Switzerland counts as a pinnacle of budgetary stability. But rising expenditure has led to higher burdens on the state. That has prompted calls to relax Switzerland’s trusted “debt brake” (a legislative mechanism forbidding state borrowing to exceed certain levels, ed) Such demands go against popular caution, as demonstrated by a survey by Avenir Suisse and the Sotomo research group. In view of what are likely to be steadily rising financial challenges, the debt brake should, if anything, be extended. Public opinion suggests savings should be concentrated on bureaucracy and agriculture.
As a small, open economy, Switzerland earns most of its income abroad. To ensure the country’s long term prosperity Avenir Suisse’s new discussion paper: “Trade rather than protectionism: A three pillar strategy for Switzerland's foreign trade” recommends continuing and deepening its strategy of striking bilateral treaties with the European Union, boosting free trade with non-EU countries and further liberalising the domestic market, especially in services and agriculture.
13 September 2016 | Patrick Dümmler, Natanael Rother
Low electricity prices have put pressure on generating companies. That’s problematic for Switzerland’s cantons and municipalities too: since 2010, the value of their stakes in the sector has dropped by about SFr 6.5bn.
Foreign language teaching is getting the Swiss hot under the collar again – particularly when it comes to which of the four national languages should be taught as a second tongue in primary schools. However the story ends, it would be undesirable to let the issue dilute cantonal responsibility for education, as that would handicap creative solutions from the start.
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 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?