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“The future is no longer what it once was,” an Icelandic friend told me during the early months of 2010. Iceland was severely affected by the global recession after the financial crisis of 2008. Once a highly developed country, Iceland now owes many times their gross national product to foreign countries. The island’s vast monetary and natural resources, spread out among a population of only 320,000, were lost in a haphazard economic gamble spearheaded by a small financial elite. Governmental institutions and the national press failed spectacularly at predicting the impending economic disaster, and were consequently totally unprepared for the financial collapse of 2009.
Debt accumulated by the few is now owed by many. As in many other debt-stricken countries, the taxpayer must pick up the bill. Inflation, tax increases, and rising unemployment have left Icelanders facing an uncertain future.
I spent two months in Iceland last winter, covering the financial crisis and the Icesave referendum. I wanted to explore how the financial crisis affected a population that went from wealthy to poor, and what the long-term consequences could be.
Jo Straube was born in Norway, 1983. After finishing his bachelor’s degree in photojournalism at the Oslo University College this spring, he is now trying to establish a career as a freelance photojournalist. His clients include the Norwegian dailies Dagbladet and Bergens Tidende, and his work has been published in national and international magazines, including The New York Times. He is currently working on independent projects as well as assisting photographer Jonas Bendiksen (Magnum Photos).