The role of pension funds in the financialisation of the Icelandic economy

Francesco Macheda*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the decisive role of pension funds in the neoliberal restructuring of the Icelandic economy, arguing that, through their involvement in the pension-fund industry, the labour unions contributed to laying the foundations for Iceland's economic financialisation. The socioeconomic stability provided by the labour organisations was the crucial element upon which the new financial regime of accumulation relied, enhancing the national economic 'credibility' that helped the internal market to attract foreign speculators as well as gaining access to loans from international market. I begin by examining how the structural crisis of the Icelandic economy produced an explosion of inflation and industrial conflict in the late-1980s. I then retrace the way the implementation of a neo-corporatist pattern enabled lower inflation and stabilisation of the currency. Finally, I analyse the way in which the involvement of the Icelandic trade unions in the financial mechanisms through the pension industry generated a degree of identification with pro-market governmental policy on the part of union leaders, encouraging them to tailor their own strategies accordingly. My conclusion is that Icelandic unions' consensus concerning the 'stabilisation programme' implemented by the neoliberal coalitions relies on their embeddedness into the financial structures of the national economy through occupational pension funds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-473
Number of pages41
JournalCapital and Class
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Pension funds
  • financial expropriation
  • industrial relations
  • political economy
  • trade unions


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