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International Monetary Fund
This technical note discusses the banking system structure, performance, and medium-term challenges for Switzerland. The note discusses that the Swiss banking sector has been undergoing a substantial consolidation over the last 10 years, but retains a rich collection of institutional types operating in various business segments. Consolidation has been partly driven by competitive pressures following the burst of the housing market bubble and entailed a substantial reduction in the number of institutions and branches. Smaller banks have been also developing owing to various types of cost-sharing arrangements.
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper and Statistical Appendix evaluates Switzerland’s long-term growth and productivity performance. It analyzes the behavior of Swiss fiscal policy over the business cycle and takes a fresh look at the nature of the tradeoff between inflation and economic activity in Switzerland. The paper reports estimates of the automatic and discretionary responses of general government finances to cyclical output movements during 1970–96. It also examines the main options for improving the stabilization role of Switzerland’s fiscal policy over the business cycle.
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper and Statistical Appendix compares two alternative time series approaches to analyzing Switzerland’s recent business cycle experience: first, the traditional “smooth-trend-plus-cycle approach,” which envisages observed output growth as fluctuating around a relatively smooth potential output growth path; and, second, the more recently developed “regime change approach,” which views business cycles as shifts between “high-growth” states (expansions) and “slow-growth” states (recessions) of the economy. The paper also examines Switzerland’s monetary policy framework, and describes the challenges to the Swiss tax system.
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper examines economic growth in Switzerland. It attempts to analyze whether slow growth is inescapable for Switzerland. The paper suggests that income convergence across countries contributes significantly to slow relative growth in Switzerland, but experience in several advanced industrial countries reinforces the view that slow growth is not inescapable. Higher growth will require raising total factor productivity growth, which remains low by international standards, and to a lesser extent, raising the investment rate.
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper and Statistical Appendix assesses Switzerland’s recent real GDP performance in terms of underlying movements in potential output and the cyclical output gap. The paper highlights that Swiss real GDP has been stagnant since 1990, after expanding at an average rate of some 1¾ percent during 1977–90. The evidence presented indicates that potential output growth during 1991–95 was significantly below historical average. This paper also tries to assess the possible effects of stage 3 of European Monetary Union on Switzerland.
Laurence M. Ball, Mr. Daniel Leigh, and Mr. Prakash Loungani
This paper asks how well Okun’s Law fits short-run unemployment movements in the United States since 1948 and in twenty advanced economies since 1980. We find that Okun’s Law isa strong and stable relationship in most countries, one that did not change substantiallyduring the Great Recession. Accounts of breakdowns in the Law, such as the emergence of“jobless recoveries,” are flawed. We also find that the coefficient in the relationship—the effect of a one percent change in output on the unemployment rate—varies substantially across countries. This variation is partly explained by idiosyncratic features of national labormarkets, but it is not related to differences in employment protection legislation.
Ruchir Agarwal, Ina Ganguli, Patrick Gaulé, and Geoff Smith
This paper studies the impact of U.S. immigration barriers on global knowledge production. We present four key findings. First, among Nobel Prize winners and Fields Medalists, migrants to the U.S. play a central role in the global knowledge network—representing 20-33% of the frontier knowledge producers. Second, using novel survey data and hand-curated life-histories of International Math Olympiad (IMO) medalists, we show that migrants to the U.S. are up to six times more productive than migrants to other countries—even after accounting for talent during one’s teenage years. Third, financing costs are a key factor preventing foreign talent from migrating abroad to pursue their dream careers, particularly for talent from developing countries. Fourth, certain ‘push’ incentives that reduce immigration barriers—by addressing financing constraints for top foreign talent—could increase the global scientific output of future cohorts by 42 percent. We concludeby discussing policy options for the U.S. and the global scientific community.
Mr. Anastassios Gagales
Swiss growth performance in the past quarter century has been mediocre. The paper finds that conditional income convergence contributes significantly to slow growth and the poor performance of the domestically oriented sectors has been a drag on growth. However, slow growth is not inescapable. Faster growth would require raising total factor productivity growth, which remains low by international standards, and the investment rate. Further progress in structural reform could sustain the underlying growth rate at about 2 percent in the next few years.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

Many economists strongly advocate inflation targeting as a framework for conducting monetary policy. Under this approach, first adopted by New Zealand in 1989, countries make an explicit commitment to meet a specified inflation rate target or target range within a certain time frame. Proponents of inflation targeting cite its many potential benefits—it can lower average inflation, stabilize output, and lock in expectations of low inflation, which can reduce the inflationary impact of macroeconomic shocks. But is there hard evidence yet that inflation targeting really has helped improve inflation, output, and interest rate performance? A study by Laurence Ball (Professor of Economics, Johns Hopkins University) and Niamh Sheridan (Economist, IMF Institute) argues that the early evidence is inconclusive. They suggest greater experience may be needed before a definitive answer can be reached.

International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues paper and Statistical Appendix evaluates Switzerland’s long-term growth and productivity performance. It analyzes the behavior of Swiss fiscal policy over the business cycle and takes a fresh look at the nature of the tradeoff between inflation and economic activity in Switzerland. The paper reports estimates of the automatic and discretionary responses of general government finances to cyclical output movements during 1970–96. It also examines the main options for improving the stabilization role of Switzerland’s fiscal policy over the business cycle.