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Lovely post. Thank you.

As it happens, I just today started reading John Lanchester's book, I.O.U.

Ch. 1 opens:

[Sometimes] something happens to change your sense of how the world works. For Rakel Stefansdottir, a young Icelandic woman studying for her master's degree in arts and cultural management at the University of Sussex in Brighton, it happened in early October 2008. She stuck her card into the [ATM] to take out some cash, and the machine told her that the funds weren't available. Rakel thought nothing of it. "I know it goes through the transatlantic telephone line and that sometimes has problems, so I thought it must be that." A day or so earlier she had paid her first term's school fees on her card; she had been working in the theater for a number of years before coming back to do this M.A. degree, and she was comfortably solvent.

We've all had the experience of sticking our card in the wall and not getting any money out of the ATM machine because we don't have any money in our account. But what Rakel, and thousands of other Icelanders that day, were experiencing was something much stranger and more unsettling. Her ATM card was blanking on her not because she didn't have the money but because the bank didn't. In fact, it wasn't just that the bank didn't have enough money, it was the Apocalypse Now scenario: her card wasn't working because Iceland had run out of money. On October 6 the government closed the banks and froze the movement of any capital outside the country because it was on the verge of going broke. By the time Rakel's credit card payment for her term's fees cleared, one day later, the Icelandic krona had collapsed and the amount she shelled out had increased by 40 percent. It took three weeks for Rakel to regain access to her bank account, and by that time it had become clear that her course of studies was unaffordable.
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