Icelandic Money Lessons for U.S. Women

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Did you know that the value of Icelandic stock multiplied 9 times from 2003 to 2007. The U.S. stock market, by comparison, was only doubling each year. This country whose economy had been based on the fishing industry for 1,000 years went into investment banking with a vengence. And, who were they emulating? The U.S. Guess how that turned out? 

Interviewed on The Daily Show by Jon Stewart, Michael Lewis, author of Boomerang, said that the Icelandic women went along with all the investment banking because the men were so sure of themselves.  But, when the market crashed in 2008, that began to change. Of course, by then the country's three banks had all collapsed and every man, woman and child in Iceland owed a part of the debt - $330,000 each.  There was only one woman in a senior position in an Icelandic bank and in 2006 she quit to start a financial services business entirely with women. Today her company is one of the few profitable financial businesses in Iceland. 

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The message I'm trying to get across here is that we women need to be more involved in the financial decision making of our institutions and our country. We need to put on our big girl money pants, empower ourselves to make more money and to manage it well. (No, you probably don't need that 30th pair of shoes.) Then we need to create female run banking institutions, lots of small women owned businesses, and run for political office (only 16% women in Congress) and finally elect a woman President. The woman's touch is sorely needed today. This gender change of power is to balance things out - not to take pot shots at men because if you've noticed we're in big financial trouble in the world because of the traditional way things have been run. Enough.  Occupy Wall Street - yes - and let's start a Women Occupy Wall Street as well.