Switzerland : they doth protest too much

By Neil Patrick

If you follow my blog regularly, you’ll know from my other posts that I pay a disproportionate amount of attention to the Swiss economy.  That’s because although small in global terms, the Swiss have had a knack for centuries of insulating themselves from outside world events and prospering quietly whilst other countries have careened in and out of economic and political/military crises.

Switzerland is therefore an extremely useful benchmark in my view of something in business we call, ‘what good looks like’. If we know what good looks like, and understand how its achieved, we can emulate it with similar outcomes.

A couple of weeks ago I reported how I was alarmed by economic news coming out of Switzerland. Whilst the big news was UBS cutting 10,000 jobs, this wasn’t especially remarkable given the  massive restructuring going on in that sector. No, what grabbed my interest was the news that Swiss manufacturers were laying off staff due to reducing export orders. We’ve become more or less numb to this sort of news in the US and UK, but in Switzerland?…this is just extraordinary.

When this morning, I received this video in my alerts, I had to share it. At first glance, it seems to deny that Switzerland is suffering the onset of any sort of recession. The argument presented here is that job losses are being balanced out by job creation in other sectors such as healthcare. This made me smile – since when could an investment banker instantly transform into a hospital administrator or a pharmaceutical researcher?

More critically there’s no distinction made here between structural unemployment, i.e. job losses which cannot and will no be restored in the short term, and cyclical unemployment which ebbs and flows on annual or seasonal cycles. The lost jobs are definitely structural. The new jobs? Well to be honest I don’t know.

Then I looked closely at the source of this film…I just knew I smelt a rat.  That’s the giveaway, the source of this film is the Swiss Broadcasting Service.  Now I wonder, might they just possibly be responding to a gentle nudge from the Swiss government?

You decide…

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