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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.
Banks grab social security
Danish banks have a tendency to set customer debt off from state transfer payments, a particular burden for those on social security who already have very little to live off, according to Berlingske.
According to the report, Copenhagen Council receives many complaints from frustrated recipients who have difficulty in making ends meet.
“People call us and say they have nothing to live off as the bank has taken their money,” Niels Bauer of the Transport Payment Service tells Berlingske.
Although he is unable to say exactly how many people are affected, he suggests the malpractice probably affects many of the 22,000 people currently on Copenhagen Council social security.
The council does attempt to help people in various ways. Either through a dialogue with the bank or by paying social security as a cheque, or to a bank other than the one in which the recipient has debts.
The Danish Financial Supervisory Authority has confirmed that it is aware of the problem of banks grabbing social security payments, and the authority now plans to act.
“If the bank takes all of the social security, that is illegal. People must have something to live off. We are very aware of the problem and have studied some of the banks’ methods and can see that there is a need for universal instructions,” says FSA Department Head Anette Bjåland Andersen.
Bjåland says she will be contacting the bankers association in order to find a solution to the problem.
DKK 330mn jobs package for unemployed
Over 2012 and 2013 more than 330 million Danish kroner will be allocated to help the thousands of people who face losing their unemployment benefit in the new year, DR Nyheder has learned.
The details of the emergency package, which has been developed by Minister for Employment Mette Frederiksen, will be negotiated tomorrow by labour market parties, the government, the municipalities and unemployment funds. Yet it seems that there is already a consensus on the major elements.
The funds will go towards expanding the job rotation scheme in order to get more unemployed people into work. Money will also be allocated for jobs with wage subsidy.
All those who face being taken out of the unemployment benefit system will also be invited to interviews. These are likely to be two interviews with the job centre and unemployment funds.
According to DR Nyheder's sources, unemployed people will be entitled to a job adviser who can match them to the right jobs.
The financing for the emergency package will mainly come from reserves and new funds. Although DR Nyheder can reveal that a small amount will come from youth packages and education promises.
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