and the result could be national bankruptcy”. You certainly weren’t beating around the bush with this statement, were you Mr. Haarde? The very fact that the country’s leader made a comment with this strong language points to the gravity of the present situation.

Unfortunately things did take a turn for the worse this morning, with major credit lines to Icelandic banks being closed. Trading at the Iceland Stock Exchange was suspended due to the crisis. Citizens around the world are justifiably worried about their financial security, but it seems that Icelanders may have the most to worry about.

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The credit crisis that has been a major issue in the United States lately has spread fear through European governments as they saw the need to step in with a flurry of major bank bailouts in different countries from Iceland to Germany. The governments of Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands have been taking partial control of some of their national banks. Furthermore, the government of Iceland seized control of Glitnir bank – the third largest in the country. However, these rapid bailouts are not making banks in Europe feel more secure as they keep on refusing to lend to each other money for all but the shortest periods of time. Meanwhile, shares are falling heavily and the money markets remain frozen.