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Short expiry notice for Swiss banknotes sparks criticism

2 days ago

Last Wednesday, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) announced that old Swiss banknotes would no longer be legal tender from Friday, 30 April 2021. The short notice period has generated complaints and confusion.

© Marekusz | Dreamstime.comThe eighth series of Swiss banknotes did not lose their value, however, they are no longer an accepted means of exchange. The only places they can still be used are at Swiss Rail and Swiss Post until the end of October 2021. They can however be exchanged at SNB cash desks and select branches of some cantonal banks for their full value. There is no time limit on doing this.

Despite there being no time limit, some rushed to SNB cash desks and banks to change notes before the 30 April deadline, and long queues formed outside some bank branches, according to

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Covid: 13,465 new cases in Switzerland this week

6 days ago

This week, saw 13,465 new Covid-19 cases in Switzerland, down 5% from a week before (14,110) continuing the 5% slow down in growth of new numbers experienced last week.

© Andrii Kozlytskyi | Dreamstime.comThe 7-day average is currently 1,924, dipping below the level of 2,000 for the first time since 11 April 2021.

By 30 April 2021, 10.8% of Switzerland’s population was fully vaccinated, up from 9.6% a week earlier. This week, the number of doses administered per 100 people rose from  26.4 to 30.6, leaving Switzerland trailing behind the EU (32.1 per 100), the UK (70.9) and US (70.2).

By the end of this week, Switzerland’s reproduction rate was below 1.00 overall (0.98) with a few hotspots in central and far eastern Switzerland.

Currently, 25% of

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Real Swiss salaries up most in 5 years

6 days ago

On 30 April 2021, Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Office released salary data for 2020 which showed a 1.5% rise in real salaries compared to 2019.

© Suwat Supachavinswad | Dreamstime.comIn 2020, a 0.8% rise in nominal salaries was boosted by inflation of -0.7% bringing the total increase in the real average Swiss salary to 1.5%. The last time salaries rose this much was in 2015 when the real increase was 1.5%.

In both 2015 and 2020 negative inflation of -1.1% and -0.7% significantly boosted nominal increases of +0.4% and +0.8%.

In 2020, the jump in salaries was not uniform across all sectors. In some areas the real salary increase in 2020 was as high as 3.4% (information technology). At the other end, average real salaries in insurance sank by 1.4%.

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Renters charged fees to view apartments in Geneva

8 days ago

Some agencies in Geneva are exploiting the city’s tight property market by charging people money just to view apartments, according to a report by RTS.

© Bogdan Lazar | Dreamstime.comA practice described as parasitic by ASLOCA, a rental association, involves an agency contacting those who have placed adverts for vacant apartments and offering them their services. The agency promises to find tenants at no cost to the advertiser if they take down their advert. It then makes its money by charging prospective tenants fees to view the apartments.

An investigation by RTS found four agencies in Geneva engaged in the practice affecting around 100 advertised apartments. Agents typically target those with a long term lease looking for someone to take it over.

According to ASLOCA, the

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Real Swiss salaries up most in 5 years

8 days ago

On 30 April 2021, Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Office released salary data for 2020 which showed a 1.5% rise in real salaries compared to 2019.

© Suwat Supachavinswad | Dreamstime.comIn 2020, a 0.8% rise in nominal salaries was boosted by inflation of -0.7% bringing the total increase in the real average Swiss salary to 1.5%. The last time salaries rose this much was in 2015 when the real increase was 1.5%.

In both 2015 and 2020 negative inflation of -1.1% and -0.7% significantly boosted nominal increases of +0.4% and +0.8%.

In 2020, the jump in salaries was not uniform across all sectors. In some areas the real salary increase in 2020 was as high as 3.4% (information technology). At the other end, average real salaries in insurance sank by 1.4%. Other sectors with above

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Old Swiss money no longer valid from Friday

9 days ago

From Friday 30 April 2021, old Swiss bank notes will no longer be legal tender. This means they can no longer be used as a valid means of payment.

© Jean-michel Feinen | Dreamstime.comThe notes affected are old 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 1,000 Swiss franc notes.

From 30 April 2021, the only places that will accept these notes are Swiss Rail and Swiss Post, who will accept them until 30 October 2021.

After 30 October 2021, the only places that will accept these notes are the cash desks at the Swiss National Bank (SNB) in Bern and Zurich, which will always exchange old notes for new. 13 bank branches operate cash desks on behalf of the SNB in other cities and towns – click here to see a list (page 3).

The old notes are the eighth series of Swiss money.  The SNB started issuing the

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Covid: the 3 phases of Switzerland’s return to normal

14 days ago

This week, Switzerland’s government set out the three phases of its plan to return to normal at a press conference recorded by RTS.
The first is the protection phase, which we are currently in. This involves vaccinating the vulnerable and could last until the end of May 2021.
The second is the stabilisation phase. This involves vaccinating all adults who want the shot. At this point bars could begin to open and larger events could be allowed with access limited to those who have been vaccinated, recovered or recently tested negative. This phase could last until the end of July 2021.
The third phase, known as the normalisation phase, would involve a gradual wind down of remaining measures as the number of cases declines.
Much of what happens depends on vaccination

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Only 36% of Swiss own their homes

14 days ago

Recently published statistics show that 36% of homes are owned by those who live in them, a rate that falls to 12% in municipalities with more than 100,000 residents.

Lausanne © Ocskay Mark | Dreamstime.comSwiss municipalities with the highest rates of home ownership (37%) have between 10,000 and 15,000 residents, a rate exceeding the smallest municipalities of less than 10,000 residents (31%).

At a cantonal level, the cantons with the lowest rates of home ownership were Geneva (18.1%) and Basel-City (15.8%). These two cantons are both largely urban, where competition for space is high. More sparsely populated cantons with high rates of home ownership include Valais (54.5%), Jura (49.9%), Solothurn (47.3%) and Aargau (47.3%). Vaud (29.8%), Zurich (27.7%) and Bern (38.8%), large

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Health insurers encouraged to use reserves to cut or repay premiums

21 days ago

In 2020, total reserves held by Swiss health insurance companies reached CHF 11.3 billion, a level equivalent to 203% of the minimum required, according to RTS.

© Andrey Popov | Dreamstime.comExcess reserves jumped recently after the government cut the minimum reserve level by one third, part of a move designed to encourage health insurers to align premiums more closely with costs.

The government wants to reduce the chance of insurance companies dipping into reserves to support the commercial side of their businesses and has created new rules to encourage the distribution of excess reserves.

The new rules on reserves will come into force on 1 June 2021 and any possible premium repayments would materialise from 2022.

In Switzerland, healthcare is funded by a mix of taxes and

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Switzerland books a federal deficit of 14 billion francs in 2020

21 days ago

On 14 April 2021, Switzerland’s federal government announced it had spent CHF 14.2 billion more that it had collected in revenue in 2020.

© Marekusz | Dreamstime.comThe loss represents the federal government’s consolidated excess expenditure for the year and is linked to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the statement. An additional CHF 16.8 billion was spent as a result of the pandemic.

Consolidated accounts include the results of companies linked to the confederation and social security payments.

In 2019, the consolidated federal accounts were CHF 11.2 billion in the black, so the 2020 result is CHF 25.4 billion worse than the year before.

More on this:Government press release (in French) – Take a 5 minute French test now

For more stories like this

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Minimum wage hurting young people in Swiss canton

22 days ago

© Kasto80 | Dreamstime.com Around three years ago, the Swiss canton of Jura introduced a minimum wage of CHF 20 an hour (US$ 21.65). Now there is political pressure relook at the move, according to RTS. A group of cantonal parliamentarians from the PDC (CVP) is pushing for a review of the situation in response …

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Minimum wage hurting young people in Swiss canton

22 days ago

Around three years ago, the Swiss canton of Jura introduced a minimum wage of CHF 20 an hour (US$ 21.65). Now there is political pressure relook at the move, according to RTS.

© Kasto80 | Dreamstime.comA group of cantonal parliamentarians from the PDC (CVP) is pushing for a review of the situation in response to pressure from some young people.

The group says that the CHF 20 floor on hourly wages is having a negative effect on the employment prospects of some job seekers, particularly young people in education, and it is demanding changes.

Apart from a few exceptions, companies offering internships and traineeships must pay a minimum of CHF 20 an hour, a level of remuneration that some employers cannot support, said Magali Voillat, a member of Jura’s parliament and the PDC.

In

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Swiss bankruptcies fell by 7 percent in 2020

27 days ago

© Deaconsdocs | Dreamstime.com In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the Swiss economy. GDP fell by 2.9% compared to 2019. However, despite the fall in economic output the number of bankruptcies fell by 6.7% compared to 2019. In addition to a fall in the number of bankruptcies, the sum lost from closed bankruptcies fell 27%, …

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IMF praises Switzerland’s economic response to the pandemic

28 days ago

© Marekusz | Dreamstime.com According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Switzerland has economically navigated the Covid-19 pandemic well so far. In 2020, the Swiss economy shrank by 2.9%, far less than many other advanced European economies. France (-8.2%), Germany (-4.9%), Italy (-8.9%) and the UK (-9.9%) all performed far worse. According to the IMF, …

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Cash makes a comeback in Switzerland during pandemic

28 days ago

At the beginning of the pandemic there were calls to avoid using cash for sanitary reasons. Contactless electronic payment was the recommended method of transacting.

© Maksym Kapliuk | Dreamstime.comLast spring cash withdrawals from cash machines sank by 50% in Switzerland, according to the SIX Group. Across the whole of 2020, cash withdrawals from Swiss cash machines was down 23% and contactless payments were up, according to Le Temps.

However, despite rising cashless payments and reduced use of cash machines, the volume of cash demanded rose, a phenomenon observed in Switzerland and the eurozone. And the trend intensified during the pandemic with the value of euro notes in circulation rising 11% in 2020.

What is going on?

In times of crisis people save more, something that

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France asks Switzerland for help with Covid patients

29 days ago

© Hideko1979 | Dreamstime.com The French region of Bourgogne-Franche Comté has contacted several Swiss cantons and asked them if they would take Covid patients, according to RTS. Jacques Gerber, the minister of health in the canton of Jura told RTS that there had been a request from France to prepare in case French hospitals become …

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IMF praises Switzerland’s economic response to the pandemic

April 8, 2021

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Switzerland has economically navigated the Covid-19 pandemic well so far.

© Marekusz | Dreamstime.comIn 2020, the Swiss economy shrank by 2.9%, far less than many other advanced European economies. France (-8.2%), Germany (-4.9%), Italy (-8.9%) and the UK (-9.9%) all performed far worse.

According to the IMF, the impact of the pandemic in Switzerland was cushioned by solid public and household finances, competitive export industries, a large well-capitalised financial sector, low dependency on contact-intensive sectors, a well-resourced healthcare system and targeted containment measures.

In addition, swift emergency spending exceeding 10% of GDP, which provided targeted support for households and businesses, was crucial to

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Swiss bankruptcies fell by 7% in 2020

April 8, 2021

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the Swiss economy. GDP fell by 2.9% compared to 2019. However, despite the fall in economic output the number of bankruptcies fell by 6.7% compared to 2019.

© Deaconsdocs | Dreamstime.comIn addition to a fall in the number of bankruptcies, the sum lost from closed bankruptcies fell 27%, after adjusting for the CHF 6.5 billion lost from the collapse of the Erb empire, Switzerland’s second largest bankruptcy after Swissair. Rolf Erb, the last CEO of the group, was convicted of fraud and sentenced to prison. However, he died in 2017 before his sentence began, according to Blick.

In 2020, 12,912 bankruptcies were filed in Switzerland, compared to 13,840 in 2019. The last time the number was as low as this was in 2014, when 11,842 filings were made. The

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Inflation accelerates in Switzerland in March

April 2, 2021

During 2020, average annual inflation was –0.7%, according to Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Office (FSO). Since the beginning of 2021 it has begun to rise.

© Vlad Ispas | Dreamstime.comIn January 2021 inflation was 0.1%. In February it rose to 0.2% and it March it was 0.3%. Since the end of 2020, Swiss prices have risen by nearly 0.6% (0.56%).

If the current inflation rate were to continue until the end of the year annual inflation in Switzerland would hit 2.25%.

The sharpest price rises since the end of last year were in transport (+1.58%), housing and energy (+0.53%) and hotels and restaurants (+0.94%).

A big driver of rising transport and energy costs is the rising cost of fuel. Petrol prices rose 9.6%, diesel was up 9.0% and heating oil rose 7.8%. Part of the rise

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Swiss crime down sharply during first wave of pandemic

March 24, 2021

Statistics from Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Office show a dramatic fall in the number of crimes during the first wave of the pandemic in 2020.

© Releon8211 | Dreamstime.comAcross all of 2020, 421,678 crimes were recorded, 2.4% fewer than the year before. Drug crimes (-9%), immigration crimes (-12%) and burglaries (-10%) were all down.

At the same time violent crimes rose 3%, in particular serious acts of violence (+9%), which were driven up by suicide attempts (+22%), rape (+5%) and serious bodily injury (+5%). Vehicle and electric bike thefts both rose by 15% as did threats and violence against public figures and members of the administration (+8%), which reached a record level in 2020.

During the first wave of the pandemic, crime numbers were down sharply. The number of

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Government agrees on laws to tackle high Swiss prices

March 24, 2021

This article was first published on 365 club.ch

Residents of Switzerland have long grumbled about the nation’s high prices compared to neighbouring countries.  On 19 March 2021, the government moved a step closer to removing two of the competitive barriers inflating Swiss prices.

© Ocskay Mark | Dreamstime.comThere are many factors behind Switzerland’s high prices. Chief among them are exclusive import arrangements that allow foreign brand owners to force higher prices on to Switzerland’s consumers and geo-filtering on the internet.

How it worksForeign brand owners strike exclusive deals with a single wholesale importer and force all retailers in Switzerland to buy from that single source at a price fixed by the brand owner and the importer. Swiss retailers sometimes try to get

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Swiss upper house votes to raise pension age for women

March 21, 2021

© Germana Marengo | Dreamstime.com As Switzerland’s population ages the number of people paid state pension is rising relative to the number of workers funding it. Since 2014, more has been paid out than has been paid in. The most effective way to fix this imbalance is to raise the pension age. If the average …

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The invisible lock invented in Switzerland

March 19, 2021

Researchers in Switzerland have developed an invisible lock made of a printed transparent electronic material.

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The transparent touch sensitive material can be placed anywhere, which means, unlike a traditional keypad, making it very difficult for an intruder to even know where to press.

The team at Switzerland’s EMPA research centre is focused on developing thin film photovoltaics. The polymer film has electronic circuits made from conductive metal oxide-based nanoparticle ink printed on it. The printing can be done with a hi-tech inkjet printer.

The material cannot be seen by the human eye and can be positioned anywhere, such as above a door hinge, says Evgeniia Gilshtein, the lead researcher on the project. The circuits can just as easily be positioned on a

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Swiss upper house votes to raise pension age for women

March 19, 2021

As Switzerland’s population ages the number of people paid state pension is rising relative to the number of workers funding it. Since 2014, more has been paid out than has been paid in.

© Germana Marengo | Dreamstime.comThe most effective way to fix this imbalance is to raise the pension age. If the average life expectancy of a retiree is 15 years, then raising the pension age by one year will cut the cost by nearly 7%.

Switzerland is one of a few countries that still has a lower retirement age for women (64) than it does for men (65). So an obvious step towards fixing the pension funding gap caused by an ageing population is align the state pension age to 65 for both men and women.

This week, the government came one step closer to making this change when the Council of States,

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Flu deaths surprisingly rare in Switzerland

March 15, 2021

© Udra11 | Dreamstime.com Sometimes comparisons are drawn between the seasonal flu and Covid-19. But how many die from the seasonal flu in a typical year? According to Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Office, surprisingly few. Over the ten years from 2009 to 2018, an annual average of 1181 people died from the flu in Switzerland, according …

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Farming lobby hurting Swiss chocolate sector, says industry association

March 14, 2021

© Phattha Intharakamhaeng | Dreamstime.com Swiss chocolate sales went into steep decline in 2020, according to ChocoSuisse, Switzerland’s chocolate industry association. The amount of chocolate produced in Switzerland in 2020 was 10% lower than in 2019 and sales revenue was down by 14.5%, a sharp drop. In 2020, Swiss chocolatiers produced around 180,000 tons, 20,000 …

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18% of Swiss hotel and restaurant businesses already closed down

March 12, 2021

A recently published survey run by Gastrosuisse, a hotel and restaurant industry association, suggests that 18.4% of businesses in the sector have already closed down due to the business disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

© Ralf Liebhold | Dreamstime.com18.4% of the businesses polled reported that they had already closed with no plans to reopen.

Without financial aid 23% reported that they will probably disappear. Only 34.9% said that they were certain they would reopen.

Many also reported that they did not qualify for aid. There are certain hurdles that must be cleared to qualify for government support. One is demonstrating that revenues have fallen by at least 40%. 27.4% were unable to demonstrate this. Another requirement is that the business must not have been

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Farming lobby hurting Swiss chocolate sector, says industry association

March 11, 2021

Swiss chocolate sales went into steep decline in 2020, according to ChocoSuisse, Switzerland’s chocolate industry association.

© Phattha Intharakamhaeng | Dreamstime.comThe amount of chocolate produced in Switzerland in 2020 was 10% lower than in 2019 and sales revenue was down by 14.5%, a sharp drop. In 2020, Swiss chocolatiers produced around 180,000 tons, 20,000 tons less than the year before and sales fell by CHF 260 million to CHF 1.53 billion.

The export business, which makes up 70% of sales, was particularly hard hit. The export volume decreased by 11.5% to 126,000 tonnes resulting is a corresponding revenue drop of 13.9%.

The volume of Swiss chocolate in the domestic market, which accounts for 30% of sales, fell by 6.9% and the corresponding sales by 15.1%. Swiss per

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Swiss parliament demands cabinet reopen restaurants and theatres

March 6, 2021

© Tetiana Soares | Dreamstime.com A recent parliamentary vote on whether to issue a formal request to the Federal Council, Switzerland’s executive, to reopen restaurants on 22 March 2021, found a majority of 97 to 90, according to Le Matin. The main parties supporting the demand were the Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP) and the PLR …

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