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Swiss National Bank expects annual profit of 49 billion francs

5 days ago

SNB building in Bern
According to provisional calculations, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) expects to make a profit of around CHF 49 billion in 2019.
Most of this comes from the rising value of the SNB’s foreign currency positions (+CHF 40 billion) and a valuation gain on gold holdings (+CHF 6.9 billion).
After adjusting reserves, the SNB will have CHF 88 billion available for distribution.
Since the announcement SNB shares have risen 2% to CHF 5,600.
The central bank plans to pay a dividend of CHF 15 per share, a total payment of CHF 1.5 million, representing a yield of 0.3%. CHF 15 per share is the maximum dividend payment the central bank can legally make.
In addition, it will pay CHF 2 billion to the federal government and cantons. The federal government will

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Swiss franc one of only two overvalued currencies

5 days ago

Periodically, the Economist magazine judges the value of currencies based on the prices of Big Macs.

© Rosalie Anareta | Dreamstime.comThis time around the burger price comparison found only two currencies to be overvalued relative to the US dollar: the Norwegian krone and the Swiss franc.

The franc was almost 20% overvalued according to their analysis – click here for chart.

Earlier in the week the US Treasury added Switzerland to its “monitoring list” of trading partners whose currency practices merit close attention.

More on this:Economist article (in English)

For more stories like this on Switzerland follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Swiss pension reform – closing the gender gap

6 days ago

The Swiss government is currently considering how to reform work-related pensions, known as 2nd pillar pensions.

© Viacheslav Iacobchuk | Dreamstime.comPension finances are strained by longer life expectancy and low interest rates.

Another issue is the low work-related pension savings of low earners and part time workers, groups women are far more likely to fall into than men.

In 2017, the median monthly 2nd pillar pension payment for women was CHF 1,221 compared to CHF 2,301 for men.

Another group facing head winds under current pension rules is older job seekers. Employer must make higher pension contributions as workers age. This creates a financial disincentive to hire older workers.

The main reforms items being considered include:

Reducing the minimum pension

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Swiss franc added to US Treasury currency manipulation watchlist

6 days ago

The US Treasury recently added Switzerland to its “monitoring list”. Those on the list are trading partners whose currency practices merit close attention.

 © Kevkhiev Yury | Dreamstime.comThe list includes: China, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Switzerland, and Vietnam.

It is no secret that the Swiss National Bank (SNB) has been actively trying to weaken the Swiss franc.

Switzerland has a large current-account surplus and the SNB has been making big foreign-currency purchases, two hallmarks of currency manipulation.

At the end of September 2019, the SNB had currency positions worth CHF 798 billion on its balance sheet. Much of this will be foreign currency the bank had bought in its attempts to depress the value of the franc.

However, SNB

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Swiss National Bank expects annual profit of 49 billion francs

6 days ago

According to provisional calculations, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) expects to make a profit of around CHF 49 billion in 2019.

SNB building in BernMost of this comes from the rising value of the SNB’s foreign currency positions (+CHF 40 billion) and a valuation gain on gold holdings (+CHF 6.9 billion).

After adjusting reserves, the SNB will have CHF 88 billion available for distribution.

Since the announcement SNB shares have risen 2% to CHF 5,600.

The central bank plans to pay a dividend of CHF 15 per share, a total payment of CHF 1.5 million, representing a yield of 0.3%. CHF 15 per share is the maximum dividend payment the central bank can legally make.

In addition, it will pay CHF 2 billion to the federal government and cantons. The federal government will receive one

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Switzerland is expensive, but not for the reasons most think

13 days ago

Anyone who has done a weekly shop in Germany, France, Italy or Austria and compared prices to Switzerland, knows how much more it costs on the Swiss side of the border. The cost difference is sometimes pinned on the higher take-home pay paid to Swiss supermarket workers. Right? Wrong.
Kaufland Germany much cheaper than Switzerland – © Rene Van Den Berg | Dreamstime.com
The website barometre des prix allows the public to easily compare the prices of goods at Switzerland’s main retailers with counterparts in Germany, France, Austria and Italy.
Big price differences
A price comparison on a basket of 32 food items shows that shopping at Carrefour in France would be 27% cheaper than at Denner, 31% less than at Coop and 32% cheaper than at Migros. Slightly higher savings of 29%, 33% and 34%

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The Swiss-made plane that went global and starred in Hollywood films

15 days ago

In 1939, Pilatus, a small aircraft maintenance company for the Swiss Air Force was founded in Stans in the canton of Nidwalden. By 1944 it had produced its first aircraft: the Pilatus SB-2 Pelican.
Pilatus Porter PC-6 © Pilatus Aircraft Ltd
However, it wasn’t until 1959 that Pilatus really took off with the launch of the Pilatus Porter PC-6. The PC-6 was so good at taking off from short rough runways it was sometimes used as a substitute for helicopters. It was a global hit.
Airlines as far away as Mount Cook Airline in distant New Zealand had a fleet of three of them, which it used to fly climbers and tourists on to New Zealand’s glaciers.
Le News spoke to Wayne Jack, a former PC-6 ski plane pilot at Mount Cook Airline. Jack, who now flies large jet aircraft for Emirates, described the

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Facebook’s Libra has failed, says Switzerland’s president

17 days ago

© Engdao Wichitpunya | Dreamstime.com Facebook’s plan to launch its digital currency Libra is unlikely to succeed Ueli Maurer, Switzerland’s president, told SRF. Maurer doesn’t think central banks will accept the basket of currencies underpinning the cryptocurrency. “The project, in this form, has thus failed” he said. Plans for the digital currency, which is to …

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Swiss government makes it easier to get paid for work done on the train

18 days ago

© Nuvisage | Dreamstime.com From 1 January 2020, it will be much easier for Switzerland’s 38,000 federal government employees to get paid for working on the train, according to the newspaper Tages-Anzeiger. Until the beginning of this year, working on the train on the way to and from work was only rewarded in exceptional instances …

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Running a Swiss business – changes in 2020

19 days ago

© Lovelyday12 | Dreamstime.com Every year brings changes for business owners and managers. In May 2019, a majority of Swiss voters accepted a package of changes to the way companies are taxed known as The Federal Act on Tax Reform and AHV Financing (TRAF). Many of the changes flowing from this begin on 1 January …

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Unemployment in Geneva higher than neighbouring France

19 days ago

In December last year, the Observatoire statistique transfrontalier published unemployment figures for the French region surrounding Geneva.

© Anders Lundstedt | Dreamstime.comFrench unemployment calculations broadly follow the method used by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which includes all available job seekers – ILO definition of unemployment and French definition of unemployment.

Official Swiss figures however include only those registered as unemployed, a lower percentage that excludes those who are available and seeking work but no longer registered. Much of the motivation to register with the unemployment office in Switzerland disappears once an individual has reached the end of their unemployment insurance.

In 2018, Geneva’s official unemployment rate was

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Unemployment in Geneva higher than neighbouring France

19 days ago

© Anders Lundstedt | Dreamstime.com In December last year, the Observatoire statistique transfrontalier published unemployment figures for the French region surrounding Geneva. French unemployment calculations follow the method used by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which include all job seekers, according to Tribune de Genève. Official Swiss numbers only include those registered as unemployed, which …

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Facebook’s Libra has failed, says Switzerland’s president

19 days ago

Facebook’s plan to launch its digital currency Libra is unlikely to succeed Ueli Maurer, Switzerland’s president, told SRF.

© Engdao Wichitpunya | Dreamstime.comMaurer doesn’t think central banks will accept the basket of currencies underpinning the cryptocurrency. “The project, in this form, has thus failed” he said.

Plans for the digital currency, which is to be issued and governed by the Geneva-based Libra Association and requires Swiss regulatory approval, have raised concerns among regulators and politicians related to privacy and its potential to influence monetary policy, according to Reuters.

To reduce the risks associated with digital currencies, Libra is to be backed by assets such as bank deposits and government bonds.

Reuters also reported that officials running

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Swiss government makes it easier to get paid for work done on the train

19 days ago

From 1 January 2020, it will be much easier for Switzerland’s 38,000 federal government employees to get paid for working on the train, according to the newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.

© Nuvisage | Dreamstime.comUntil the beginning of this year, working on the train on the way to and from work was only rewarded in exceptional instances and even then it was only partially counted.

Now federal government staff only require approval from their immediate manager for the time spent to be fully paid.

The change follows a request made in 2018 by the four unions representing federal government workers.

The average Swiss commuter spend 62 minutes a day travelling to and from work, according to Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Office.

More on this:Tages-Anzeiger article  (in German)

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Running a Swiss business – changes in 2020

19 days ago

Every year brings changes for business owners and managers.

© Lovelyday12 | Dreamstime.comIn May 2019, a majority of Swiss voters accepted a package of changes to the way companies are taxed known as The Federal Act on Tax Reform and AHV Financing (TRAF). Many of the changes flowing from this begin on 1 January 2020.

1. Social insurance taxes

Swiss social security taxes have several elements. The first three fund old age pensions (AVS/AHV), disability insurance (AI/IV) and maternity leave and military service (APG/EO-MSE). Rates for the second two remain the same (1.45% and 0.45%) in 2020. As a result of the May 2019 referendum the AVS/AHV rate rises from 8.4% to 8.7%. This means these three taxes together now total 10.55% of salary, of which half is deducted from the gross

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Swiss parliament approves new 6 billion franc fighter jet purchase

25 days ago

Before Christmas, Switzerland’s parliament approved the purchase of a new fleet of fighter jets costing CHF 6 billion, according to RTS.

Existing Swiss Air Force F-18 – © Andrew David Periam | Dreamstime.comThe plan, which aims to defend Swiss airspace beyond 2030, has now been approved by both Switzerland’s upper and lower houses.

Any contract to supply the aircraft will require a foreign supplier to invest in related industries in Switzerland. Some have described this arrangement as a convoluted and questionable form of state aid to particular industries.

The four foreign suppliers being considered are Airbus, Boeing, Dassault and Lockheed-Martin.

Many are against the decision and a referendum is likely in 2020. In 2014, voters rejected a plan to buy Gripen jets from Saab

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Swiss parliament approves new 6 billion franc fighter jet purchase

25 days ago

Existing Swiss Air Force F-18 – © Andrew David Periam | Dreamstime.com
Before Christmas, Switzerland’s parliament approved the purchase of a new fleet of fighter jets costing CHF 6 billion, according to RTS.
The plan, which aims to defend Swiss airspace beyond 2030, has now been approved by both Switzerland’s upper and lower houses.
Any contract to supply the aircraft will require a foreign supplier to invest in related industries in Switzerland. Some have described this arrangement as a convoluted and questionable form of state aid to particular industries.
The four foreign suppliers being considered are Airbus, Boeing, Dassault and Lockheed-Martin.
Many are against the decision and a referendum is likely in 2020. In 2014, voters rejected a plan to buy Gripen

Read More »

Number on welfare in Switzerland falls for first time in 10 years

26 days ago

Neuchâtel – © Adwo | Dreamstime.com
In 2018, the number of people receiving social welfare in Switzerland fell from 278,300, or 3.3% of the population, to 272,700, 3.2% of the population.
The last time the number fell was in 2008 when it dropped from 3.1% (233,500) to 2.9% (222,600) of the population.
The percentage of people on welfare varies significantly by type of household, nationality and canton.
Rates are far higher for single parent households (21%) than families with unmarried parents (7%) or families with married parents (2%). Around 5% of single people were on welfare in 2018.
The low percentage of Swiss citizens (2%) on welfare contrasts with the high rates of those from South America (13%), Asia (12%) and Africa (29%) on social support. The rates

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Number on welfare in Switzerland falls for first time in 10 years

26 days ago

In 2018, the number of people receiving social welfare in Switzerland fell from 278,300, or 3.3% of the population, to 272,700, 3.2% of the population.

Neuchâtel – © Adwo | Dreamstime.comThe last time the number fell was in 2008 when it dropped from 3.1% (233,500) to 2.9% (222,600) of the population.

The percentage of people on welfare varies significantly by type of household, nationality and canton.

Rates are far higher for single parent households (21%) than families with unmarried parents (7%) or families with married parents (2%). Around 5% of single people were on welfare in 2018.

The low percentage of Swiss citizens (2%) on welfare contrasts with the high rates of those from South America (13%), Asia (12%) and Africa (29%) on social support. The rates among nationals

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Switzerland’s high prices – a European comparison

December 22, 2019

© Julija Sapic | Dreamstime.com Recently published data shows how prices compare across Europe. The data, collected by Eurostat, compares prices across a number of categories of spending in 2018. Average prices across the EU-28 are used as a base. Overall, residents of Switzerland spent 59% more on the same items than an average resident …

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Swiss visit doctor less often than most of Europe

December 21, 2019

© Tero Vesalainen | Dreamstime.com In 2017, an average Swiss resident visited a medical professional 4.32 times, according to data recently published by Eurostat. Only residents of Denmark (4.30), Sweden (2.77) and Cyprus (2.09) went to see a doctor less often. The average number of visits across those European countries with 2017 data was 6.84. …

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Switzerland’s high prices – a European comparison

December 19, 2019

Recently published data shows how prices compare across Europe.

© Julija Sapic | Dreamstime.comThe data, collected by Eurostat, compares prices across a number of categories of spending in 2018.

Average prices across the EU-28 are used as a base.

Overall, residents of Switzerland spent 59% more on the same items than an average resident of the EU-28.

Switzerland was 57% more expensive than Italy, 54% more expensive than Germany, 49% more expensive than France, 41% more expensive than Austria and 35% more expensive than the UK.

Compared to the EU-28 average, the biggest price differences were for education (+119%), healthcare (+107%), housing (+72%) and food (+64%) – meat was 128% more expensive, the most expensive on the list.

Switzerland was slightly cheaper in some

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Swiss visit doctor less often than most of Europe

December 19, 2019

In 2017, an average Swiss resident visited a medical professional 4.32 times, according to data recently published by Eurostat.

© Tero Vesalainen | Dreamstime.comOnly residents of Denmark (4.30), Sweden (2.77) and Cyprus (2.09) went to see a doctor less often.

The average number of visits across those European countries with 2017 data was 6.84.

Countries with the highest frequency were Hungary (10.9), Slovakia (10.9), Germany (9.9), Lithuania (9.5) and Liechtenstein (9.0).

Despite Switzerland’s system of compulsory health insurance, for many, visiting a doctor costs money. Up to a certain level, Swiss residents must pay 10% of the cost of medical expenses. In addition, those opting for lower cost insurance with a higher deductible must pay 100% of the cost. This acts as a

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Money for nothing – Swiss government gets paid to borrow

December 12, 2019

© Radomír Režný | Dreamstime.com Imagine borrowing CHF 105,500 but only having to repay CHF 100,000 in 20 years time, including interest. You’d get an interest free loan plus an extra CHF 5,500 to keep. This is what the Swiss federal government will do on 20 December 2019, except it will borrow CHF 196.6 million …

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Money for nothing – Swiss government gets paid to borrow

December 11, 2019

Imagine borrowing CHF 105,500 but only having to repay CHF 100,000 in 20 years time, including interest. You’d get an interest free loan plus an extra CHF 5,500 to keep.

© Radomír Režný | Dreamstime.comThis is what the Swiss federal government will do on 20 December 2019, except it will borrow CHF 196.6 million by issuing zero interest bonds at a price of 105.5%. The government will generate a CHF 10.25 million windfall.

In addition, investors interested in this issue of zero-interest bonds got fewer than they wanted. CHF 329.6 million sought a slice of the CHF 196.6 million issue.

This is the 14th time the Swiss Confederation has managed to issue loss-making bonds since 2010. The first lot were issued in June 2016.

On 2 December 2019, the Swiss Confederation had nearly CHF 61

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Another month of falling prices in Switzerland

December 9, 2019

Fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes are 17% cheaper – © Maksudkr | Dreamstime.com
Swiss prices fell by 0.1% in November 2019, the sixth time in 12 months. But not everything is cheaper.
Prices fell in December 2018 (-0.3%), January 2019 (-0.3), July (-0.5), September (-0.1), October (-0.2%) and November 2019 (-0.1). When combined with the low inflation experienced in the other 6 months the 12-month price drop is -0.1%.
Not everything has gone down in price however. Swiss inflation calculations include price movements across a wide basket of goods and services.
The prices of some things have dropped far more than 0.1% over the last 12 months. Likewise, some things have risen in price.
Prices rose or remained steady for clothing and footwear (+3.3%), housing

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Some Swiss import duties could be axed

December 8, 2019

© Tatsiana Hendzel | Dreamstime.com Swiss import duties on a number of industrial products might disappear if a plan put forward by Guy Parmelin, Switzerland’s economic’s minister, is approved by the National Council, Switzerland’s parliament. The changes are expected to benefit businesses and consumers by around CHF 860 million a year. On the other hand, …

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Switzerland’s skilled worker shortage worsens

December 7, 2019

© Bigapplestock | Dreamstime.com At 30 September 2019, Switzerland had 79,000 job vacancies and 225,000 unemployed workers. This combination of unemployment and job vacancies can largely be explained by two things. The first is frictional unemployment, the period spent in between jobs. This typically increases when there is a lot of job changing. The second …

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Another month of falling prices in Switzerland

December 5, 2019

Swiss prices fell by 0.1% in November 2019, the sixth time in 12 months. But not everything is cheaper.

Fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes are 17% cheaper – © Maksudkr | Dreamstime.comPrices fell in December 2018 (-0.3%), January 2019 (-0.3), July (-0.5), September (-0.1), October (-0.2%) and November 2019 (-0.1). When combined with the low inflation experienced in the other 6 months the 12-month price drop is -0.1%.

Not everything has gone down in price however. Swiss inflation calculations include price movements across a wide basket of goods and services.

The prices of some things have dropped far more than 0.1% over the last 12 months. Likewise, some things have risen in price.

Prices rose or remained steady for clothing and footwear (+3.3%), housing (+0.0%), recreation

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Some Swiss import duties could be axed

December 4, 2019

Swiss import duties on a number of industrial products might disappear if a plan put forward by Guy Parmelin, Switzerland’s economic’s minister, is approved by the National Council, Switzerland’s parliament, according to RTS.

© Tatsiana Hendzel | Dreamstime.comThe changes are expected to benefit businesses and consumers by around CHF 860 million a year. On the other hand, the government will miss out on collecting roughly CHF 500 million a year of revenue from import duties.

Products covered by the plan include cars, clothing, household appliances, bicycles, healthcare products and a number of other industrial products. On average these products attract duty of 1.8%. Clothing is taxed at 4%.

Sophie Michaud-Gigon, a representative of FRC, a consumer association, told RTS that

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