Report points to banks and weak oversight as key factors in crisis

Rangvid report attempts to point fingers at those responsible for the financial crisis’s effect on Denmark

The Rangvid report, a 500-page look at why the financial crisis hit Denmark so hard, was published today. Professor Jesper Rangvid and his team of academics and financial gurus spent 18 months researching the history and causes of the crisis in Denmark.

While no specific culprit is singled out, several institutions are criticised roundly by the report. The state’s financial watchdog Finanstilsynet was too easy on overheated banks during the run up to the start of the crisis in 2008, said the committee. Some banks went uninspected for years. At the same time the report singles out the oversight group for its early inaction, it praised Finanstilsynet's more aggressive style in recent years and recommend that the reins should be pulled even tighter.

That praise puts the report at odds with banks and members of Venstre and other right-wing parties that say Finanstilsynet is being too tough and its supervision of banks has gotten out of control. 

Banks take a pounding
The banks themselves take their licks in the report. The central bank, Nationalbanken, reported as late as 2008 that Danish banks were in good health despite the national economy being seriously overheated at the time.

The management at several of the banks that collapsed since the crisis began are singled out for intense criticism in the report. The managers are characterised as incompetent and responsible for taking on too many risky investments. Danske Bank is specifically criticised for what the report called “putting itself in such a vulnerable position it could have threatened the entire economy".

While the report is clear that Denmark's size and dependence on the outside world made it inevitable that the country would suffer the Great Recession, it states that the mistakes made cause the effects to be deeper and longer lasting.

Rose-coloured glasses
The low inflation and interest rates directly before the onset of the financial crisis gave banks, authorities and customers a false sense of security, and the complex knot that is the country's financial structure made it hard to recognise that things were going wrong.

Among the recommendations in the report are continuing close oversight by Finanstilsynet, changing the property tax system so that tax rates are matched to housing prices and mandatory classes for anyone appointed to the board of a financial institution.

The Rangvid report concluded that losses to GDP and those incurred by banks and the economy in general during the crisis stand at 400 billion kroner.

Read the entire Rangvid report here (in Danish).

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