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Credit rating agencies praise Denmark
The government may very well face a backlash from voters for its strict economic policy. However, it is receiving praise from the three credit rating agencies Standard & Poor's, Fitch and Moody's, whose ratings can change the global perception of the Danish economy and Danish interest rates from one day to the next, reports Politiken.
"The Danish economy has many structural strengths. It is versatile, personal incomes are high, and there are robust financial, political and social institutions. A long tradition of sensible financial policy-making is also reflected in relatively low structural unemployment and a stable currency," said Maria Malas-Mroueh, a director in Fitch's sovereign team.
This positive view of the government's economic policy is supported by rating analyst Ivan Morozov from Standard & Poor's.
Morozov cites one of the reasons for the AAA top rating for the Danish economy as the present and former governments' "many years of commitment to financial discipline and growth-oriented macroeconomic policy".
Finally, Moody's emphasises the Danish government's work to increase long-term employment prospects.
Torben M. Andersen, professor of economics at the University of Aarhus and former chairman of the Danish Council of Economic Advisers, believes the rating is of major importance for Denmark.
"We are one of the countries with the greatest control over the situation. The benefit is that our economic policy is not being questioned, which means we can maintain a very low interest rate and are not subject to mistrust and unrest as other countries have been," he said.
Danmark could lose one MEP
When the elections to the European Parliament take place in two years, Denmark could well have one less representative than its current 13 MEPs.
This is being mooted under a new proposal, according to which the EU's largest countries would also have more members. Danish parliamentarians are angry.
“It would be politically grotesque to further cut Denmark’s representation. There aren’t that many of us as it is, and our proportion has grown smaller and smaller over the years. There is a pain threshold, and we’ve already reached it,” Morten Løkkegaard (L) told internet newspaper Altinget.dk.
The proposal, drafted by the British MEP Andrew Duff, is intended to solve the problem that will arise when Croatia joins the EU next summer.
This will raise the election threshold, making it more difficult for parliamentarians in a small country such as Denmark to be elected to the European Parliament.
Economists anticipate interest rate rise
It appears to be the beginning of the end for the Danish mortgage rate bonanza. According to Børsen, several leading economists believe that the central bank will shortly implement a small increase in interest rates due to the weakening of the krone.
The fading status of the krone as an in-demand currency on the financial markets has seen it weaken against the euro in recent weeks. These are sure signs that the thawing-out of the European debt crisis is starting to take effect.
Jan Sørup Nielsen, a senior analyst at Nordea, believes that if the trend continues, the central bank will initially begin making support buys on the currency markets.
"If the pressure continues, this may quickly be followed by a rise in interest rates," he told Børsen.
Others believe that an interest rate increase could even become a reality today.
"We're going to have slightly higher interest rates. If I had my way, they (the central bank, ed.) would raise the borrowing rate and the certificate of deposit rate on Friday morning. The krone isn't as strong as it has been," said Kai Lindberg, chief economist at Lån & Spar.
While there are differences of opinion over the timing of an isolated Danish increase in interest rates, there is agreement that the increases will not be dramatic.
There is still a risk of the crisis flaring up again, which means that interest rates will not go up significantly, explained John Madsen, chief economist at Nykredit.
His colleague at Sydbank, Jacob Graven, agrees:
"It will be a small increase, but it's clear that it could drive up Danish mortgage rates a little," he told Børsen.
Private health schemes a boon
Private health schemes are reducing sickness absence by up to 20 per cent in some industries. This is the finding of a new research project looking at the effects of the preventive health schemes offered by PensionDanmark.
"After one to two years of private health schemes, both short-term and long-term sickness absence in the workplace fall significantly," said Jacob Nielsen Arendt, director of research at the Danish Institute of Governmental Research.
Among other things, private health schemes provide free access to physiotherapy, chiropractic treatment and massage. At the dairy company Arla Foods, this has led to a decrease of 15 per cent in short-term sickness absence and 20 per cent in long-term sickness absence.
For other professional groups such as electricians, metalworkers and plumbers, the fall in sickness absence has been slightly lower. This is because employees of small companies are not making use of their health schemes quite as often. Nevertheless, there is still a clear trend of preventive health schemes reducing sickness absence within the vast majority of professional groups.
World’s cheapest home loans in DK
The interest rates on home loans dropped another notch today.
When Nordea offered the popular adjustable rate mortgages (ARM), the interest on one-year so-called F1 loans fell to a historic low at 0.35 per cent. The three-year interest rate ended at 0.67 per cent.
At Nykredit, interest rates on the five-year ARM were down to 2.21 per cent.
"ARMs are very cheap. They provide a great way to have a low monthly payment, probably for a long time to come," said DR Nyheder's financial expert, Karsten Engmann.
He warned against utilising the low interest rates to acquire more debt. Instead, he recommended that people hold on to any money saved.
"Then, if interest rates rise at some point, you won't be forced out of your home because you cannot pay the interest costs," said Karsten Engmann.
He sees the low interest as a unique opportunity for home owners to secure their home loan expenses for years to come. A fixed-rate 30-year mortgage is available today at 3 per cent interest.