Denmark’s state wealth expands despite pandemic

The Danish state fortune has grown considerably since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Denmark's state wealth expands despite pandemic
File photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

The last quarter of last year saw the Danish state increase its fortune from 107.3 to 253.3 billion kroner, the largest ever increase to national wealth by that measure, according to new figures released by Statistics Denmark.

The increase can primarily be credited to an increase in value of 77 billion in the state’s shares in energy company Ørsted, news wire Ritzau writes.

Over half of the company is owned by the Danish state. Ørsted saw a large increase in the value of its shares in 2020, with prices going up by around 80 percent.

Denmark’s state fortune is comprised of shares, bonds and money in the country’s central bank, minus state debt.

Statistics Denmark figures also show the status of public finances in Denmark outside of the national fortune.

In 2020, state spending resulted in a loss of 26.7 billion kroner. That is the largest loss since 27.1 billion kroner in 2015.

The loss was largest in the fourth quarter of the year, reflecting heavy spending on compensation packages for businesses and wage earners during coronavirus closures.

Denmark’s public finances have, despite the loss, made a good fist at limiting the damage inflicting in 2020, according to an expert from the Danish Chamber of Commerce.

“We’ve seen record progress with the net national fortune and the loss on the public spending account ended on a modest 26.7 billion kroner,” Tore Stramer, the organisation’s senior economist, told Ritzau.

“That is very good news and shows that public finances have in no way suffered long-term damage as a result of the coronavirus crisis. That state still has enough financial muscle to contend with the crisis,” Stramer said.

“The corona crisis has in no way left a bill that needs to be paid in the form of increased taxes or lower public spending. That is very important and will boost the Danish economy’s growth potential after the coronavirus crisis (is over),” he added.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s economy hardest-hit since global economic crisis but worst may be over

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‘We agree to disagree’: Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

By lunchtime on Friday, talks between the Scandinavian airline SAS and unions representing striking pilots were still stuck on "difficult issues".

'We agree to disagree': Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

“We agree that we disagree,” Roger Klokset, from the Norwegian pilots’ union, said at lunchtime outside the headquarters of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise in Stockholm, where talks are taking place. “We are still working to find a solution, and so long as there is still some point in continuing negotiations, we will do that.” 

Mats Ruland, a mediator for the Norwegian government, said that there were “still several difficult issues which need to be solved”. 

At 1pm on Friday, the two sides took a short break from the talks for lunch, after starting at 9am. On Thursday, they negotiated for 15 hours, breaking off at 1am on Friday morning. 

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on the SAS plane strike?

Marianne Hernæs, SAS’s negotiator on Friday told journalists she was tired after sitting at the negotiating table long into the night. 

“We need to find a model where we can meet in the middle and which can ensure that we pull in the income that we are dependent on,” she said. 

Klokset said that there was “a good atmosphere” in the talks, and that the unions were sticking together to represent their members.

“I think we’ve been extremely flexible so far. It’s ‘out of this world’,’ said Henrik Thyregod, with the Danish pilots’ union. 

“This could have been solved back in December if SAS had not made unreasonable demands on the pilots,” Klokset added. 

The strike, which is now in its 12th day, has cost SAS up to 130m kronor a day, with 2,550 flights cancelled by Thursday, affecting 270,000 passengers.