Monday , December 6 2021
Home / Swissinfo
Swissinfo

Swissinfo

SWI swissinfo.ch – the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Since 1999, swissinfo.ch has fulfilled the federal government’s mandate to distribute information about Switzerland internationally, supplementing the online offerings of the radio and television stations of the SBC. Today, the international service is directed above all at an international audience interested in Switzerland, as well as at Swiss citizens living abroad.

Articles by Swissinfo

Swiss banks implicated in trading cartel investigation

3 days ago

The EU Commissioner for competition policy, Margrethe Vestager. Keystone / Olivier Hoslet
The European Commission has ended an investigation of five banks, including UBS and Credit Suisse, who colluded in a foreign exchange spot trading cartel.
The total fines announced on Thursday came to €344 million (CHF359 million), with British bank HSBC taking the biggest hit of €174 million.
UBS, Switzerland’s biggest bank, escaped a potential fine of €94 million since it revealed the existence of the cartel, the Commission saidExternal link. Credit Suisse, the only one of the five banks not to cooperate with the procedure, enjoyed no leniency and took a penalty of €83.3 million.
The Commission said foreign exchange traders from the banks “exchanged sensitive information

Read More »

Omicron exposes our pandemic failures

4 days ago

They say a week is a long time in politics – last week we discovered it’s a long time in a pandemic as well. We started the week anxiously watching the rising Covid cases in Europe, and wondering what new restrictions might be heading our way for Christmas.
At the same time here in Geneva journalists were preparing for a special session of the World Health Assembly, swiftly followed by a ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Both meetings were set to be dominated by the pandemic; the WHA’s sole agenda item was a global pandemic treaty aimed at improving our response to disease outbreaks. The WTO was to discuss a proposal from India and South Africa to waive patents on life saving vaccines and treatments.
But waiting in the wings to disrupt

Read More »

Demand for crypto stamp crashes post office’s online shop

8 days ago

A total of 175,000 stamps will be issued, with 65,000 copies of the most common digital design but just 50 of the rarest SwissPost/Gregor Forster
The launch of Swiss Post’s first “crypto” stamp has met with such high demand that the online shop was overwhelmed for several hours.
Sales of the “Swiss Crypto Stamp” started at 6am on Thursday. Demand was very high, which had “temporarily led to technical problems on postshop.ch”, the Swiss Post told the AWP news agency. It said technicians were working on eliminating the last faults.
In recent weeks Swiss Post had been contacted by many interested parties, a spokesperson explained. Swiss Post was naturally pleased with the high demand, he said, “but we didn’t expect it to be so high on the first day”. The launch was

Read More »

Stable income but higher taxes for Swiss households

9 days ago

An average Swiss household spends more than 14% of its gross income on housing and energy. © Keystone/Christian Beutler
The average private household in Switzerland spent about 31% of its income on taxes, social security and health insurance premiums in 2019.
That’s 1% up on the previous year, slightly reducing the individual budget and the chances of setting money aside.
Latest official figures show that the average gross monthly income was CHF9,582 ($10,301) up CHF22 from the previous year.
Net income came to just over CHF6,600 according to a report by the Federal Statistics OfficeExternal link published on Tuesday.
An average Swiss household is made up of 2.1 people. The statistics experts based their income on salaries, bonuses, pensions, social security

Read More »

How Play Suisse made waves among the streamers

10 days ago

The way that the Swiss watch television today has changed a bit since the 1960s. akg-images
In a little over a year Play Suisse, the streaming service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), has become a major player in the Swiss digital landscape, surpassing platforms like Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video. Critic Max Borg looks at the strengths and weaknesses of Play Suisse and its rivals.
To mark the first anniversary of Play Suisse, the SBC, SWI swissinfo.ch’s parent company, last week published user statistics based on internal data and third-party research by Digimonitor, which specialises in surveying the population’s digital habits.
Digimonitor’s most recent study, unveiled at the end of August, showed that Play Suisse, which launched on November 7,

Read More »

Geldcast Update: Lessons from interest rate problems

11 days ago

Fabio Canetg
The Australian central bank is being attacked by the markets and is losing control over interest rates. Something similar happened to the Swiss National Bank in 2015 with the minimum exchange rate for the euro. But what is behind this?
The government should be able to borrow cheaply. That is what the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) promised when the pandemic broke out. It fixed the interest rate on three-year government bonds at 0.1%. Economists call this yield curve control.
It worked without a hitch – until it didn’t. On October 29, investors sold Australian government bonds en masse. To keep interest rates stable, the RBA should have bought these government bonds. But it didn’t. As a result, interest rates rose to over 0.55%.
What exactly happened?

Read More »

Moving up in the world: could you work from home in the Alps?

13 days ago

Idyllic: Crans-Montana Keystone / Laurent Gillieron
During the pandemic, some skiers have been doing just that. But does the romantic vision tally with the reality?
It was in May, while hiking along the forest trails and waterfalls of La Tièche, with views towards the snow-dusted peaks of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, that fitness coach Jessica Z Christensen decided to spend more time in the Swiss mountains.
After a decade of being a digital nomad, the Italian and her Danish-German husband Lars set up the sport and co-working business Mavericks in the ski resort of Crans-Montana. “We felt so lucky to be there, in a year-round adventure playground, and asked ourselves, how can we make a life so we can do this all the time? We were meeting lots of international

Read More »

How the bubble house movement took hold in Switzerland

14 days ago

Futuristic architecture sketches from Pascal Häusermann, 1970. Competition in Cannes, private urban atmosphere. Collection Frac Centre-Val de Loire / Donation Pascal Häusermann
Swiss architects were swept up in the movement to build bubble houses out of concrete and plastic in the 1960s. While the bubble movement burst decades ago, many of the original structures are still standing to this day.
Need more space? Why not just build an extra room on the side of your flat? Fifty years ago, a Geneva architect turned this dream of many tenants into reality in a radical way. In the late 1970s, 23-year-old Marcel Lachat and his wife were expecting a child, but there weren’t any bigger flats available on the market. Lachat came up with a way to solve the problem: build an

Read More »

How the pandemic has widened inequalities in Swiss watchmaking

15 days ago

Audemars Piguet is one of four independent brands that dominate the global luxury watch market. Thomas Kern
Driven by strong Chinese demand, Swiss watchmaking is recovering after suffering one of its biggest economic shocks in 2020. But the crisis has further widened the gap between the few brands that take the lion’s share of the profits and the rest of the industry.

My specialty is telling stories, and decoding what happens in Switzerland and the world from accumulated data and statistics. An expatriate in Switzerland for several years, I have also worked as a multimedia journalist for the Swiss national broadcaster.
More from this author
| French Department

A global lockdown, international tourism at a standstill, shops closed – the coronavirus has dealt

Read More »

Swiss government moots international monetary assistance

17 days ago

Switzerland joined the IMF in 1992 and is one of 24 members of the International Monetary and Financial Committee IMFC (Archive picture) Keystone/Stephen Jaffe/Handout
The government seeks to renew its policy to support assistance measures by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
It asked parliament to approve plans to continue international monetary cooperation to the tune of CHF10 billion ($10.8 billion) by 2028.
The existing legal basis expires in April 2023, according to officials.
The government also agreed to a further financial contribution of CHF50 million to the IMF’s poverty reduction trust and CHF7.5 million to the IMF’s debt relief for Sudan.
“Global financial stability is especially important to Switzerland as an internationally highly interconnected

Read More »

Call to tap potential of professional working women

19 days ago

Six out of ten women lawyers in Switzerland work part-time. Keystone / Anthony Anex
Women make up half of the highly skilled workforce in Switzerland, but work fewer hours, according to a study published on Tuesday. One in three would like to work more, under certain conditions.
Women often opt for part-time work, and the liberal professions are no exception, says the studyExternal link carried out by the Sotomo Institute for the Swiss Union of Liberal Professions (USPL).
In 2019, 29% of Swiss women aged 25-64 had a university degree or professional qualification; the figure stood at 30% for men. But only 40% of hours of work were completed by women.
The survey asked 6,000 professional men and women with university degrees, such as doctors, architects, lawyers and

Read More »

Multinationals and the mirage of paying their fair share of tax

22 days ago

Jessica Davis Pluess
Companies come to Switzerland for tax reasons all the time. Should that be illegal?
It’s fairly common to find companies that are “based” in Switzerland but do very little business in the country. These aren’t shell or letterbox companies in many cases. They have real people, in real offices but what they do here is miniscule compared to their activities outside the country.
A couple weeks ago, the NGO Bread for All reportedExternal link on such a company – the agribusiness firm Socfin. The holding company is registered in Luxembourg but in 2010, the group’s management and several subsidiaries were established in Switzerland – for tax reasons, writes the NGO.
The group’s core business takes place far away – developing tropical oil palm and

Read More »

Google admits defeat in disputed Swiss cloud tender

23 days ago

US technology giant Google argued that it had the capabilities to offer the cloud data services to Switzerland. Keystone / Bernd Von Jutrczenka
The Swiss federal authorities can proceed with awarding a cloud computing contract to five US and Chinese companies, including Amazon, Microsoft and Alibaba, after Google dropped an appeal against the decision to leave it out of the project.
“The appeal lodged within the framework of the procedure having been withdrawn, the work can resume,” the Federal Chancellery said in a statementExternal link on Wednesday.
Google had appealed in July against the government’s decision the previous month to name US companies Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle, and Chinese firm Alibaba, as winning candidates to create a cloud-storage

Read More »

Geneva-Lausanne train link remains suspended

24 days ago

The holes were caused by tunneling work under the tracks carried out by a private company, which was working on a thermal energy project using water from Lake Geneva to heat an industrial zone not far from the train line. Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott
The main rail link between Geneva and Lausanne in southwestern Switzerland will not re-open until Friday morning, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB/CFF) has confirmed. The line has been suspended since Tuesday after land collapsed near the tracks.
Holes that appeared between tracks at Tolochenaz, near Morges in canton Vaud, on Tuesday still require major work, which is proving more complicated than expected, the Federal Railways said.
Two holes were caused by tunneling work under the tracks carried out by a private

Read More »

American farmers pursue Syngenta over herbicide’s link to Parkinson’s disease

25 days ago

Paraquat has been sold in the US since the 1960s and through acquisitions, mergers and spin-offs it ended up in Syngenta’s product portfolio. Keystone / Charlie Neibergall
The Swiss-based multinational has already set aside $187.5 million (CHF 171 million) to settle legal cases filed by farmers exposed to paraquat. But the total bill could run into billions as lawsuits pile up.
American farmer Doug Holliday has helped feed the nation for decades, growing corn and soybeans and raising cattle on thousands of acres of land outside Greenfield, a rural city of some 2,000 people in the midwestern state of Iowa.
Married with two children, Holliday was hoping that at 59 he’d be counting down to a quiet retirement with his wife, having downsized his farm to a 450-acre

Read More »

Cleaning up Switzerland’s toxic legacy

27 days ago

In July 2021, the chemical firm Lonza said it would start its ten-year clean-up of the hazardous waste landfill site at Gamsenried, canton Valais, from 2023-2024. The site was used by Lonza to deposit its production residues from 1918 to 1978. This photo was taken in 1987. Keystone
The widespread dioxin pollution uncovered in Lausanne has surprised many and raised concerns about the health consequences, clean-up costs and extent of the problem. The small Alpine nation may be well known for its stunning natural beauty, but thousands of sites contaminated with various other pollutants still need remediation.
Last month the Lausanne authorities announced that much of the soil in the centre of the western Swiss city is contaminated with dioxin. The cause: an old waste

Read More »

Besançon: French watchmaking capital takes on Swiss neighbours

28 days ago

Part of the astronomical clock at the Cathédrale Saint-Jean de Besançon Philip Bird / Alamy Stock Photo
Just a short hop from the Swiss border, the walled city of Besançon is a showcase of centuries of French watchmaking knowhow.
Within its labyrinth of pristine streets are many secret courtyards, where, behind imposing doors, independent watchmakers carry forward its best-known traditions in what is considered France’s capital of watches.
The city’s biggest timekeeping attractions – the Musée du Temps, the Besançon Astronomical Observatory, and its most famous object, the astronomical clock at the Cathédrale Saint-Jean de Besançon – bring in visitors in search of its story.
The astronomical clock has 30,000 elements. Keeping the time in more than a dozen places

Read More »

Swiss energy bills contained, but future crunch looms

November 6, 2021

As energy prices rocket, the meter is ticking on Switzerland’s future electricity security. © Keystone / Christian Beutler
Households and businesses across Europe are facing a huge rise in electricity and heating costs this winter. Price hikes in Switzerland have so far been comparatively cushioned, but there are warnings of a potential energy crunch in the next few years.

My specialty is telling stories, and decoding what happens in Switzerland and the world from accumulated data and statistics. An expatriate in Switzerland for several years, I have also worked as a multimedia journalist for the Swiss national broadcaster.
More from this author
| French Department

The recent surge in oil, gas and electricity prices has been blamed on multiple factors:

Read More »

Geldcast Update: Monetary policy and the climate crisis

November 5, 2021

Fabio Canetg completed his doctorate in monetary policy at the University of Bern and the Toulouse School of Economics. Today he is a lecturer at the University of Bern and hosts the monetary policy podcast “Geldcast”. swissinfo.ch
For years, central banks have been called upon to do more to combat climate change. Now a new monetary policy instrument is being discussed as a way forward.
The climate strike is back: Last week, thousands of people demonstrated in Bern for a more ambitious climate policy. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) also has a role in this: it should also contribute to the fight against climate change, according to the climate strikers. In Europe, similar demands are being made of the European Central Bank (ECB).
But what exactly could central banks

Read More »

Credit Suisse to shrink investment bank

November 4, 2021

Keystone / Urs Flueeler
The Credit Suisse Group says it will shrink its investment bank and shift more resources to the wealth management unit.
It is part of a restructuring plan intended to draw a line under a tumultuous year in which it was rocked by the Archegos Capital Management and Greensill scandals.
The Zurich-based bank is exiting most of its prime services business after the implosion of Archegos and shifting about $3 billion of capital from the investment bank to wealth management, according to a CS statement on Thursday. The bank is also re-organizing into four divisions and said that it will create a single wealth management unit.
According to the Bloomberg financial news agency, chairman Antonio Horta-Osorio has spent the past six months conducting

Read More »

COP26: rich Switzerland must take on more responsibility

November 2, 2021

Switzerland has enough money and technology to drastically reduce emissions and become a leader in international climate negotiations. But it needs to be more ambitious, says Ludwig Luz, president of the Swiss Youth for Climate group.
This year’s UN climate conference (COP26) in Glasgow is the most important since COP21 in Paris in 2015. The latest IPCC publicationExternal link offers a dire outlook. Scientists do not contest climate change and the need to act fast: in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius – the increasingly aspirational goal of the Paris Agreement – global emissions must be halved by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
The Paris Agreement requires its parties (i.e. almost all of the world’s national governments) to submit so-called

Read More »

Swiss companies face severe supply chain bottlenecks

October 25, 2021

Goods are being delayed in container ports in many parts of the world. Keystone / Neil Hall
Four out of five firms surveyed by the Swiss Business Federation (economiesuisse) have complained of problems in getting hold of raw materials and essential parts for their goods.
The cost of the worsening supply chain conditions is starting to be passed on to consumers. Some companies are looking into putting staff on shortened hours with economiesuisse warning that the situation could have negative consequences for the economy as a whole.
In its survey, economiesuisse received feedback from 237 companies and industry groups. The vast majority (80%) said that port logjams and closures in many parts of the world are creating a headache for their businesses.
In addition to

Read More »

Mozambique watchdog wants $2 bln debt relief from ‘guilty’ Credit Suisse

October 24, 2021

The Swiss bank has been fined over CHF400 million for its role in a corruption scandal in Mozambique. Keystone / Ennio Leanza
A Mozambique public finance watchdog is demanding an estimated $2 billion (CHF1.8 billion) in full debt relief from Credit Suisse, that is ten times more than what Swiss banking giant is willing to write off.
“Credit Suisse’s admission of responsibility, failure to comply with the law (…) and involvement of employees in bribery underscores the legitimacy of FMO’s demand for full cancellation of the illegal debt,” said the Budget Monitoring Forum (FMO), a coalition of civil society groups working on public finance accountability.
The statement was made in response to a settlement reached by the Swiss bank with regulators in several

Read More »

What’s the real problem in our supply chains?

October 22, 2021

Containers are piling up at ports, ships are waiting to offload cargo and store shelves are sitting empty. Are all the quick fixes enough to fix the real problems in our supply chains?
Headlines over the past few weeks about our global supply chain woes are enough to make anyone start stocking up on toilet paper and other essentials (again!). Goods from steel and lumber to toys, bicycles, and semiconductors are all facing delivery delays and higher prices, causing some panic ahead of the holiday shopping season.
Landlocked Switzerland is keeping its cool in the face of rising concern. Ikea Switzerland said it is streamlining its productExternal link line in response to supply bottlenecks. A bicycle companyExternal link is waiting on frames ordered months ago.

Read More »

Swiss entities aim to be green pioneers

October 21, 2021

PostBus is among the new participants in this initiative to reduce energy consumption and make it renewable. The Swiss Broadcasting company SRF has also joined. Keystone / Gian Ehrenzeller
Some government departments and 13 other Swiss entities have signed a pact to increase energy efficiency, expand renewable energies and make their investments “climate compatible”.
The initiative contributes to implementing Switzerland’s Energy Strategy 2050 and achieving a net zero climate target by 2050, the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) said on TuesdayExternal link. Environment Minister Simonetta Sommaruga and Defence Minister Viola Amherd joined the other participants at Thun military training ground to sign a memorandum of understanding that commits them to

Read More »

Swiss companies told to brace for electricity shortages

October 19, 2021

An electricity agreement between Switzerland and the European Union has been on hold since 2018. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
The Swiss government has shared its vision for coping with major power outages in a brochure shared with thousands of companies, the weekly NZZ am Sonntag reported on Sunday. In the absence of an electricity agreement with the European Union, such a scenario is likely if large power plants fail in Switzerland or abroad.
Swiss companies could be ordered to reduce their electricity consumption by a specific percentage in the event of a shortage, the government warns in the brochure sent to 30,000 firms.
The first measure the government would take to counter such a situation is to urge the population to tone down its electricity consumption. The

Read More »

Switzerland ‘not at risk of truck driver shortage’

October 18, 2021

The United Kingdom and the European Union are grappling with truck diver shortages that complicate economic recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic. Keystone / Joe Giddens
Unlike other Western European nations, Switzerland is not at risk of a supply chain crisis due to a lack of truck drivers, according to the president of a major logistics and transport company.
“The situation in Switzerland is significantly better than in the rest of Europe,” Rolf Galliker, president of Galliker transport AG told the German-language weekly SonntagsBlick in an interview published on Sunday.
“We have done our homework. Switzerland certainly does not have to fear supply shortages,” said the 56-year-old chairman of the company’s board of directors. He notes that many drivers will

Read More »

Covid: Swiss private banks ‘got off relatively lightly’

October 17, 2021

Swiss private banks increased their assets under management to almost CHF3 trillion last year © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
Swiss private banks managed to increase their assets under management to CHF2.9 trillion ($3.15 trillion) last year, an increase of 2.8% on 2019.
“The year 2020 was dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, yet the Swiss private banking sector still got off relatively lightly compared to other industries,” consultancy firm PwC said in its Private Banking Market Update 2021, published on Thursday.
“Thanks to the quick recovery of global markets, Swiss private banks could broadly sustain their assets under management (AuM) base and, as such, worse consequences could be prevented.”
The largest inflows of net new money were recorded by the larger private

Read More »

Switzerland could face electricity shortage by March

October 17, 2021

Under an extreme scenario, Switzerland’s electricity supply could be interrupted for up to 500 hours © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
If progress is not made on an electricity agreement with the European Union, at least at a technical level, Switzerland is likely to face a significant problem guaranteeing electricity in the short and medium term, especially in winter.
This is the conclusion of an external report on supply security, presented to the government on Wednesday. The report examined the consequences of three scenarios: completely renouncing cooperation with the EU, reaching at least technical agreements with neighbouring countries, and doing an electricity deal with the EU.
In the worst-case situation (no cooperation), the situation would become critical by

Read More »

Qatar’s Quintet bank closes shop in Switzerland

October 16, 2021

The bank is situated at Zurich’s prestigious Bahnhofstrasse. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
Quintet Private Bank says it is closing its Swiss arm just 16 months after opening. The Qatari-owned private bank took over Bank am Bellevue last year.
The Luxembourg-based private bank is closing its Swiss business, which employs 87 people, according to a statement on Tuesday. It is unclear whether the closure will happen via a wind-down or sale.
The private bank, which opened in May 2020, was affected by the pandemic and was unable to build its business up as fast as anticipated, the statement said.
“Establishing a path to profitability would take longer than anticipated,” the group’s CEO Jakob Stott said in the statement.
Millions in losses
The 87 staff are currently in a

Read More »