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Capitalism in one country? Switzerland in the international economy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 May 2009

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Recent experience confirms an old truth: Switzerland offers a view of the past that works. In 1978 Switzerland was one of the richest countries in the world with a Gross National Product (GNP) of $13,853 per capita. Between 1975 and 1978 it raised the proportion of exports of goods and services in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 36 to 44 percent. In 1977 its current account surplus surpassed that of West Germany and was second only to Japan's. Between 1970 and the end of 1979 the Swiss Franc appreciated by about 90 percent on a trade-weighted basis; against the dollar the appreciation was about 120 percent. From a rate of more than 10 percent in 1974 its inflation rate dropped to 1 percent in 1978. Switzerland's official unemployment figures (which do not record the loss of more than 300,000 jobs among foreign workers and women since 1973) are lower than those of all other advanced industrial states. And even though since 1970 government expenditures have increased faster than in any other OECD country, Switzerland's budget deficit was cut by one-third in the midst of a general recession in 1976–1977. Real GDP dropped by more than 7 percent in 1975, which represented one of the largest declines in the OECD and was a much greater drop than had been recorded in any one year in the 1930s; yet, only two years later, in 1977 Switzerland's real GNP increased by 4.3 percent, which exceeded the growth rate of any other OECD member state.

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Copyright © The IO Foundation 1980

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References

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20 Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 7 September 1966 and 9 December 1973.

21 Tuchtfeldt, Egon, ed., Schweizerische Wirtschaftspolitik zwischen Gestern und Morgen: Festgabe zum Schweizerische Wirtschaftspolitik zwischen Gestern und Morgen: Festgabe zum 65. Geburtstag von Hugo Sieber (Bern: Haupt, 1976)Google Scholar contains only one chapter on the industrial policy of the European Communities.

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28 Greuter, Dieter, Der schweizerische Metall- und Uhrenarbeiter- Verband und die Industriegewerkschaft Metall für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Ein Vergleich (Berlin: Duncker, 1972), pp. 77, 194.Google Scholar

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31 OECD, Public Expenditure Trends, p. 22.Google Scholar

32 Social Security in Ten Industrial Nations. This comparison is based on both public and private pension plans. These data are biased in favor of Switzerland because they are drawn from only one rich canton, Zurich. On the other hand, these data do not include Swiss private savings encouraged through low taxation.

33 Schwarb, Ernst, “Arbeitsmarkt und Fremdarbeiterpolitik,” in Arbeitgeberpolitik in der Nachkriegszeit von 1948 bis 1967 (Zurich: Zentralverband Schweizerischer Arbeitgeber-Organisationen, 1968), p. 215Google Scholar.

34 Die Schweiz im Zeichen des harten Franken, p. 9.

35 Küng, , The Secret of Success, p. 2Google Scholar.

36 Thurow, Lester C., “Inflation: We're Fighting Yesterday's War,” New York Times, 21 10 1979, Section F, p. 16Google Scholar.

37 This is the suggestive title of Horst's, ThomasAt Home Abroad: A Study of the Domestic and Foreign Operations of the American Food-Processing Industry (Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger, 1974)Google Scholar. Bornschier, , Wachstum von Industrieunternehmen, p. 206. Bornschier estimates foreign production as 200 percent of direct foreign investment, p. 551.Google ScholarMeyer, Peter C., “Switzerland: Small State and Big Business,” paper prepared for the ECPR Workshop on “The State and Inter-national Economic Power,” Louvain, 04 1976, p. 5Google Scholar.

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39 Niehans, , “Benefits of Multinational Firms,” p. 6.Google Scholar

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55 Kriesi, Hanspeter, “Entscheidungsstrukturen und Entscheidungsprozesse in der Schweizer Politik: Ein empirisches Bild des politischen Systems der Schweiz auf Bundesebene” (Zurich, Institute of Sociology, 1979), p. 759Google Scholar. Unfortunately I have not yet been able to read more than the concluding chapter of this manuscript. In several ways the arguments developed there converge with this analysis.

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69 A more detailed and documented analysis of these comparative implications will be contained in Peter J. Katzenstein, Autonomy and Dependence: The Small European States in the International Economy.

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75 Pempel, T. J., “Japanese Foreign Economic Policy: The Domestic Bases for International Behavior,” in Between Power and Plenty, pp. 139–90Google Scholar; Pempel, T. J. and Tsunekawa, Keiichi, “Corporatism without Labor? The Japanese Anomaly,” in Trends towards Corporatist Intermediation, Schmitter, P. and Lehmbruch, G., eds. (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1979), pp.231–70Google Scholar.

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77 Der Spiegel, 26 September 1977, p. 163.

78 Pfister, Max, Die Sonderstellung der Schweiz in der internationalen Wirtschaflspolitik: Aussenwirtschaftspolitik 1945–1959 (Winterthur: Keller, 1971), p. 88Google Scholar.

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