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The Herring Crisis
It is safe to assert that in October 2008, Iceland as we knew it changed overnight. The fall of the banks initiated an economic crisis that almost four years later is still afflicting the nation. Crisis can be defined as a time when conditions in a certain domain degenerate to a level far worse compared to what they have been like for several years or even decades (Jón Óttar Ragnarsson 11). Observing history these “good” and “bad” times seem to take turns at regular intervals and some say that the current economic crisis was long overdue in terms of average historical frequency in advanced societies (Allen xi). In this context it is interesting to examine earlier periods of recession and study the reasons for and consequences of these circumstances. When my grandfather left to Australia in 1968 to improve his family’s life conditions, the herring collapse in late 1967 had come as a shock to the nation initiating an economic crisis in the country, unemployment increased to a degree never known before and outmigration rates had not been as high since 1887 (Hamilton, Otterstad, and Helga Ögmundardóttir 114).
The economic growth in Iceland in the 20th century was essentially due to the expansion and development of the fishing industry and until the mid 1970s Iceland’s economy was flourishing and the labour market was in constant demand for work force (Sveinn Agnarsson and Ragnar Árnason 1; 6). Herring was the main catch and had been ever since the Norwegian...