Cruel summer for Danish economy

A weak employment sector and stagnant economic output has bred scepticism, but there is improvement in some areas

Danske Bank’s chief economist, Steen Bocian, has warned that despite a promising initial financial quarter, the national recession is not out of the woods just yet. An analysis of the first half of 2012 reveals that the economy is still ailing and that Danes have reacted accordingly.

“The key economic figures have produced positive and negative surprises, but unfortunately more of the latter,” Bocian wrote in his analysis.

It all seemed to be going in the right direction just months ago in June when first quarter figures of 2012 indicated a 0.3 percent increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the corresponding quarter of 2011. But it was not enough, according to Bocian, who said that GDP increases of over two percent annually would mark a significant improvement.

“The underlying growth in export and consumer spending was low or negative,” Bocian wrote, according to Børsen newspaper. “The small GDP increase is most likely due to increased warehouse investments, which explains why the improvement failed to positively affect overall growth.”

The first half of 2012 also yielded a sluggish employment sector. Some 3,000 people lost their jobs in the first three months of the year and a rise in redundancies over the last three months, combined with a steady low number of online job advertisements, indicate a dire future.

While before the financial crisis, some 32,000 new jobs could be found on the net on a good month,  July 2012 showed only 15,100 job advertisements, just a couple thousand more than when the labour market was at its worst in 2009/10.

And these developments have had a clear effect on the public. Consumers have sensed the fragile financial environment and have been saving their money instead of spending it. They have even preferred to save rather than pay their debts, and have increased their bank holdings by 27 billion kroner since March.

But fortunately there are bright spots as well. Thanks to Denmark’s solid balance of payments, the month of June produced record profits of 15.3 billion kroner.

“The balance of payment profits is a result of household and public debts being financed domestically,” Bocian wrote. “Because of this, the Danish economy is more balanced and investors have faith in it, regardless of its pitfalls.”

A drop in bankruptcies and a rise in exports, partly due to a struggling euro, also help contribute to a hopeful outlook for the Danish economy.

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