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Healthcare costs rise further in Switzerland

4 days ago

Statistics published today show a further rise in Swiss healthcare costs.
© Aviahuismanphotography | Dreamstime.com – Click to enlarge
In 2016, spending on healthcare rose by 3.8% reaching over CHF 80 billion, 12.2% of GDP. In 2015, Swiss healthcare spending was equal to 11.9% of GDP.
The challenge of rising healthcare costs is not confined to Switzerland. In the UK in 2015, healthcare costs rose 3.6% to reach 9.9% of GDP.
Switzerland has a system of compulsory private health insurance, however the government and employers covered close to 35% of total Swiss health costs in 2016.
A World Health Organisation study in 2012 found Switzerland to have the highest out of pocket healthcare spending (US$ 2,412).
Across the

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Swiss unemployment at lowest in 3.5 years

5 days ago

Swiss unemployment is at its lowest for 3.5 years, according to the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

© Gpointstudio | Dreamstime.com – Click to enlarge

The last time Swiss unemployment reached March 2018’s level was in October 2014.
After reaching a peak of 3.7% in January 2017, the rate had fallen to 2.9% by March 2018. Unemployment has some seasonality however the rate for last March (2.9%) is low even when compared to March 2016 (3.5%) and March 2017 (3.4%).
As usual French-speaking cantons had unemployment rates well above the 2.9% national average: Neuchâtel (5.3%), Geneva (4.9%), Jura (4.0%) and Vaud (4.11%), while rural German-speaking cantons fared best: Obwalden (0.7%), Nidwalden

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Europe’s most expensive hotels in Geneva, Paris and Zurich

5 days ago

Across the road from Lake Geneva, sits Geneva’s and the world’s most expensive hotel suite. The Hotel President Wilson’s Royal Penthouse Suite is reported to cost $83,500 per night – the price is not listed on the hotel’s website but costs this much according to CNN.
© Tacettin Ulas | Dreamstime.com – Click to enlarge
For most of those planning to visit Geneva, this price is, thankfully, an outlier.
According to a report by the accounting firm PwC, the average nightly cost of a hotel in Geneva was €242.90 in 2017, far less than a night in the Hotel President Wilson’s Royal Penthouse Suite, but still the most expensive city in Europe, far behind Prague (€85.60), the cheapest.
Prize for the second most expensive

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Healthcare costs rise further in Switzerland

6 days ago

Statistics published today show a further rise in Swiss healthcare costs.
© Aviahuismanphotography | Dreamstime.com
In 2016, spending on healthcare rose by 3.8% reaching over CHF 80 billion, 12.2% of GDP. In 2015, Swiss healthcare spending was equal to 11.9% of GDP.
The challenge of rising healthcare costs is not confined to Switzerland. In the UK in 2015, healthcare costs rose 3.6% to reach 9.9% of GDP.
Switzerland has a system of compulsory private health insurance, however the government and employers covered close to 35% of total Swiss health costs in 2016.

A World Health Organisation study in 2012 found Switzerland to have the highest out of pocket healthcare spending (US$ 2,412).
Across the OECD, rising spending is largely driven by new technology, higher expectations, and ageing

Read More »

Swiss unemployment at lowest in 3.5 years

7 days ago

Swiss unemployment is at its lowest for 3.5 years, according to the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).
© Gpointstudio | Dreamstime.com
The last time Swiss unemployment reached March 2018’s level was in October 2014.

After reaching a peak of 3.7% in January 2017, the rate had fallen to 2.9% by March 2018. Unemployment has some seasonality however the rate for last March (2.9%) is low even when compared to March 2016 (3.5%) and March 2017 (3.4%).
As usual French-speaking cantons had unemployment rates well above the 2.9% national average: Neuchâtel (5.3%), Geneva (4.9%), Jura (4.0%) and Vaud (4.11%), while rural German-speaking cantons fared best: Obwalden (0.7%), Nidwalden (1.0%) and Uri (1.0%). Other major urban cantons were in between: Zurich (3.0%) and Basel (3.6%).

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Insurance boss suggests Swiss health insurance deductibles of 10,000 francs

7 days ago

Philomena Colatrella, the CEO of Swiss insurer CSS Insurance, has stirred the lively debate around Switzerland’s rising cost of health insurance by proposing deductibles of CHF 5,000 and CHF 10,000 – deductibles set the amount people pay out of their own pockets before their insurance kicks in.
CSS Versicherung_source Facebook
Colatrella discussed the idea in an interview with Blick. The response to her comments was widely covered by Switzerland’s media, including by the broadcaster RTS.
Compulsory basic health insurance in Switzerland is provided by private companies, but the Swiss government sets most of the rules, including the choice of deductibles. Currently, the highest is CHF 2,500, which comes with a premium discount of up to 70% of the deductible.
In recent years Swiss healthcare

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Insurance boss suggests Swiss health insurance deductibles of 10,000 francs

7 days ago

Philomena Colatrella, the CEO of Swiss insurer CSS Insurance, has stirred the lively debate around Switzerland’s rising cost of health insurance by proposing deductibles of CHF 5,000 and CHF 10,000 – deductibles set the amount people pay out of their own pockets before their insurance kicks in.
– Click to enlarge
Colatrella discussed the idea in an interview with Blick. The response to her comments was widely covered by Switzerland’s media, including by the broadcaster RTS.
Compulsory basic health insurance in Switzerland is provided by private companies, but the Swiss government sets most of the rules, including the choice of deductibles. Currently, the highest is CHF 2,500, which comes with a premium discount

Read More »

Europe’s most expensive hotels in Geneva, Paris and Zurich

8 days ago

Across the road from Lake Geneva, sits Geneva’s and the world’s most expensive hotel suite. The Hotel President Wilson’s Royal Penthouse Suite is reported to cost $83,500 per night – the price is not listed on the hotel’s website but costs this much according to CNN.
© Tacettin Ulas | Dreamstime.com
For most of those planning to visit Geneva, this price is, thankfully, an outlier.
According to a report by the accounting firm PwC, the average nightly cost of a hotel in Geneva was €242.90 in 2017, far less than a night in the Hotel President Wilson’s Royal Penthouse Suite, but still the most expensive city in Europe, far behind Prague (€85.60), the cheapest.
Prize for the second most expensive hotels went to Paris (€231.30), followed by Zurich (€203.90). London (€169.20), in fourth place,

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Swiss welfare recipient made to repay 173,000 francs

9 days ago

In some parts of Switzerland welfare payments are effectively loans that must be repaid when the recipient’s financial situation improves.
© PeJo29 | Dreamstime.com – Click to enlarge
According to the Aargauer Zeitung, a welfare recipient in the commune of Klingnau in the canton of Aargau received a bill of 173,000 francs after he came into some money.
A windfall of 173,000 francs is rare, according to Rolf Walker, head of administration at the commune. Where the money came from in this case was not disclosed, but in some cases it comes from inheritance or a lottery win. The obligation to make repayments lasts 15 years.
The 173,000 franc repayment is equivalent to a tax charge of 2.5% in the commune of 3,400

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“Swissleaks” author arrested in Spain at Switzerland’s request

11 days ago

Hervé Falciani – source: Wikipedia – Click to enlarge
According to Tribune de Genève, Hervé Falciani was arrested in Madrid last week at Switzerland’s request.
In 2008, Falciani a French-Italian who grew up in Monaco, took confidential information from the Geneva offices of HSBC, his employer, and fled to Lebanon where some claim he attempted to sell it. Later he shared the information with authorities in France and sought refuge there in 2009.
The information contained client information, some of which related to money that had not be declared to tax authorities and which eventually led to tax investigations and convictions around the world.
Many see Falciani as a heroic whistleblower. However, Swiss authorities

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Swiss welfare recipient made to repay 173,000 francs

14 days ago

In some parts of Switzerland welfare payments are effectively loans that must be repaid when the recipient’s financial situation improves.
© PeJo29 | Dreamstime.com
According to the Aargauer Zeitung, a welfare recipient in the commune of Klingnau in the canton of Aargau received a bill of 173,000 francs after he came into some money.
A windfall of 173,000 francs is rare, according to Rolf Walker, head of administration at the commune. Where the money came from in this case was not disclosed, but in some cases it comes from inheritance or a lottery win. The obligation to make repayments lasts 15 years.
The 173,000 franc repayment is equivalent to a tax charge of 2.5% in the commune of 3,400 residents, where 48 are on welfare. From 2015 to 2017, Klingnau’s social spending averaged 810,000

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“Swissleaks” author arrested in Spain at Switzerland’s request

14 days ago

According to Tribune de Genève, Hervé Falciani was arrested in Madrid last week at Switzerland’s request.
Hervé Falciani – source: Wikipedia
In 2008, Falciani a French-Italian who grew up in Monaco, took confidential information from the Geneva offices of HSBC, his employer, and fled to Lebanon where some claim he attempted to sell it. Later he shared the information with authorities in France and sought refuge there in 2009.
The information contained client information, some of which related to money that had not be declared to tax authorities and which eventually led to tax investigations and convictions around the world.
Many see Falciani as a heroic whistleblower. However, Swiss authorities consider him a criminal. In 2015, Switzerland’s Federal Penal Tribunal convicted him of

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Poverty in Switzerland – most don’t stay poor for long

14 days ago

In 2016, 7.5% of Switzerland’s population survived on a income below the poverty line, defined as CHF 3,981 a month for a couple with two young children, CHF 3,039 for a couple without children and CHF 2,247 for a single person.
© Inna Blanco | Dreamstime.com
Among the 615,000 people encountering poverty in Switzerland in 2016, 140,000 were working.
Over the four years up to and including 2016, 12.3% of Swiss residents experienced one or more periods of poverty. For most (7.7%) it lasted one year. For 2.5% of the population it lasted for two years, and for 1.2% it lasted three. Only 0.9% experienced poverty for four years or more.

Most at risk of poverty, were foreigners from beyond Europe (36.6%), single parent households (40.3%), the poorly educated (51.1%) and those not working

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The Swiss National Bank owns more A-class Facebook shares than Zuckerberg

20 days ago

At the end of March 2018, the Swiss National Bank (SNB), held 8.93 million A class shares compared to Mark Zuckerberg’s holding of 8.91 million, according to the newspaper Handelszeitung.

© Bumbleedee | Dreamstime.com – Click to enlarge

However, most of Zuckerberg’s shares are B class shares, a class of shares which is not quoted and give the founder control of the business. Zuckerberg holds 393.9 million of these.
Together his A class and B class shares give him a 13.8% stake in the business, valued at around US$ 63 billion1.
The SNB’s stake in Facebook is worth around US$1.4 billion1, a small slice of the SNB’s assets, valued at CHF 843 billion, including CHF 42 billion of gold and CHF 790 billion of foreign

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The Swiss National Bank owns more A-class Facebook shares than Zuckerberg

22 days ago

At the end of March 2018, the Swiss National Bank (SNB), held 8.93 million A class shares compared to Mark Zuckerberg’s holding of 8.91 million, according to the newspaper Handelszeitung.
© Bumbleedee | Dreamstime.com
However, most of Zuckerberg’s shares are B class shares, a class of shares which is not quoted and give the founder control of the business. Zuckerberg holds 393.9 million of these.
Together his A class and B class shares give him a 13.8% stake in the business, valued at around US$ 63 billion1.
The SNB’s stake in Facebook is worth around US$1.4 billion1, a small slice of the SNB’s assets, valued at CHF 843 billion, including CHF 42 billion of gold and CHF 790 billion of foreign currency investments.
2017 was a good year for Switzerland’s central bank and brought a profit of

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Food consumes far less of Swiss budgets than it did 25 years ago

22 days ago

Comparing the most recent statistics on Swiss consumer inflation to those in 1993 reveals a steep drop in the percentage of spending allocated to food.

© Tero Vesalainen | Dreamstime.com – Click to enlarge

When statisticians calculate consumer price rises they look at the prices of a standard basket of goods.
In 1993, food and non-alcoholic beverages made up 14.3% of the value of this standard basket. By 2018, the percentage had fallen to 10.4%, a 27% drop.
The chart below compares the percentages spent on food in 1993 and 2018.
The biggest falls were dairy and eggs (-46%) and meat and fish (-33%). The percentage spent on fruit and vegetables (-26%), bread and cereals (-17%) and non-alcoholic drinks were also

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Food consumes far less of Swiss budgets than it did 25 years ago

24 days ago

Comparing the most recent statistics on Swiss consumer inflation to those in 1993 reveals a steep drop in the percentage of spending allocated to food.
© Tero Vesalainen | Dreamstime.com
When statisticians calculate consumer price rises they look at the prices of a standard basket of goods.
In 1993, food and non-alcoholic beverages made up 14.3% of the value of this standard basket. By 2018, the percentage had fallen to 10.4%, a 27% drop.
The chart below compares the percentages spent on food in 1993 and 2018.

The biggest falls were dairy and eggs (-46%) and meat and fish (-33%). The percentage spent on fruit and vegetables (-26%), bread and cereals (-17%) and non-alcoholic drinks were also down substantially.
Why?
Untangling trends in price and quantities bought is difficult.

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Tax and spend – canton of Geneva generates a surprise budget surplus

25 days ago

When Geneva’s finances make the news it is typically bad. At the end of 2016, the canton had debts of CHF 12.5 billion, equal to 153% of its income. In January 2018, the rating agency Standard and Poors gave Geneva a negative outlook citing risks related to the canton’s poorly funded public pension scheme.

© Sam74100 | Dreamstime.com – Click to enlarge

This time the news is good. The CHF 80 million budget deficit predicted for 2017 turned into a CHF 69 million surplus, CHF 149 million better.
So what happened?
State revenue was 2% higher than predicted. Instead of CHF 8.06 billion, the canton raked in CHF 8.21 billion. Personal taxpayers coughed up CHF 112 million more than expected, partly due to the tax amnesty

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Tax and spend – canton of Geneva generates a surprise budget surplus

27 days ago

When Geneva’s finances make the news it is typically bad. At the end of 2016, the canton had debts of CHF 12.5 billion, equal to 153% of its income. In January 2018, the rating agency Standard and Poors gave Geneva a negative outlook citing risks related to the canton’s poorly funded public pension scheme.
© Sam74100 | Dreamstime.com
This time the news is good. The CHF 80 million budget deficit predicted for 2017 turned into a CHF 69 million surplus, CHF 149 million better.
So what happened?
State revenue was 2% higher than predicted. Instead of CHF 8.06 billion, the canton raked in CHF 8.21 billion. Personal taxpayers coughed up CHF 112 million more than expected, partly due to the tax amnesty offered to those with undeclared assets ahead of the international exchange of banking

Read More »

IMF forecasts 2.25 percent Swiss GDP growth in 2018 while pointing to risks

28 days ago

A boost to investment and net exports from the tailwind of strong external demand, together with faster expansion of household spending owing to rising employment, are forecast to lift GDP growth to around 2¼ percent in 2018, said the IMF in a statement referring to Switzerland issued on 26 March 2018.

© Tibor Ritter | Dreamstime.com – Click to enlarge

On the downside the IMF said: rising international trade tensions could impact Switzerland’s externally-oriented economy. More uncertain geopolitics could rekindle safe-haven inflows, sharply appreciating the franc and eroding competitiveness in less-productive sectors.
Uncertainty regarding long-term Swiss-EU relations could affect cross-border flows. Further

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Maker of the Sniper’s Choice, makes the news – but what is the Swiss company RUAG?

29 days ago

The Swiss company RUAG made the news last week when investigators were called in to look at information relating to the sale of ammunition. But what is this company?
RUAG Ammotec stand at Berlin Airshow 2016 © Sergey Kohl _ Dreamstime.com – Click to enlarge
According to RTS, the investigation revealed contracts for the sale of ammunition to Russia that had not been properly declared, RUAG triggered the investigation itself when a whistle blower reported irregularities and has filed a criminal complaint. The affair involves allegations of fraud and bribery, according to RTS.
What is RUAG?
Wholly owned by the Swiss government, Rüstungs Unternehmen AG’s (RUAG) primary focus is to equip and maintain the technical

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IMF forecasts 2.25% Swiss GDP growth in 2018 while pointing to risks

March 26, 2018

A boost to investment and net exports from the tailwind of strong external demand, together with faster expansion of household spending owing to rising employment, are forecast to lift GDP growth to around 2¼ percent in 2018, said the IMF in a statement referring to Switzerland issued on 26 March 2018.
© Tibor Ritter | Dreamstime.com
On the downside the IMF said: rising international trade tensions could impact Switzerland’s externally-oriented economy. More uncertain geopolitics could rekindle safe-haven inflows, sharply appreciating the franc and eroding competitiveness in less-productive sectors.
Uncertainty regarding long-term Swiss-EU relations could affect cross-border flows. Further delays in meeting international standards on corporate income taxation could reduce Switzerland’s

Read More »

Maker of the Sniper’s Choice, makes the news – but what is the Swiss company RUAG?

March 26, 2018

The Swiss company RUAG made the news last week when investigators were called in to look at information relating to the sale of ammunition. But what is this company?
RUAG Ammotec stand at Berlin Airshow 2016 © Sergey Kohl _ Dreamstime.com
According to RTS, the investigation revealed contracts for the sale of ammunition to Russia that had not been properly declared, RUAG triggered the investigation itself when a whistle blower reported irregularities and has filed a criminal complaint. The affair involves allegations of fraud and bribery, according to RTS.
What is RUAG?
Wholly owned by the Swiss government, Rüstungs Unternehmen AG’s (RUAG) primary focus is to equip and maintain the technical systems of the Swiss Armed Forces.
RUAG SWISS PTM, one of the company’s products, is described as

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Swiss government set to remove ‘mariage tax penalty’

March 26, 2018

In Switzerland, married couples file one combined tax return. Because tax rates rise in line with income it means that second incomes of married couples are taxed at a higher rate than those of single cohabitating ones.
© Tero Vesalainen | Dreamstime.com – Click to enlarge
Those campaigning to have this changed argue that it is unfair and acts as a disincentive for second income earners. In 1984, Switzerland’s Federal Court ruled that this unequal treatment was unconstitutional when the disparity reached a certain level.
This week the Federal Council, Switzerland’s executive, agreed the details of a plan to remove this ‘mariage tax penalty’. The plan will now be presented to parliament.
An estimated 80,000 married

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Raising Switzerland’s retirement age – like death and taxes

March 23, 2018

Last week, State Councillor Peter Hegglin (PDC/CVP) withdrew his motion demanding Switzerland’s retirement age automatically rise with life expectancy.
Retirement-Switzerland_©-Famveldman Dreamstime.com_ – Click to enlarge
He argues that Switzerland urgently needs to find a way to ensure the financial health of its pension system and raising the retirement age is the main way to do this.
Across most of the OECD retirement ages have already been raised to 67. In Switzerland it is 65 for men and 64 for women, despite their longer life expectancy.
Hegglin was not asking for retirement at 67 but rather an automatic increase based on life expectancy to avoid endless political discussions on the subject.
A commission

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Swiss government set to remove ‘mariage tax penalty’

March 22, 2018

In Switzerland, married couples file one combined tax return. Because tax rates rise in line with income it means that second incomes of married couples are taxed at a higher rate than those of single cohabitating ones.
© Tero Vesalainen | Dreamstime.com
Those campaigning to have this changed argue that it is unfair and acts as a disincentive for second income earners. In 1984, Switzerland’s Federal Court ruled that this unequal treatment was unconstitutional when the disparity reached a certain level.
This week the Federal Council, Switzerland’s executive, agreed the details of a plan to remove this ‘mariage tax penalty’. The plan will now be presented to parliament.
An estimated 80,000 married couples are likely to see their tax drop, by several thousand in some cases. The Federal

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Geneva’s mega apartment project now underway – 1,000 apartments and 2,500 jobs

March 22, 2018

Last week, work started on a project to construct 1,000 apartments in Geneva. The project known as the Quartier de l’Etang will unfold over an 11 hectare site in Vernier, not far from Geneva airport.
The video above shows the commencement ceremony and a computer animation of the completed project.
The man behind it, Claude Berda, is a French-Swiss billionaire who started out selling jeans in the corridors of Dauphine University.
Berda bought and combined 15 adjacent plots to create a site large enough for the project.
Described as a town within a town, in addition to 1,000 apartments capable of housing 2,500 people, the complex will have 150,000 square metres of commercial space, a clinic and three hotels.
The

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Switzerland’s parliament rejects plan to cut health insurance discounts

March 21, 2018

Switzerland has a system of compulsory health insurance. Residents must choose an insurer and pay. Those who don’t are automatically signed up and sent a bill.
© Auremar | Dreamstime.com – Click to enlarge
Other than shopping around, choosing a policy with an excess, a sum that must be covered out of your own pocket before the insurance kicks in, is one of the few ways to reduce your premium.
Like much insurance in Switzerland, the government sets many of the rules, including the size of these excesses and the maximum premium discount accompanying them.
Alain Berset, Switzerland’s minister of health, looking for ways to improve health system finances, came up with a plan to reduce the premium discounts for those

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Raising Switzerland’s retirement age – like death and taxes

March 20, 2018

Last week, State Councillor Peter Hegglin (PDC/CVP) withdrew his motion demanding Switzerland’s retirement age automatically rise with life expectancy.
© Famveldman | Dreamstime.com
He argues that Switzerland urgently needs to find a way to ensure the financial health of its pension system and raising the retirement age is the main way to do this.
Across most of the OECD retirement ages have already been raised to 67. In Switzerland it is 65 for men and 64 for women, despite their longer life expectancy.
Hegglin was not asking for retirement at 67 but rather an automatic increase based on life expectancy to avoid endless political discussions on the subject.
A commission looking at Switzerland’s pension challenges came out against Hegglin’s plan because of its inconvenient timing.

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Swiss voters could get to decide on Switzerland’s Winter Olympics bid

March 20, 2018

In October 2017, when Switzerland’s Federal Council announced the government would stand behind Sion’s bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics, it sparked a backlash.
South Korean Winter Olympics 2018_© Zhukovsky _ Dreamstime.com – Click to enlarge
A survey run by Tamedia in February 2018 suggests 59% of the Swiss public are against the bid, according to RTS.
The estimated cost to Swiss taxpayers is close to CHF 1 billion. Other costs, to be borne by the host canton Valais and other cantons, are expected on top of this federal government contribution.
Olympic budgets have a habit of overrunning and some are concerned this bid would be similar. The recent Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang were estimated to cost $3.5 billion –

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