Denmark’s Finance Minister Explains Economic Deep Freeze

A historic $2 trillion stimulus deal was reached in the U.S., aimed at direct aid for American workers and employers. But it took time to hammer out, and while the White House and lawmakers were haggling, Denmark acted fast putting the country’s economy in deep freeze for three months. Danish Finance Minister Nicolai Wammen joins Christiane to discuss what his government is doing.

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NICOLAI WAMMEN, DANISH FINANCE MINISTER: And we decided to do something that I believe was very crucial, and that was to go big and go fast. To basically say to business and also to the unions, we want to keep as many jobs as possible. We know, unfortunately, that we cannot save every job and we cannot save every company, but we can make a real difference if we act immediately. So, with the help, not only of the government but of all of parliament, all the parties in parliament supported the actions we have taken, which is unprecedented. And also, with what we call the Danish Model, basically working with labor and also, with the employers to make a plan. We did that in two negotiations, which both lasted less than 24 hours, to make sure that help will come fast to those who need it very much right now.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: So, the Danish Model basically essentially freezes the Danish economy. Do you believe that what you did, fast and big and early, has had an effect on people’s behavior? Because then they were able to stay at home and they were able to take, at least, a little bit of comfort in the draconian isolation measures and the ban on going to work.

WAMMEN: What we could do with this plan is to help many families have the safety of knowing that they will receive their pay. I mean, the government, the State of Denmark, will pay a big amount of the salaries for companies who are hugely affected by the consequences of the coronavirus. The company itself will also chip in and the workers will put in five holidays into this agreement. So, basically, in a situation where there is so much uncertainty, where everyone is concerned for obvious reasons, we could say to many, many people who would otherwise have lost their job and their income, we can help you so that you keep your salary. And when we get on the other side of the coronavirus, then they are still very close to their company. They can go back to work. It will be basically plug and play. We know, of course, that the effects of the virus will last for a long time. Also, when we look at the economy. But by doing this, we will make it much easier for both the employers and the employees to get back to work when the chance to do so reopens.

About This Episode EXPAND

Denmark’s Finance Minister joins Christiane to explain what his government is doing to mitigate the current economic crisis. World-renowned Shakespeare expert James Shapiro discusses what we can learn from the playwright in these challenging and uncertain times. Former senators Christopher Dodd and Chuck Hagel tell Michel Martin why they signed an open letter condemning partisanship in the U.S.