Dutch news in brief, Tuesday 14 October 2008

14th October 2008, Comments 0 comments

Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

14 October 2008

Financial optimism at last
Tuesday papers carry the long awaited financial optimism galore in the Dutch press.

A quartet of euphoric traders beams out from de Volkskrant's front page, alongside the headline "Markets shoot upwards". Other papers take a similar tack: "Markets bounce back!" proclaims NRC Handelsblad. "Markets take courage!" cheers De Telegraaf.

But while the market response to the European-wide financial rescue plan is spreading global cheer, the credit crunch is coming home to roost at local level in the Netherlands, as details emerge of exactly how many Dutch local authorities have invested their surplus millions in Iceland's troubled banks.

"From Amstelveen to Zundert, everyone trusted the Icelandic banks" says Trouw, pointing out that collectively "this could have cost them up to EUR 85 million."

"Everyone" is something of an overstatement: Trouw lists 10 local authorities, though more may emerge once the Interior Ministry has looked into the full extent of the problem.

AD reports that the city of Groningen pulled out its savings just in time because "a member of staff had his doubts about the bank's solvency".

Some commentators are scathing about the local authorities' financial predicament. Trouw's columnist rants: "Government officials making wrong decisions due to stupidity and greed is one thing. But when it comes to public money ... should they really be investing in the barren wastes of Iceland? I'm no expert, but doesn't Dutch public money belong in an account in the Netherlands?"

De Telegraaf complains that "by depositing so many millions in Icelandic accounts and not spreading their risks, these local authorities have been negligent" and warns "On no account must they make the citizens pay the price for this by raising local taxes".

Man linked to Hurwenen murder awakens from coma
Several of today's papers report on a mysterious murder case which has all the ingredients of a first class thriller. As de Volkskrant puts it: "Three murders, one village: the police are baffled". Within the space of a few weeks, three men have been found dead in the little village of Hurwenen, home to a mere 800 souls.

In late September, the bodies of a father and son were found in a burning farmhouse. Both men had been shot. On Saturday evening, a third body was found in a pond near the village.

To add to the suspense, another man found at the scene of the earlier blaze has only just awakened from a coma. Though conscious, he is still in no condition to be interrogated.

According to De Telegraaf, it is this man who may well hold "the key to the drama". The paper refers to rumours that he "is deep in debt to illicit moneylenders."

Several papers feature photographs of the police combing the 1.5 kilometre area between the pond and the burnt-out farmhouse.

Screen potential neighbours is latest trend
Trouw takes a look at the trend towards screening potential tenants before they are allowed to move into a new home. More and more local councils are doing it, but the paper asks "Is it a remedy for trouble or a risky trend?"

The paper looks at the Rotterdam district of Spangen which is "flourishing" thanks to its traffic-light system of screening: red for troublesome tenants, orange for risky prospects and green for those with a clean record.

Potential tenants with an 'orange' status are given a temporary contract for a year. Undesirable behaviour can range from screaming at your neighbours to dealing or using hard drugs.

A district supervisor points out that the system "gives vulnerable districts like Spangen the chance to get back on their feet, but it's not a miracle cure".

Another community worker points out "Refusing to offer people housing is not a solution in itself. You need to solve their problems."

An additional warning comes from privacy expert Geert Munnichs: "More and more often, data is being collected and used for prevention ... If we start registering all kinds of aberrant behaviour; we need to watch out that we don't create a society where such behaviour is not tolerated at all. Are we going to end up with a situation where the only place for someone with a police record is a cabin in the wilderness?"

Job applicants get their act together
As the credit crisis drags on, the papers have started exploring its more frivolous aspects. De Telegraaf talks to a fashion-conscious recruitment expert who believes that hard times mean a glorious comeback for the conservative banker look:

"A neutral tie ... in combination with a dark blue suit appears to be the ideal way to win respect and trust in difficult situations."

He gives the example of Finance Minister Wouter Bos "usually seen with an open collar but now making conscious use of the tie to reinforce his message."

Even job applicants are getting their act together apparently: "Almost everyone is making an effort to look smart these days. When the economy's on a high, some interviewees literally saunter in wearing flip-flops."

In loving memory of the boom economy
The photo on Trouw's front page features a bemused banker gazing at an artwork in London's financial centre. It takes the form of a lamppost awash with floral tributes and notes of condolence. At the top, a sign reads "In loving memory of the boom economy."

[Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica]

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