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Danish report
by Euro Reporter
2015-04-07 11:35:19
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Mohammed cartoons editor honoured in Denmark

denm_400The Danish editor who commissioned the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed that sparked international protests was late Thursday awarded a prize by Denmark's national press club. Flemming Rose was the culture editor of daily Jyllands-Posten in 2005 when he published 12 satirical cartoons of the Islamic prophet, triggering deadly protests in some Muslim countries. The cartoons were also published in French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, where Islamist gunmen killed 12 people in January.

"For me, the debate I was drawn into almost 10 years ago by chance... is about tolerance and freedom," Rose said in a speech at the awards ceremony. The decision by the right-wing Jyllands-Posten to publish the caricatures was controversial in Denmark and many journalists criticised Rose for doing it. "I see this as a sign that the debate in Denmark has shifted, but naturally also that the reality has changed," Rose told his own paper. The Danish press club gave him its annual prize for "being a strong and central actor in the international debate about freedom of speech."

Rose, 57, still lives under police protection because of death threats made against him. Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who whipped up outrage across the Muslim world with his 2007 sketch of the Prophet Mohammed as a dog, was last week given a prize by a Danish free speech group viewed by some as being Islamophobic. Vilks last month escaped an attempt on his life when he attended a debate on free speech. A Dane of Palestinian origin fired a series of shots outside the Copenhagen cultural centre that was hosting the event, killing a filmmaker. The gunman later shot dead a Jewish man outside a synagogue before he was killed by police.


Denmark moves to ease banks’ pain as Krone battle takes toll

Denmark’s central bank raised limits on overnight accounts fourfold, easing the pressure from negative rates on banks amid a two-month battle to defend the krone’s peg to the euro. The central bank increased the total amount lenders may hold in current accounts to 145 billion kroner ($21 billion) from 37 billion kroner, it said in a statement today. The Copenhagen-based bank cited high levels of deposits, on which banks are charged 0.75 percent after rates were cut to negative to deter inflows. The current account rate is zero.  The deposits “have increased considerably as a consequence of Denmark’s Nationalbank’s purchase of foreign exchange in the market and the suspension of government bond issuance,” the bank said. The amount lenders hold in deposits has more than tripled since January after Switzerland’s central bank lifted the franc’s peg to the euro, sparking bets on that Denmark would be forced to do the same. While currency flows suggest speculators have now lost their appetite, pressure on the krone is coming from European Central Bank’s bond purchases driving yields down in the euro area, making Danish assets more appealing.

Central bank Governor Lars Rohde said at a press conference Wednesday that the bank has the sufficient means to defend the peg and has the ability for “unlimited” interventions when there’s pressure on the krone to strengthen. Rohde’s job is to target 7.46038 kroner per euro inside a 2.25 percent band. In practice, the bank only tolerates swings up to 0.5 percent. The currency traded around 7.4580 in Copenhagen, local time. Danish investors were primarily responsible for the pressure on the krone in January and February, when the central bank intervened in the currency markets for 275 billion kroner, the bank said today. Two-thirds of the inflow of foreign currencies into the country came from pension funds and other domestic participants, it said. The bank, which has cut rates four times this year to defend the peg, said today the change to the current account limits, which will be effective March 20, won’t affect the transmission of the negative deposit rate to the money market. Record-low rates are helping to boost the economy, the bank said.

The bank raised its economic growth forecasts for this year and next, also citing a weakened krone. Gross domestic product will expand by 2 percent in 2015 and 2.1 percent in 2016, compared with forecasts of 1.7 percent and 2 percent. The bank said it’s watching the housing market where signs of a new bubble are emerging, urging new tax measures to curb price swings. The move to boost the current account limit suggests the central bank is cognizant of the pressure banks have been under from negative rates and that rates aren’t likely to be raised in the near term, Rasmus Gudum, a Copenhagen-based economist at Svenska Handelsbanken AB, said by phone. It shows “that going forward we won’t see the deposit rate going to zero or positive any time soon,” Gudum said. The central bank may raise the limit again later this year, Jens Pedersen, senior analyst at Danske Bank A/S, said in a note. Today’s move benefits only Denmark’s eight largest lenders, and government payments toward the end of 2015 probably will boost banks’ excess liquidity in the krone by 150 billion kroner, to more than 500 billion kroner, he said. Forward rates suggest there’s still considerable appetite for the krone. The 12-month contract was trading at about 7.4098, or about 457 points lower than the spot price. That compares with a spread just under zero before January, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Rohde has cut rates four times since Jan. 15, when the Swiss lifted their cap. In a historic bid to deter stem the krone’s appreciation against the euro, Denmark also suspended sales of government bonds. Rohde has pushed foreign currency reserves to a record high of almost 40 percent of gross domestic product.


Denmark sees record number of divorces

More people got divorced in Denmark in 2014 than in any previous year, figures from Statistics Denmark showed on Tuesday. The 19,435 couples who got divorced in 2014 is the highest single-year number in Danish history. According to Statistics Denmark, the national divorce rate jumped by 23 percent last year when compared to the previous ten-year average. Eighteen out of every 1,000 married people got divorced in 2014. Just two years prior, that number was at 14 out of 1,000. Part of the steep increase is down to law changes that now make it possible to get divorced quickly and easily online. Although the legalities of getting divorced in Denmark are now easier, couples therapist Mette Hinnerskov said that the process itself is still difficult.

“I am offended on behalf of all of those who have been affected by divorce when someone says that it has become too easy to get divorced. By god, it is not easy,” Hinnerskov told public broadcaster DR.  Hinnerskov predicted that divorce rates would continue to rise. “I unfortunately don’t think it will get better. There is a need to reconsider what is expected out of a marriage. People of course know that things won’t be rosy every day, but it is as if it has become too easy to say that one’s partner no longer lives up to one’s own expectations,” she said. For young people, the trend is even worse. The divorce rate for 20 to 29-year-olds was double that of other age groups and young people experienced a sharper increase in the number of divorces after the implementation of the new rules. 

The figures showed that divorces peak in the sixth year of marriage and that around half of all divorces occur within the first ten years. For fans of romance, there was one bit of good news in the new Statistics Denmark figures. The number of marriages in 2014 was up three percent over the year before. 


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