Think dänk!

What does a think tank do? It thinks. It researches, develops, evaluates. It produces knowledge, strategies, and proposed solutions. It provides food for thought and inspiration, highlighting the need for action. This is how Avenir Suisse develops ideas for our society – forward-thinking thoughts beyond the mainstream on topics that concern us all.

Interested in listening to the think tank while they think and contributing to our future? The Avenir Suisse research team creates transparency and offers insights into its working methods.

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Latest episodes

Is Industrial Policy an Answer?

Think dänk! Debate between think tankers Sylvie Matelly, Karel Lannoo, and Lukas Schmid

Industrial policy is making a comeback: supporting individual companies or entire industries has once again become acceptable around the world. Whether the aim is to strengthen security of supply, safeguard jobs, or fight climate change: The idea is to steer the economy in the desired direction. Globally, subsidies for this purpose amounted to a staggering $1,700 billion last year alone.

But can industrial policy deliver on all these political promises? Karel Lannoo, CEO of the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels, Sylvie Matelly, Director of the Jacques Delor Institute in Paris, and Avenir Suisse Senior Fellow Lukas Schmid, author of our latest study on industrial policy, discuss this topic in our new podcast episode.


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Marc Lehmann, Lukas Schmid

Podcast: The Right Honourable Liz Truss MP, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Marc Lehmann interviews the former British Prime Minister

It’s not every day that you receive a visit from a politician who once led a G7 nation. Although her tenure as Prime Minister was short-lived, Liz Truss made a significant impact on the global stage, particularly during her time as the Foreign Minister of the United Kingdom. During her brief visit to Switzerland, she did not miss the opportunity to visit our think tank and engage in a detailed and fruitful conversation with our researchers, discussing the challenges and opportunities of liberalism. Marc Lehmann asked Liz Truss what she gained from the exchange at Avenir Suisse.

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Marc Lehmann

High VAT Taxes Lead to Black Economy

Podcast A podcast about inequality ahead of Avenir Suiss’s Think Tank Summit 2019

Over the past years, the question of inequality has taken center stage in the political debate worldwide. Reducing inequality has become the “great challenge” and with it the question: Which policies should we implement in order to reduce poverty while fostering growth at the same time? In the run-up to Avenir Suisse’s Third Think Tank Summit on “Equality and Inequality”, Natanael Rother has met Lars Tvede* and Ulf Berg*, both experts and speakers at the upcoming conference, to discuss this issue.  Here are some key points of their discussion:

  • It is difficult to draw general conclusions about inequality, because situations differ a lot from country to country and statistics can be misleading. Yet it is obvious that inequality has fallen on a global basis, with China being a big push factor. On the other hand the US and some Western European countries (to a much lesser extent) have seen growing inequality since the 1980s, while the overall situation in Switzerland remains remarkably stable.
  • If politicians want to avoid misery, they should focus on establishing an education system which is permeable and allows people to stay ambitious throughout their lives. Countries with an apprenticeship system usually have a much better ability to keep a higher share of their workforce in the labor market.
  • In the very long run wealth comes only from creativity. Therefore educational systems should favor individual strengths over weaknesses, and should dare to reduce their share of standardized education. Apprenticeship systems could be valuable path for many countries, but they will take time to grow.

These and other questions and issues around inequality will be addressed and discussed in-depth at the Avenir Suisse’s Think Tank Summit 2019. Through interactive exchanges in workshops, debates and discussions, the summit aims to extract lessons and best practices that will help to understand the main drivers of equality and inequality. For those who would like to attend, please check our registration site for more details.

Ulf Berg, born in Denmark, is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Kuoni Reisen Holding AG and member of the Board of Directors of various BLR and AM-Tec portfolio firms. More information…

Lars Tvede is a Danish entrepreneur, investor and author living in Switzerland. He is the founder of Beluga, a successful financial trading company, advisor to a Swiss hedge fund and co-founder of the Nordic-American venture capital fund Nordic Eye. His 15 books have been published in 11 languages and more than 50 editions. More information…

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Natanael Rother

World Trade under New Conditions

Podcast, Think Tank Summit Key points

The movement of goods and people has increased significantly since the end of World War II. The emergence of populist political forces in the West is reversing the benefits of globalization. The Avenir Suisse Think Tank Summit 2017 was launched by Tibère Adler, Director of Avenir Suisse’s French-speaking branch. The Summit offered think-tankers from the USA, Great Britain, Belgium, Germany, France and Switzerland the opportunity to analyze the changing geopolitical framework. Here are some key points from the presenters:

Peter Grünenfelder (Director of Avenir Suisse):
“The current international political developments pose a major challenge for liberal democracies and economies. Switzerland would be particularly affected by a new protectionist era. … Globalization will continue to be a major trend, in other countries, and on other continents.”

Richard Baldwin (Professor of International Economics, Graduate Institute of Geneva): “The ‘new’ globalization, as we have seen it in the last twenty years, was more about international knowledge transfer than trade flows. Import duties are a trade-policy from a bygone era. In high-wage economies of the Western world, they will not create new jobs in large numbers – at most for robots.”

Kristian Niemetz (Institute of Economic Affairs, IEA London): “The majority of the Brexit supporters were not against free trade, but against deeper political integration with the EU. After the implementation of Article 50, Great Britain will only have two years for the signing of new trade treaties with the EU. A contractual vacuum after the end of this term would be equivalent to an ‘Ultra Hard Brexit’ with great uncertainty for both sides.”

Galina Kolev (Economist, Cologne Institute for Economic Research): “The German export industry has focused on the production of high-value goods. Currently, its biggest problem is the general uncertainty in many parts of the world, which has a negative impact on investment dynamics. … In principle, a ‘hard Brexit’ would be a lesser threat for the German economy than a soft Brexit, since the former would most likely strengthen cohesion within the EU.”

Frances G. Burwell (Distinguished Fellow Atlantic Council, Washington D.C.): “Donald Trump has reintroduced mercantilism to US politics. With of the new US president’s critical attitude towards multilateralism in international trade agreements, difficulties with the EU and the WTO are virtually pre-programmed. In general, Trump’s ideological focus on trade is evidence of a low understanding of globalized economic processes.”

Patrick Dümmler (Senior Fellow Avenir Suisse, Research Coordinator of Open Switzerland): “Switzerland should continue to rely on its proven strategy of openness, intensifying existing free trade agreements and concluding new ones. This would reduce the high administrative costs faced by many companies.”


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Verena Parzer-Epp