One of the countries in Europe where people’s lives have been dramatically changed by the financial crisis is Iceland.
Once a global financial haven, the nation’s economy collapsed overnight. With rising unemployment and cost of living, people have been forced to change their habits. One young shopper in Iceland’s capital said: “You have to change the way you buy food and clothing … I can’t buy, anything new today and it’s not worth it either. There are other things that are much more important in life.” Discount stores and second-hand shops are thriving now, and experts say people’s values have changed. Jon Olafsson, a social sciences professor, said: “The heroes of yesterday are the villains of today, and things that people actually held in high esteem, such as, you know, money in a broad sense, is not any more such a main thing as it used to be for the last few years.” With a change of government and financial policies, and an application to join the European Union, Iceland is optimistic. However, experts warn it will take some time before the economy starts to improve.