Norwegian Central Banker is going to save Iceland

Svein Harald Øygard, a Norwegian economist, has been hired as interim governor of the Central Bank of Iceland. The Althingi parliament passed a bill on changes to the bank’s senior management yesterday, making its previous governors redundant.

Svein Harald Øygard

Svein Harald Øygard. Photo:

“This man has extensive experience from Norwegian administration and company consultancy, which should come in handy,” Ólafur Ísleifsson, a lecturer in economy at Reykjavík University, told

One of Øygard’s first tasks will be to attend a meeting with a delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Central Bank’s former governors, Davíd Oddsson and Eiríkur Gudnason, called their employees to a meeting yesterday and thanked them for their cooperation. The attendees applauded the governors before they left the bank for good, Morgunbladid reports.

Gudnason has worked at the Central Bank for 40 years. Oddsson, who is Iceland’s longest-serving prime minister, was appointed to the bank in the fall of 2005.

The third Central Bank governor, Ingimundur Fridriksson, stepped down shortly after receiving a letter from Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir requesting his resignation and has now been offered a position at the Norwegian Central Bank, according to

After Althingi passed the Central Bank bill, it was signed by President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. Then it was published in Stjórnartídindi, the law and ministerial gazette, taking legal effect, enabling a new Central Bank governor to be appointed.

Law professor Sigurdur Líndal told Fréttabladid that he doubts a foreign citizen can be hired to the position, explaining that the constitution states that no one can become a public official in Iceland without holding the Icelandic citizenship.

“I think it is absolutely certain that a governor cannot be appointed to the Central Bank unless he or she is an Icelandic citizen,” Líndal said. “But there is a question of whether a foreign citizen can become acting Central Bank governor.”


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