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Joseph C. Wheeler

For the latest thinking about the international financial system, monetary policy, economic development, poverty reduction, and other critical issues, subscribe to Finance & Development (F&D). This lively quarterly magazine brings you in-depth analyses of these and other subjects by the IMF’s own staff as well as by prominent international experts. Articles are written for lay readers who want to enrich their understanding of the workings of the global economy and the policies and activities of the IMF.

International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper attempts to quantify the impact of the demographic shift on growth and public finances in Switzerland. It examines the intertemporal consistency between current policy plans and unfunded liabilities, focusing primarily on social security, and explores policy options. It finds that so far, the impact of aging on the economy has been moderate. The number of pensioners has risen in recent years, but this is mainly owing to early retirees taking advantage of the generous disability and pension systems. The paper also examines the need for health care reforms in Switzerland.
International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, & Review Department
Ensuring economic sustainability is key to achieving the IMF’s surveillance mandate of maintaining present and prospective balance of payments and domestic stability, assuring orderly exchange arrangements, and promoting a stable system of exchange rates. A good understanding of issues related to economic sustainability is thus essential for the IMF to provide effective surveillance and policy advice, while it requires a broad perspective and a long time horizon. With respect to the IMF’s surveillance mandate, the principle of macro-criticality, which guides the IMF’s engagement with its members, is sufficiently flexible and broad, allowing the IMF to cover issues related to economic sustainability. At the same time, given the wide range of issues that are related to economic sustainability, IMF surveillance needs to be selective and focused, with the choice of issues made on a case-by-case basis, considering country circumstances. It also needs to leverage the expertise of other institutions when necessary. The IMF and other institutions have advanced work to enhance analytical frameworks and indicators related to economic sustainability, and this should continue.
International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues paper attempts to quantify the impact of the demographic shift on growth and public finances in Switzerland. It examines the intertemporal consistency between current policy plans and unfunded liabilities, focusing primarily on social security, and explores policy options. It finds that so far, the impact of aging on the economy has been moderate. The number of pensioners has risen in recent years, but this is mainly owing to early retirees taking advantage of the generous disability and pension systems. The paper also examines the need for health care reforms in Switzerland.

International Monetary Fund

This paper reviews the trade-offs in Switzerland, focusing on challenges for fiscal policy coordination. It reviews the benefits and costs of a highly decentralized government, describes the Swiss institutional architecture, and analyzes Switzerland’s fiscal performance. It also discusses the specific policy challenges related to population aging, reviews the Swiss National Bank works on government financial assets and liabilities, describes the Swiss, Dutch, and the U.K. pension systems, respectively, on the regulation and supervision of the occupational pension pillar, recent reforms, and policy implications.

International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

1. The Swiss pension system has performed well historically, ensuring relatively high retirement incomes while maintaining a stable funding position. With close to 150 percent of GDP in pension assets, the Swiss pension system is one of the most well-capitalized systems among OECD countries, with funding levels in both public and private systems also remaining relatively stable. A large share of voluntary savings (accounting for about 60 percent of assets), and relatively high wealth (4th in the OECD) and disposable income levels have contributed to good retirement incomes. The Swiss system also compares well with peers on governance and financial sustainability indicators, although it is slightly below average in terms of adequacy. This reflects deterioration against other countries in recent years due to lack of reforms in response to demographic developments.2

John H. Adler

This year the World Bank’s Economic Development Institute celebrated the tenth anniversary of its foundation as a teaching institution. Its Director has taken the occasion to reflect on some of the fundamental lessons that he believes economists have learned about development.