The Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has appointed the CEO of ATP
(the largest pension fund in Denmark) as CEO of Nationalbanken (Danish
Central Bank) Lars Rohde.
Lars Rohde is a candidate of the University of Aarhus, Denmark and has
wide financial experience and an iron grip on theory (I have the scars
to prove it), but more importantly he has a detailed knowledge of the
financial situation and problems of small and medium businesses, not
to mention a personal acquaintance with probably every apartment block
and real estate developer in the country.
A razor sharp mind and a caustic sense of humour that leaves nobody in
doubt as to the credibility and mental capacity of the subject on the
bloc; but also a keen eye for information without regard for social
These last few years he has engaged in the obstacle course of entering
into banking as the buyer of the failed FIH put him on collision
course with the former government and a man known to pick his fights
with care. He carries a vehement grudge against the mortgage banks for
destroying the Danish real estate mortgage bond. The tender feelings
of the major banks for him are easily catalogued.
He thinks before he acts, acts before he talks. Quite a few nervous
breakdowns and tons of embarrassment is to be expected in banking
He is probably the obvious choice to deal with the aftermath of the
The challenges he face are major:
1) The bank inspection is under the Ministry of Business and Growth
which is not liable to be acceptable in view of European developments
where Central Banks have far more direct control over bank
2) Denmark has very little public debt, but huge private debt of
increasingly poor quality.
3) A steady and massive pressure for revaluation of the DKK. The
currency firmly linked to the Euro, but without the benefit of Euro
4) Negative interest on CB deposits AND sovereign bonds of less than
two years of maturity.
5) A banking system in tatters.
It will be interesting to see what conditions he has been able to
secure for his financial pontificate. There have been some, as his
present position is certainly not without influence. During the worst
days of October 2008 ATP was the currency reserves currency reserve as
ATP had considerable amounts of German sovereign bonds that he was
willing to part with – at a price (he smiled afterwards).
ATP has managed to comply with the new standards for pensioners life
expectancy – not unnoticeable on the balance sheet; but without