Cover design and picture:
Jón Kristinn Cortez and Vignir Jóhannsson.
Publisher: Ísalög, Reykjavík, 2020.
Fimm árstíđir/Five Seasons
Five songs by Thorvaldur Gylfason set to poems by Snorri Hjartarson (1906-1986). The poems are Autumn Is Here, Ice Breaks, Spring, and Summer Night, four seasons in all, and also Wolfdales, the fifth season. The book includes English translations of the poems, including Ágústa Flosadóttir´s translation of Wolfdales.
Hallveig Rúnarsdóttir soprano, Elmar Gilbertsson tenor, and Snorri Sigfús Birgisson piano performed a premiere of the cycle in Hannesarholt in Reykjavík 11 March 2017. The composer introduced the songs and recited the poems before the artists performed them. The performance took about 40 minutes and was recorded. The film is ready for broadcast. An orchestral version of the piano part is under preparation for performance by the singers accompanied by a symphony orchestra.

Cover design and pictures:
Ađalsteinn Svanur Sigfússon and Vignir Jóhannsson.
Back cover picture: Lárus Ýmir Óskarsson.
Publisher: Skrudda, Reykjavík, 2020.
Skáldaskil/Poets Apart
An epic trilogy in six acts, which deals with the tumultuous friendship between two Icelandic poets, Einar Benediktsson og Thorsteinn Gíslason.
The first part, Ţegar landiđ vaknar/When the land awakens, begins in Copenhagen in 1896, where Gíslason is a university student who has been denied the right to defend his master´s thesis on medieval Icelandic literature on the grounds that there is no such thing. Dr. Valtýr Guđmundsson, an associate professor at the university and a leading Icelandic politician, and Thorvaldur Pálsson, Gíslasons brother in law, soon to become a doctor, are unable to help resolve the conflict. From Copenhagen the goings on move to Reykjavík where Gíslason and his fiancée, Thórunn Pálsdóttir, meet Einar Benediktsson, who eagerly hires Gíslason as co-editor of Dagskrá/Agenda, Iceland´s first daily newspaper. The play concludes with a violent quarrel between Benediktsson and Gíslason about poetry at a public meeting. To Gíslason, this means war.
The second part, Ţegar skipiđ kveđur/When the ship departs, is an intermezzo, and begins onboard an East Asia Company ship as it arrives in the Virgin Islands in 1914. Deputy Governor Scott comes onboard to describe to captain H. N. Andersen, the main owner of the East Asia Company, and dr. Pálsson, the ship doctor, the islanders´ deep concern about the pending sale of the islands from Denmark to the United States. The goings on move ashore where Hamilton Jackson, a teacher, is among those who want the islands to be sold. Scott´s daughter, Stella, is eager to leave the islands with the ship. The play concludes with the gun shot in Sarajevo that throws the departure of the ship into jeopardy.
The third part, Ţegar blóđiđ syngur/When your blood sings, takes place at the Gíslason household in Reykjavík in 1932. It describes the reunion of Benediktsson and Gíslason, arranged by dr. Pálsson, a reunion that did not take place as far as is known. Benediktsson and Gíslason reluctantly recall their old quarrel from 1896, lamenting lost opportunities and time. The tension eases slowly. They converse about everything under the sun, especially politics and, ultimately, poetry. Dr. Pálsson and his sister go in and out and Halldór Kiljan Laxess, the young writer, comes for a vist in the final act, puts the old men in their place, and corrects Benediktsson´s poetry with a light touch.

Cover portrait: Brynjólfur Thórdarson.
Back cover portrait: Jóhannes S. Kjarval.
Publisher: Skrudda, Reykjavík, 2020.
This roman ŕ clef by Thorsteinn Gíslason, poet and editor (1867-1938), describes Iceland around 1900, when the country began its economic and social ascent on its own, free at last from Danish rule. Gíslason probably penned the novel during the last two years of his life after delivering and publishing in 1936 his twelve radio lectures on the political history of Iceland 1896-1918, to this day an important original source of information. As if he did not consider an objective historical account adequate to the task, he chose to recount the story a second time from the broader and freer vantage point of the poet, apparently to be able to thus paint a richer picture of events, ideas, personalities, and politics. The formula is also familiar in other countries where, for example, the French know their history of the first half of the 19th century in variable proportions from the writings of academic historians and novelists like Honoré de Balzac. Iceland is unusual if not unique in that here the same writer undertook both tasks, telling the story of his country during an important part of its history twice, first as a neutral observer or historian and then again as a novelist and poet. The manuscript was found in Gíslason´s papers after his passing and appears now in print for the first time, throwing new light on cultureal, political, and social life in Iceland around 1900, in Reykjavík as well as around the country. The manuscript was prepared for publication by Anna K. Bjarnadóttir and Thorvaldur Gylfason, who also writes an introduction to the volume.

Layout: Jón Kristinn Cortez.
Cover painting: Vignir Jóhannsson.
Back coverportrait: Gunnar Karlsson.
Publisher: Gutti, Reykjavík, 2019.
Svífandi fuglar/Soaring Birds
Fifteen songs by Thorvaldur Gylfason for high voice, piano, and cello set to poems by Kristján Hreinsson and arranged by Thórir Baldursson. The song cycle is an ode to life and to the beauty of the heavens. Available in music book stores. Kristinn Sigmundsson (bass), Bryndís Halla Gylfadóttir (cello) and Jónas Ingimundarson (piano) gave a sold-out premiere of the cycle in Salurinn in Kópavogur, one of the Reykjavík area's two main concert venues, 7 September 2014. The concert was repeated in Salurinn 14 September and in Dalvík near Akureyri 21 September. The poet briefly introduced each song. The concert was filmed, and was aired on Icelandic State Televison (RÚV) 16 March 2020 and again 22 March.


  1.   Í köldu myrkri/In Cold Dark
  2.   Í fađmi fugla/Embraced by Birds
  3.   Fuglshjartađ/A Bird´s Heart
  4.   Vals/A Waltz
  5.   Vegur ţagnar/The Path of Silence
  6.   Sólskríkjan mín syngur/My Songbird Sings
  7.   Fuglar minninga/Birds Remembered
  8.   Unađsreiturinn/Bed of Bliss
  9.   Dúfa/Dove
  10. Erlan/The Songbird
  11. Spegill fuglanna/Mirror of the Birds
  12. Voriđ brosir/The Smile of Spring
  13. Ég syng fyrir ţig/I Sing for You
  14. Einn kafli/One Chapter
  15. Grátur Jarđar/Earth Lament

Layout: Jón Kristinn Cortez.
Cover painting: Vignir Jóhannsson.
Back coverportrait: Gunnar Karlsson.
Publisher: Gutti, Reykjavík, 2019.
Svífandi fuglar/Soaring Birds
Fifteen songs by Thorvaldur Gylfason for low voice, piano, and cello set to poems by Kristján Hreinsson and arranged by Thórir Baldursson. The song cycle is an ode to life and to the beauty of the heavens. Available in music book stores. Kristinn Sigmundsson (bass), Bryndís Halla Gylfadóttir (cello) and Jónas Ingimundarson (piano) gave a sold-out premiere of the cycle in Salurinn in Kópavogur, one of the Reykjavík area's two main concert venues, 7 September 2014. The concert was repeated in Salurinn 14 September and in Dalvík near Akureyri 21 September. The poet briefly introduced each song. The concert was filmed, and was aired on Icelandic State Televison (RÚV) 16 March 2020 and again 22 March.


  1.   Í köldu myrkri/In Cold Dark
  2.   Í fađmi fugla/Embraced by Birds
  3.   Fuglshjartađ/A Bird´s Heart
  4.   Vals/A Waltz
  5.   Vegur ţagnar/The Path of Silence
  6.   Sólskríkjan mín syngur/My Songbird Sings
  7.   Fuglar minninga/Birds Remembered
  8.   Unađsreiturinn/Bed of Bliss
  9.   Dúfa/Dove
  10. Erlan/The Songbird
  11. Spegill fuglanna/Mirror of the Birds
  12. Voriđ brosir/The Smile of Spring
  13. Ég syng fyrir ţig/I Sing for You
  14. Einn kafli/One Chapter
  15. Grátur Jarđar/Earth Lament


Back cover text

This book is a Festschrift in honour of Per Magnus Wijkman, to celebrate his 80th anniversary. The book is intended for a broad audience of economists and policy makers.

In his long and distinguished career as researcher and practitioner of economics, Per has acquired many friends among colleagues in academia as well as in the three institutions where he served as Chief Economist.

The authors’ contributions in this book span a wide range, from trade theory to structural policies, from pure research to applied studies. Thereby they mirror the broad scope of economic fields that Per has been engaged in throughout his professional life.

Yet, the articles all have one thing in common: They do not abide by the dictum “Grau, teurer Freund, ist alle Theorie und grün des Lebens goldner Baum”. Au contraire, they show that economic theory and practice concern issues of great human interest and can provide us with important insights into the strivings and accomplishments of people and nations.

Prosperity through Trade and Structural Reform

Festschrift in honour of Per Magnus Wijkman

Editors: Emil Ems and Thorvaldur Gylfason

Emil Ems and Thorvaldur Gylfason

The Authors

Part 1. Trade Theory and Policy

Has World Commerce Reached its Natural Limit?
Gary Clyde Hufbauer

From Multilateralism to Bilateralism or Plurilateralism?
Anders Ahnlid

Sweden´s Current Account Surplus
Harry Flam

Swedish Export Industry has Changed Shape
Lena Hagman

Born Global or Stay Local
Pontus Braunerhjelm

Part 2. European Integration

Autonomy and Interdependence in Europe
Thomas Wieser

Will EMU Work Better in the Future?
Sixten Korkman

The Bells Toll for the European Union
Nils Lundgren

A Reform Strategy for a More Innovative and Entrepreneurial Europe
Magnus Henrekson

New Frontiers in the Euro Debate in Iceland
Thorsteinn Thorgeirsson

Part 3. Structural Economics and Policy

From Natural Resources to Human Rights
Thorvaldur Gylfason

Tragedies of Commons and Anti-Commons in Economics and Politics
Clas Wihlborg

Gaia vs. Pigou the Polluter Pays What? When? 
Emil Ems

The Public Wealth Trap a Threat to Countries´ Welfare
Stefan Fölster

Taxes vs. Charges New Ways of Financing the Welfare State?
Richard Murrey

Integration Policies in the Wake of the Refugee Crisis
Jonas Frycklund

Entrepreneurs in Sweden
Lars Jagrén

Part 4. Addendum

Curriculum Vitae Per Magnus Wijkman

Bibliography Per Magnus Wijkman


Published by Dialogos, Stockholm, 2018. Available for purchase.

Back cover text

With a group of talented and insightful authors, Beyond the Curse: Policies to Harness the Power of Natural Resources brings clarity and structure to the complex task of managing natural resource wealth effectively, avoiding the many pitfalls, and creating the foundations of sustained inclusive growth. This book is admirable for its sound economic foundations, its pragmatic approach to complexity, and its freedom from orthodoxies. It is a major contribution to a centrally important challenge for much of Africa.

Michael Spence, Professor of Economics, Stern School of Business, New York University

Winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences


Surprisingly (isn’t more always better?) natural resource discoveries, especially in poor countries, have been found to be, more often than not, a problem, rather than a blessing.  Beyond the Curse is a manual on the nature of the problems they spawn, and the policies that will avoid them.  It thus gives guidelines for how natural resources, and their revenues, should be handled.  It is immensely useful, and is the right book on the right problem at the right time. 

George Akerlof, Guest Scholar, International Monetary Fund, and Koshland Professor of Economics, University of California Berkeley

Winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences


Natural Resource bonanzas can finance the transformation out of poverty. But harnessing them for development has proved very difficult. The premium on good policy choices makes the practical guidance in this volume invaluable.

Paul Collier, Professor of Economics, Oxford University


Natural resource wealth holds both promise and peril for developing countries. This first-rate book brings together some of the world’s leading researchers, who carefully probe the evidence on the most challenging financial and fiscal issues in resource-rich countries. Their insights, and policy recommendations, are enlightening, accessible, and important.

Michael L. Ross, Professor of Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles

Beyond the Curse

Editors: Rabah Arezki, Thorvaldur Gylfason, og Amadou Sy


Countries with an abundance of natural resources, many of which are in sub-Saharan Africa, often show a record of relatively poor economic performance compared with non-resource-rich countries. The chapters in this volume explore the potential challenges to countries with abundant natural resources and ways to manage these challenges so as to reap the benefits of resource wealth while avoiding the pitfalls. The book is divided into five sections, which explore commodity markets and the macroeconomy, economic diversification and the role of finance, fiscal policy, exchange rates and financial stability, and governance. The ideas in this book were first presented at a seminar in November 2010 that was aimed primarily at policymakers in sub-Saharan Africa and brought together ministers, central bank governors, other senior policymakers, and well-known academics.


Christine Lagarde

1. Overview
Leslie Lipschitz

Part I. Commodity Markets and the Macroeconomy

2. Natural Resource Endowment: A Mixed Blessing?
Thorvaldur Gylfason, University of Iceland

3. Primary Commodities: Historical Perspectives and Prospects
Marian Radetzki, Luleĺ University of Technology

Part II. Economic Diversification and the Role of Finance

4. Economic Diversification in Resource Rich Countries
Alan Gelb, Center for Global Development

5. Finance and Oil: Is there a Natural Resource Curse in Financial Development?
Thorsten Beck, Tilburg University

6. The Economics of Sovereign Wealth Funds: Lessons from Norway
Thomas Ekeli, Ministry of Finance, Norway
Amadou Sy, IMF Institute

Part III. Fiscal Policy

7. What Can We Learn from Primary Commodity Prices Series which is Useful to Policymakers in Resource Rich Countries?
Kaddour Hadri, Queens University Management School

8. Sustainable Fiscal Policy for Mineral-Based Economies
Kirk Hamilton and Eduardo Ley, World Bank

9. Fiscal Policy in Commodity Exporting Countries: Stability and Growth
Rabah Arezki, IMF Institute

Part IV. Exchange Rates and Financial Stability

10. How Can Commodity Exporters Make Fiscal and Monetary Policy Less Procyclical?
Jeffrey Frankel, Harvard University
11. Natural Resources Management and Financial Stability: Evidence from Algeria
Mohammed Laksaci, Governor, Bank of Algeria

12. Copper and Macroeconomic Fluctuations in Chile
José De Gregorio, Governor, Central Bank of Chile

Part V. Governance and Institutional Aspects

13. The Political Economy of Reform in Resource Rich Countries
Ragnar Torvik, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

14. Terms of Trade and Growth of Resource Economies: A Tale of Two Countries
Augustin Fosu, UNU-WIDER
Anthony Owusu Gyapong, Penn State University-Abington


Published by the International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC, September 2011. Available for purchase.


Gylfason, Thorvaldur - Holmström, Bengt - Korkman, Sixten - Söderström, Hans Tson - Vihriälä, Vesa

During the past two years, the world has experienced its most severe slump since the Great Depression in the 1930s. The Nordic countries have been hit harder than most other countries.

Due to its sharpness and depth, the current global financial and economic crisis has initiated a wide debate on the supposed self-correcting properties of the market economy, on the need for more effective regulation and supervision of financial markets, and on the role of macroeconomic stabilization policies. It has led to a re-evaluation of the role of monetary and fiscal policy. It calls into question the virtues of unfettered globalization, underlining the need for global institutions and cooperation. It throws new light on the costs and benefits of the welfare state and its risk- sharing mechanisms. The crisis is opening up a broad agenda of essential policy issues for renewed consideration.

This is a report on the global financial and economic crisis from the point of view of small open economies with particular reference to the Nordic economies. The report discusses a number of important questions: Why were the Nordic countries hit hard by a crisis, which apparently had little if anything to do with the stability of their own financial systems or with their competitiveness in global markets? What have the Nordics done and what could they do to alleviate the domestic consequences of the crisis? What are the lessons of the crisis with regard to monetary policy and the different choices of monetary regime across the Nordic region? Is there need and scope for expansionary fiscal policy in small open economies even though fiscal multipliers may be small and large budget deficits may threaten public debt sustainability? How can fiscal consolidation and a resumption of economic growth best be reconciled? Should the Nordic countries reconsider their outward-looking growth model in view of a more unstable global economy? Is the Nordic socio-economic model an asset or a liability in the light of the crisis?

The report offers an in-depth analysis of the macroeconomic issues faced by small open economies in a turbulent world economy. It outlines the main elements of the policies that should guide the Nordic countries in their search for less vulnerability and more resilience.

The book was published by The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy (ETLA) in January 2010. It can be downloaded in its entirety.

Table of contents

1.  Introduction and Summary: Putting the Crisis into Perspective

2.  The Crisis and the Global Policy Response

3.  The Panic of 2007-2008: A Modern Bank Run

4.  Looking Back at Volatility and Growth

5.  Dé Vu: The Crisis of Sweden and Finland in the Early 1990s

6.  Safeguarding Financial Intermediation: Nordic Lessons

7.  From Boom to Bust: The Iceland Story

8.  EMU and the Crisis: Better to Be In or Out?

9.  Can Fiscal Policy Help?

10. Fiscal Consolidation and Growth

11. Building a More Robust Financial System

12. Vulnerability and Resiliance

Further information from  publisher

Available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble

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This book is an attempt to explain, in plain prose and pictures, the theory and empirical evidence of economic growth around the world. It is essentially a non-technical book. All equations are confined to appendices at the end of the book (with one exception: E = mc2). Having taught economic growth for some time to undergraduate and postgraduate students at the University of Iceland, I felt that there might be a need for such a book, because much of the new theory and evidence of economic growth has not yet found its way into books other than those intended mostly for doctoral students. Hence this attempt to provide an accessible account of economic growth. The book is intended primarily for students of economics and business administration as well as for business managers, economists, journalists, politicians, public officials, and others who are interested in understanding economic growth.

Richard Feynman was once asked by a younger colleague: "Dick, explain to me, so that I can understand it, why spin one-half particles obey Fermi-Dirac statistics." Feynman answered: "I’ll prepare a freshman lecture on it." Feynman came back a few days later and said: "I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t reduce it to the freshman level. That means we don’t really understand it." This book is written in a similar spirit. It deliberately bypasses some technical aspects of recent growth theory in an attempt to reduce the risk that the reader does not see the forest for the trees.

Moreover, the book has a message, and it is this: To grow or not to grow is in large measure a matter of choice. It is also a matter of justice, for those who usually pay the highest price for the economic growth that did not take place are the poor. The book discusses old and new research that shows that many of the most important determinants of economic growth are clearly within the purview of economic policy. Liberalization, stabilization, privatization, and education are good for growth. The government has an important role to play—and, indeed, responsibility—in all of these areas. It takes a government to privatize, for one thing.

The book was published by Oxford University Press in August 1999.

Those instructors who adopt the book for their courses will be invited to download from this homepage, free of charge, ready-made slides in PowerPoint summarizing the main points of the book chapter by chapter, including all tables and figures.

The table of contents of the book is as follows:

1. Growing Apart

Burma and Thailand
Botswana, Nigeria, and Ghana
Uruguay, Argentina, and Spain
Madagascar and Mauritius
Roots and branches
Quantity and quality
The importance of being efficient
Reforms and growth

2. Roots and Branches

The first revolution: Adam Smith
Adam Smith’s followers
Enter mathematics: Harrod and Domar
The second revolution: The neoclassical model
The third revolution: Endogenous growth

3. Quantity and Quality

Endogenous growth and technology
Endogenous growth accounting
The level of income with endogenous growth
The neoclassical model again
How strong? How long?
Exogenous growth illustrated
How much to save
Optimal growth in figures

4. The Importance of Being Efficient

Growing together? Or growing apart?
Absolute vs. conditional convergence
Poverty traps
Case 1: Liberalization
Case 2: Stabilization
Case 3: Privatization
Case 4: Education, health, and distribution
Case 5: Natural resources and geography

5. Reforms and Growth

Unemployment and growth
Some obstacles to reforms and growth
In conclusion


2.1 The Harrod-Domar Model
2.2. The Solow Model: Exogenous Growth
2.3. Endogenous Growth

3.1. More on Endogenous Growth
3.2. More on Exogenous Growth
3.3. Optimal Saving and Growth

4.1. Liberalization, Efficiency, and Growth
4.2. Stabilization, Efficiency, and Growth
4.3. Privatization, Efficiency, and Growth
4.4. Education, Taxes, and Growth

Cast of Characters

Clean Slate

his is my eighth volume of essays in Icelandic, published in August 2012 in time for the national referendum that the Icelandic parliament held on 20 October 2012 on the constitutional bill prepared in 2011 by the Constitutional Council of which I was a member, elected by the nation and subsequently appointed by parliament, and delivered to parliament 29 July 2011.

The 69 essays in the collection deal with constitutional matters from many different angles. For the story in English, see may papers "From collapse to constitution: The case of Iceland" and "Constitutions: Send in the Crowds". The boook is also available as an ebook in a longer versions with 83 essays.

The book is 150 pages. Poet Kristján Hreinsson writes a foreword. Artist Vignir Jóhannsson painted the cover illustration.

Two Worlds

This is my seventh volume of essays in Icelandic. It was in November 2005 by Iceland University Press. My latest collection of essays, The Future is Another Country, came out in 2001. The one before that, Trade for Gain, came out in 1999. High Time came out in 1995. My first three collections of essay were published in 1990-1993.

The 168 essays in the new collection are divided into ten parts. The first, Culture, deals with Icelandic, writing, theater, films, and music. The second part, Education, development, and organization, discusses educational affairs, children, development assistance, and health care issues. Among other things, I argue for a change in the organization and financing of both education and health care in Iceland. The third part is entitled Peace, defense, democracy, and deals with defense issues at home and abroad, democracy, the Icelandic constitution, war, and peace. The fourth and fifth part, Iceland is indented and Politics, discuss various topical issues such as urban planning in Reykjavík, the rules for allocating parliamentary seats to political parties, and the recent privatization of the banks. In the sixth part, Farm protection, fish, and finance, the focus is turned to agriculture, fisheries management, and public finances. One of the questions discusssed here in the context of the quota system in the Icelandic fisheris is this: Should slaveholders have been compensated for the abolition of slavery? The seventh and eighth part, America and Europe and Africa and the East, spans a wide geographical range, including the United States, Europe, Russia, the Faroe Islands, elephants, Africa, the Arab countries, women, terrorism, Asia, and more. The ninth part is called Energy, trade, and growth. It deals with energy issues, oil as well as hydropower, international trade, and economic growth across countries from different angles. The tenth and last part, Profiles and history, tells stories of people, all kinds of people. The last chapter discusses patriotism, which Icelanders refer to as "love of country." The book ends with about 300 brief biographical sketches of the cast of characters who appear in the essays.

The book is 728 pages. 

The Future Is Another Country

This is my sixth volume of essays in Icelandic. It was published in December 2001 by Iceland University Press. My latest collection of essays, Trade for Gain, came out in 1999. The one before that, High Time, came out in 1995. 

The 42 essays in the new collection are divided into six parts. In the first part, Political Economy and History, the subjects include the future of Reykjavík, different views of the world, the powerlessness of public opinion, and Iceland's history of trade over the past 60 years. The second part, Finance and Productivity, takes up people's attitudes to their own and to other people's money, the financial maturity of nations, money, inflation, unemployment, and the standard of life in Iceland and elsewhere. The third part is entitled The Króna and the Euro. It deals with the exchange rate of the Icelandic króna and its recent substantial depreciation and with different exchange rate regimes, including the current question whether Iceland should discard the króna and adopt the euro instead. In the fourth part, Economic Growth and Education, the main sources of economic growth around the world are discussed, including education. Several chapters explore the relationship between natural resource abundance, education, and economic growth. In the fifth part, To Sea, the focus turns to fisheries and agriculture in the context of other aspects of economic life in Iceland, including education. The case for fishing fees is reviewed. The sixth and last part, Other Countries, spans a wide range. It deals with the new economic geography, France, women, the Middle East, and more. 

The book is 368 pages. 

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Trade for Gain

This is my fifth volume of essays in Icelandic. It was published in September 1999 with Heimskringla, the University Press of Language and Culture, the largest publishing house in Iceland. My latest collection of essays, High Time, came out in 1995.

The 36 essays in the new collection are divided into six parts. The first part is entitled Economists. There Jón Sigurđsson, our independence hero, is portrayed as a free trader and Iceland's first economist.  There is also a long essay on Icelandic economists and their ways of thinking in addition to other material on foreign economists, including Adam Smith. The second part, One Law, deals with the experience of several countries in South-East Asia, South America, and Africa, the point being that the principles of economics are everywhere the same independently of geographical location. Rivers run downstream wherever you are. The title of the third part is A View from the Stands, which provides a further discussion of some Asian countries, especially Hong Kong and Thailand, in addition to Ireland and Sweden, in an attempt to direct the reader's attention to the implications of different economic policy regimes and  of the different pace and pattern of economic reforms in different places, with references here and there to the experience of Iceland. In the fourth part, Education and Culture, which differs somewhat in content and tone from the preceding material, the reader is offered various thoughts on some problems surrounding education in Iceland as well as on the economic and cultural life of the nation. In the fifth part, Land and Sea, the lens is focused on fisheries and agriculture in the context of other aspects of economic life in Iceland and economic growth prospects in the coming century.  This part includes "Nature, power, and growth", which will appear soon also in English, as well as an essay on the "Prospects for liberalization of trade in agriculture", which was published recently in the Journal of World Trade. The sixth and last part, Work, Revolution, and Growth, deals with employment issues, economic reforms, and growth in Iceland and elsewhere.  It includes, among other things, a short piece called "Am I a revolutionary?" The book concludes with about 80 brief biographical sketches of the cast of characters who appear in the essays, from Idi Amin to Oscar Wilde.

The book is 359 pages. 

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To Build a Nation

This small book contains the manuscript of my three television programs that were shown on Icelandic State Television in November 1998, and again in December 1998, when the book also appeared in print in Icelandic. The programs were shown on Faeroese State Television 2005. They were reissued on DVD in 2011 and rebroadcast on Hringbraut, a private TV channel, in 2018.

These programs deal with the history of economic thought in Iceland, during the previous century and our own, by means of a continuing narrative focused on three individuals, Jón Sigurđsson, Einar Benediktsson, and Halldór Laxness.

The first programme is entitled The Trail-blazer, and presents a portrait of the leader of the Icelandic independence struggle, Jón Sigurđsson, known as "President Jón", because he was president of the Copenhagen chapter of the Icelandic Literature Society. He is portrayed as a dedicated proponent of free trade and foreign investment in Iceland: as a champion of liberal economics and Iceland’s first economist. On questions of domestic politics, he was faced with strong opposition, with the result that his leadership and ideas were rejected time and again.

The title of the second program, which deals with the poet Einar Benediktsson, is Captain Courageous. The ideas he advanced for the nation’s economic affairs and progress were a direct continuation of the struggle for freedom led by Jón Sigurđsson, but his views did not win out in the stormy political combat which characterised the early decades of this century. Iceland chose to follow a course quite different from that plotted by Jón Sigurđsson and Einar Benediktsson.

The Critic is the title of the third program. It describes how the author Halldór Laxness responded to the restrictive economic policies followed by the authorities during the 1940s. His arguments for free trade, a more rational agricultural policy, and other economic reforms are described in order to shed light on the economic and social reality in Iceland up until our own times.

A variety of cultural and historical materials are woven into the narrative, including, for instance, details of the personal lives and circumstances of the three men. All of the materials are the result of my own investigations, based on a variety of older and newer sources. Some of the material has already appeared in print. All of the material on Einar Benediktsson, however, is new.

The music accompanying the first program is by Richard Wagner, a contemporary of Jón Sigurđsson. It includes passages from three of his operas: Die Walküre, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Tannhäuser. Die Meistersinger was performed on the stage of the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen in 1872, only four years after its world premiere in Munich. Tannhäuser, which premiered in Germany during the first years Jón Sigurđsson spent in Copenhagen, was shown in Copenhagen in 1875, four years before his death. It is not known whether Jón saw these works on stage.

In the second program all the music is by Jón Leifs. Einar Benediktsson knew Jón Leifs personally. Icelandic folk melodies arranged by Jón were premiered at Einar’s home, Ţrúđvangur, in Reykjavík in 1925, and the collection included the composer’s own original music to Einar’s poem "Rís ţú, unga Íslandsmerki" (Fly high, young Iceland’s symbol). The tune also appears in Iceland Overture by Jón Leifs dating from 1926.

The music in the third program is by Johann Sebastian Bach, the favorite composer of Halldór Laxness. It includes, for example, preludes and fugues from the Das wohltemperierte Klavier and from Die Kunst der Fuge. Halldór Laxness himself played Bach’s keyboard music at home. "When I am asked what single book I would choose to take with me if I had to spend the rest of my life on a desert island, I always answer: Das wohltemperierte Klavier" (Skáldatími, p. 89).

The book is available with or without a videotape containing the three episodes, which take about 40 minutes each. Actor Pálmi Gestsson plays the roles of the three men. Artist Vignir Jóhannsson designed the sets. Karl R. Lilliendahl handled cinematography and Jón Egill Bergţórsson directed the filming. The author of the script, producer, and narrator is Professor Thorvaldur Gylfason.

The book manuscript is available in an English translation by Keneva Kunz. A few copies of the videotape (VHS) with English subtitles are also available for interested foreign viewers. And now, as said above, the film is available commercially on DVD.

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Still Life with Bible
Still Life with Bible
by Vincent van Gogh