One of the arguments for the 5 June referendum is that jobs are being increasingly lost to machines and robots, making a guaranteed income for all the best way of tackling what could soon be a paramount problem for society. Among events organised by the sponsors have been demonstrations with protesters dressed as robots. The backers of next month’s referendum on a guaranteed basic income seem to prefer stunts and gimmicks to honest discussion on the future of the Swiss welfare state.
A closer look at the text of the proposed sovereign money initiative is revealing: what its supporters are really after is the abolition of the capitalist banking system. As their promise of greater stability really cannot be met, this “reform” would at least make Lenin smile.
The 100,000 valid signatures required have been gathered for a referendum on the so called Vollgeld Initiative. The backers of the scheme for “sovereign money” (which envisages money being created by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) exclusively, rather than also by commercial banks leveraging deposits via loans, ed), claim it would eliminate financial crises. But it takes more than just controlling the creation of money to avoid such pitfalls, argues Rudolf Walser, in the first of two separate, but connected, blogs.
The latest Swiss Labour Force Survey draws a clear picture on the issue of older workers. Today they stay on the job for a longer time than they did just a decade ago. Generally, it would be good if discussion concentrated on measures to help reintegrate unemployed older people into the labour market: too often, political debate is focused on those already in work.
The biggest impact of the bilateral treaties for the Swiss economy has not been in terms of exports, but imports. For years, Switzerland’s domestic market was protected from the full impact of competition by the EU’s dissimilar product rules. Standardisation and simplified homologation procedures have stimulated domestic competition. Consumers – meaning the Swiss people – have been the winners.
Once more, Aargau leads Avenir Suisse’s latest interactive Freedom Index. But its closest rival, Schwyz, has made up more ground. Geneva, once again, comes last, earning itself the title of Switzerland’s least free canton. Aargau’s latest victory marks its fifth time in a row at the top of the Freedom Index. That’s despite this year shedding two points compared with last time, meaning Aargau now scores 77 out of the maximum 100 points available. Schwyz, Glarus and Appenzell Innerrhoden, ranked second to fourth respectively. Each either dropped fewer points than last time (Appenzell Innerrhoden), maintained its score (Schwyz) or gained marks (Glarus), narrowing the gap on winning Aargau.
There is every sign world trade is losing its dependable dynamic of the past. The immediate reasons include slowing global growth and more uncertain monetary policies. And in the longer term, there’s the danger of rising protectionism. Switzerland will have to adjust to a more volatile, complex and unpredictable world. That makes policies favouring investment and economic performance all the more important.
The mighty tractors of Switzerland’s farmers symbolise the country’s agricultural sector: too big, too unsustainable and too subject to emotion. Prof. Dr Felix Schläpfer, an environmental economist presented at an Avenir Suisse debate some key new data to assess the value added of Swiss agriculture. He argued the official figures produced by the country’s administration did not reflect adequately the sector’s problems with profitability.
28 October 2015 | Alois Bischofberger, Rudolf Walser
This year’s autumn meeting focused on the repercussions of unorthodox monetary policy. The debate was opened by Avenir Suisse director Gerhard Schwarz, with the observation that money now rules the world. But who is in charge of money? And what are the consequences?