Danish banks in the firing line

An article today in Denmark's Jyllands Posten (you may recognise the name from that little misunderstanding there was a few years ago concerning cartoons and freedom of speech), says that eight Danish banks are at risk when the official organisation responsible for 'this sort of thing', decides if they have enough capital to survive or not.

The eight are on a 'Black List' and earlier this year, when another bank went bust, the official people, while refusing to say who was on the list, said that the banks on the list had loaned out money to a total of 50 billion Danish Kroner. Jyllands Posten reckons the eight they're saying are on the list, have loaned out around 49.9 billion Kroner. So they're saying the list is accurate.

The eight ('otte', if you read/look at the article) banks are:

Vestjysk Bank
Andelskassen JAK Slagelse
Totalbanken
Alm. Brand Bank
FIH Erhvervsbak
Cantobank
Basisbank
Vorbasse Hejnsvig Sparekasse

If you have money ('penge') with any of those, it might be an idea to consider not having money with any of them. Very quickly.

Being on this previously secret list, does mean that the authorities are keeping an eye on you. And that seems to mean forcing you to shape up or ship out. A good thing, you ask me. Inconvenient, if you ask the banks. I can't see their point.

Shaping up, will of course affect customers. The bank may have to slim down, pull in horns, reduce interest, increase interest and generally not provide the service of previous years. Oh dear, how sad, never mind.

I've said many a time, over the breakfast table, over the tea table; there are way too many banks here in Denmark. For a country of a shade over 5 million citizens, around 90 banks is a little too many. Any sensible person could see that, surely? There are some big ones in Denmark; Danske Bank (*spits*), Sydbank (our bank), Nordea (part of a Scandinavian-wide bank), etc. but there are still too many little local banks if you ask me. And while there are safe-guards in place, where the small investor, with a 'normal' amount of money saved, is protected up to a certain amount and they will get compensated if the bank should go bust, the risk of losing your money is still too high.

I have said many times, that there should be some consolidation in the banking sector. Larger banks should be encouraged to buy up the at least some of the smaller banks. Even 50 banks in a country the size of Denmark would be 40 too many in my opinion, but it would mean a sensible amount of consolidation compared to the state of play we have now.

The local towns- and village-people from where the smaller possibly bought-up banks are based, would raise hell. They'd hold meetings, coffee-mornings, go on protest coach-trips to Copenhagen, give their local tv stations a field-day, etc. But if that's the case, don't go bleating about it when your money goes up in smoke, your bank gets folded up into one of the larger ones anyway and your investments – and no doubt only a fraction of what you had saved up – disappear. And don't forget; whatever levels of compensation you do get, has to come from somewhere. From the government, the tax payer – that'll be me, then.

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Joint finances, joint happiness

An interesting article this, from The Guardian this weekend. About how couples organise (or don’t looking at at least one of the examples) their finances, married or not.

A cursory analysis and reading between the lines, would seem to suggest that the happiest solution is joint finances.

We have joint everything. It was clearly the best way to go. Sometimes I earn more, sometimes she does. Wages come in to a Joint Account. A regular amount goes to the Budget Account. We pay all permanent bills from the Budget Account. Savings go from the Joint Account to two Savings Accounts – one to use as and when, one not to touch. Importantly, I think, we pay each of us ‘pocket money’ each month, to Private Accounts. It isn’t a lot, but it is ours’ and one can’t see what the other does with it, if that is felt necessary.

There really are a couple of important issues. Dialogue and trust. And I think I detect a lack of both in most of the examples in the Guardian article. One person must have responsibility for implementing what is discussed and decided by the pair. It’s a waste of both person’s time, if two try and sort the finances out. We’d end up working against each other, or doing double the work, creating double the (possible problems). One must trust the other to sort it. One must trust the other not to deviate from the agreed guidelines.

I take care of everything finance-wise. It’s me that goes in to our on-line account and checks and sorts. But we constantly talk about what we need to do and if (and when) circumstances will permit us to do it. It’s not like we arrange a mutually convenient time, then sit down and hold a board meeting, but more a running dialogue as and when an issue, a problem or an opportunity pops up. Or if nothing is happening.

As the article suggests, things go wrong when one feels they are making a bigger contribution than the other. There is no way that this feeling of resentment can be stopped from affecting the rest of the relationship. But it all comes back to dialogue. Discuss everything so you trust each other.

It’s the Rating Agencies that should be downgraded along with the politicians who respect them

I’ve mentioned my, shall we say, disregard for the Ratings Agencies many times before.

And here’s someone else putting it much better than I ever could. And stating why trying to make out like the Agencies have either any idea of what they’re doing, or can be even remotely trusted, is a waste of time, foolish and in terms of the effect policies made with one eye on Credit Ratings will have on ordinary working people’s future, is – in my words – bordering on the criminal.

Source: The Daily Telegraph. Blogs. Iain Martin.

Banking Cr-Ice-is

Before we all get carried away on yet another wave of extremely attractive sounding plans for revenge on those we have deemed responsible for the banking crisis20121019-205700.jpglet’s remember one thing:
Iceland’s population is (estimated for 2012) 319,575.

There are probably several Icelandic Håndbold players in the Danish leagues, not to say the odd Icelandic football player playing in some foreign league somewhere, who could probably find enough money to pay off their country’s national debt AND compensate all the Icelanders ruined by the banking crisis – down the back of their sofas.

I’d like to see bankers made to pay for their recklessness the same as the next rational, opposable thumbed being. But drawing conclusions for the whole of the western world, from the policies of a country with a population smaller than the eastern Jutland town (Denmark’s second largest) I live in, is stretching it, even for me.

As ridiculous as thinking Vikings wore helmets with horns.

Tax, darling.

We’ve got a new Tax Minister today.

After one of the Danish coalition parties elected themselves a new leader, she decided we needed a new Tax Minister.

The best thing you can say about the new guy, is that he at least looks like he has actually paid some tax.

I’ve no idea how old the previous guy is, but he looks young. Someone, non-Danish and not living in Denmark, might well find out he is, for instance, 28 (I don’t know if he is) and say; “Wait a momento! He’s 28, for goodness’ sake.” But here in Denmark, people think absolutely nothing about being, or knowing someone who is, still a student, never having worked full-time, at 28, 29, 30 or onwards. It is one of the problems with the Danish economy. People come so late into the workplace. Denmark then loses out on their tax payments and they lose out on pension payments – compared to other European countries. And because the Danish economy is currently performing extremely sluggishly in comparison to, for example, its Scandinavian neighbours, and we have to pay the world’s highest tax rates – you cannot argue that there are any benefits, to the economy, from having such a (theoretically) well-educated sector of the workforce.

Like I said, the previous guy was young, actually he was the youngest Danish Minister ever. The new guy is twice as old as him.

Tellingly, you ask me, one member of the public gathered outside when the new ministers were introduced (it’s a Danish tradition), when asked why she’d just said that she thought the new guy would be a success as Tax Minister, said “he’s got experience.” Of paying tax, I’d say she meant.

And, in Danish ‘tax’ is ‘skat’. But ‘skat’ can also be used, maybe understandably, for ‘treasure’. It is also used when you want to call someone ‘darling’.