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Everything you need to know to plan the perfect birthday party G8 Flip the paper over for a special news section on Denmark’s EU presidency 6 - 12 January 2012 | Vol 15 Issue 1 Denmark’s only English-language newspaper | SCANPIX NEWS The queen and the prime minister address the nation and receive less than glowing reviews 3 NEWS Cycling fines take big jump Riding no-handed, cycling through a red light, or failing to signal a turn will cost dearly 6 CULTURE Torture allegations reach top brass In a forced cost-cutting move, there will be mass layoffs at the Royal Theatre and fewer productions 7 HISTORY The economic storm cloud’s silver lining JENNIFER BULEY The bricks of Billund Everyone knows Lego, but do you know the story behind the iconic building blocks? 10 Price: 25 DKK Indications that former defence minister was aware that prisoners were being tortured 4 Amidst gloom and doom recession worries, the last days of 2011 served up a few happy surprises G OOD ECONOMIC news was a rare find in the final months of 2011. Nevertheless, there were a few bright spots in Denmark’s economic outlook as we turned the page on the new year. Just before Christmas, Moody’s – one of the world’s top three credit rating agencies – gave Denmark a shiny present: a renewed AAA credit rating. Moody’s praised Denmark for trimming back its early-retirement programme (efterløn) and raising the retirement age (see story on page five). “The government’s top-notch ratings reflect Denmark’s stable macro-economic and political environment and relatively healthy government balance sheet,” the credit agency wrote. But as with most economic prognoses in these uncertain times, the triple-A rating was delivered with a dose of caution. “The generous social welfare system is becoming less affordable following the global economic crisis, as debt to GDP ratios have climbed sharply,” the agency continued. Speaking of interest, foreign investors continued to turn in large numbers to Denmark as a safe spot to park their money while the Eurozone countries ride out the euro storm. Germany’s Financial Times Deutschland newspaper marvelled that Den- mark’s central bank is currently reaping a “premium” to hold investors’ capital, writing that stable Denmark is perceived as a safe haven in the financial storm. While Italy, near the centre of the maelstrom, was selling government bonds at an interest rate of close to seven percent last month, Danish bonds were selling briskly at just 0.03 percent interest, or even at a negative interest rate, meaning that investors are, in effect, paying Denmark to safeguard their cash. In light of the record-low interest rate – and with no expectation of a reversal soon – lenders introduced a record-low 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at just 3.5 percent. Financial analysts predict that consumers could soon see 30-year fixed mortgages at three percent. A brighter, though still turbulent, picture could also be found on the Copen- hagen Stock Exchange one day into 2012. The C20 Index, Denmark’s blue chip stocks, was at its highest level since the beginning of August 2011. Pandora and Carlsberg – companies whose share prices took hard hits in the second half of 2011 – made significant gains in the final days of the year, as did Vestas, which gained big and then lost bigger. Like Pandora last summer, Vestas now faces a reorganisation that may put it back on track. In a new Rambøll/Jyllands-Posten poll, one third of Danish export firms reported softer sales in recent months, but a majority reported no negative change. “That underscores that the crisis is a debt and finance crisis that, so far, has only had a minor effect on the real economy,” Aarhus University business Economy continues on page 3

Copenhagen Post Jan 6-12 2012

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