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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.

Copyright © The IO Foundation 1980

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1 See Küng, Emil, The Secret of Switzerland's Economic Success (Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute, 1978)Google Scholar; Leutwiler, Fritz, Swiss Monetary and Exchange Rate Policy in an Inflationary World (Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute, 1978)Google Scholar; Borner, S. et al. , Structural Analysis of Swiss Industry 1968–1978: Redeployment of Industry and the International Division of Labor (Basle: Institut für Sozialwissenschaften and Institut für Angewandte Wirtschaftsforschung, Discussion Paper No. 22, 08 1978)Google Scholar; Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Public Expenditure Trends (Paris: OECD, 1978)Google Scholar; Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD Economic Surveys: Switzerland (Paris: OECD, 1978)Google Scholar; New York Times, 25 July 1979, p. D8; Lage und Probleme derschweizerischen Wirtschaft: Gutachten 1977/78 (Bern: Eidgenössisches Volkswirtschaftsdepartment und Schweizerische Nationalbank, 1978), 1:118; Morgan Guaranty Trust Co., World Financial Markets, April 1980Google Scholar; Crossland, Norman, “The Everlasting League: Survey 3,” The Economist, 3 02 1979, p. 23Google Scholar; “Euer Friede ist faul und erlogen, wenn…”: SPIEGEL-Report über das politische und gesellschaftliche System der Schveiz,” Der Spiegel, 2 08 1971, pp. 7286Google Scholar.

2 Heilbroner, Robert L., Business Civilization in Decline (New York: Norton, 1976).Google Scholar

3 This is noted critically in Kristensen, Peter Hull and Levinsen, Jørn, The Small Country Squeeze (Roskilde, Denmark: Roskilde University Center, Institute of Economics, Politics and Administration, 1978), p. 132Google Scholar.

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5 Die Schweiz als Kleinstaat in der Weltwirtschaft (St. Gallen: Fehr'sche Buchhandlung, 1945), p. 301.Google Scholar

6 Borner, et al. , Structural Analysis; p. 162Google Scholar.

7 Finanzund Wirtschaft, 10 December 1975.

8 Borner, et al. , Structural Analysis, p. 37Google Scholar.

9 Die Welt, 12 June 1961; Schweizerischer Handels- und Industrie-Verein, Jahresbericht 1977/78:108. Vereinsjahr, pp. 5758Google Scholar; Borner, et al. , Structural Analysis, p. 38Google Scholar; Jolles, Paul R., Die Schweiz in Spannungsfeld der Welthandels-, Währungs- und Rohstoffprobleme (Zurich: Schweizerischer Handels- und Industrie-Verein, 1975), p. 19. Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 10 January 1970Google Scholar; Peter, Hans-Balz, “Schweizerische Ausfuhr nach Südafrika und Exportrisikogarantie,” Entwicklungsstudien, Institut für Sozialethik des SEK, Paper 19 (12 1977), p. 5Google Scholar.

10 Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 17 February 1978; Schweizerischer Handels- und Industrie-Verein, Jahresbericht 1977/78, pp. 105–6Google Scholar.

11 Die Schweiz im Zeichen des harten Frankens (Zurich: Schweizerische Kreditanstalt, 1978), p. 13Google Scholar.Rehsche, Guntram, Schweizerische Aussenwirtschaftspolitik und Dritte Welt; Ziele und Instrumente. Exportförderung kontra Entwicklungspolitik (Adliswil: Institut für Sozialethik, 1977), p. 63Google Scholar.

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13 Die Schweiz im Zeichen des harten Franken, pp. 4, 10; Winterberger, Gerhard, Die Schweiz im internationalen Wettbewerb (Zurich: Schweizerischer Handels-und Industrie-Verein, 1978), pp. 56Google Scholar; Leutwiler, , Swiss Monetary Policy, p. 4Google Scholar. Borner, et al. , Structural Analysis, p. 10Google Scholar; Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD Economic Surveys: Switzerland, (Paris: OECD, 1977), pp. 2837Google Scholar.

14 Bornschier, Volker, Wachstum, Konzentration und Multinationalisierung von Industrieunternehmen (Frauenfeld: Huber, 1976), p. 445.Google Scholar

15 Jöhr, Walter A., Finanzplatz Schweiz kontra Exportwirischaft? Fakten und Überlegungen zum Wechselkursproblem unseres Landes (Zurich: Vereinigung für Gesunde Währung, 1976), pp. 17, 30Google Scholar.

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19 Streichenberg, Felix, Forschung und volkswirtschaftliches Wachstum unler besonderer Berücksichtigung schweizerischer Verhältnisse (Bern: Lang, 1968), p. 135Google Scholar. Tschopp, Hubertus G., Entwicklungstendenzen der Inlandsnachfrage nach Industriegütern in der Schweiz (Winterthur: Schellenberg, 1973), p. 29Google Scholar; Borner, et al. , Structural Analysis, p. 11Google Scholar; Industrie-Verein, Schweizerischer Handels- und, Forschung und Entwicklung in der schweizerischen Privatwirtschaft: Bericht zur Erhebung des Vororts im Jahre 1976 (Zurich: n.d.), pp. 17, 24Google Scholar. For 1964 data see Bornschier, , Wachstum von Industrieunternehmen, p. 454Google Scholar; Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Reviews of National Science Policy: Switzerland (ParisOECD, 1971), p. 34Google Scholar.

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.

22 Winterberger, , Die Schweiz im internationalen Wettbewerb, p. 14.Google Scholar

23 Peter Flora in collaboration with Alber, Jens and Kohl, Jürgen, “On the Development of the Western European Welfare States,” Historical Indicators of the Western European Democracies, Report No. 5 (Mannheim, 1976), pp. 2728Google Scholar.

24 Wilensky, Harold L., The ‘New Corporatism’, Centralization, and the Welfare State (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1976), p. 11.Google Scholar

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27 Werder, Hans, Die Bedeutung der Volksintiative in der Nachkriegszeit (Bern: Francke, 1978), p. 61Google Scholar, footnote 54; Gut, Rainer E., Entwicklungstendenzen der Züricher Börse (Zurich: Schweizerische Kreditanstalt, 1977), p. 4Google Scholar.

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

29 Küng, , The Secret of Economic Success, p. 8Google Scholar; Hartmann, Karl, Subsidiarität und Föderalismus in der schweizerischen Sozialpolitik (Winterthur: Schellenberg, 1971), p. 79Google Scholar; Gut, , Entwicklungstendenzen, p. 5Google Scholar; Schaefer, A., The Banks in a Time of Challenge (Zurich: Union Bank of Switzerland, 1975), p. 10Google Scholar.

30 OECD, Public Expenditure Trends, pp. 4245Google Scholar; Wilensky, , The ‘New Corporatism,’ p. 16Google Scholar, Social Security in Ten Industrial Nations (Zurich: Union Bank of Switzerland, 1977), pp. 26, 32Google Scholar.

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.

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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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41 Niehans, , “Benefits of Multinational Firms,” pp. 3738,Google Scholar

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44 New York Times, 5 June 1979, p. D4.

45 Holzach, Robert, Banken und Strukturpolitik, (n.p., Aargauische Industrie- und Handelskammer, 1977)Google Scholar.

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50 Höpflinger, François, “Zum Organisationsgrad bei Angestellten: Daten und Argumente,” Gewerkschaftliche Rundschau, 5/1979, p. 151Google Scholar; Siegenthaler, Jürg, Die Politik der Gewerkschaften: Eine Untersuchung der Öffentlichen Funktionen schweizerischer Gewerkschaften nach dent Zweiten Weltkrieg (Bern: Francke, 1968), pp. 5178Google Scholar.

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53 Winterberger, Gerhard, Politik und Wirtschaft (Bern: Berner Handelskammer, 1970), p. 3.Google Scholar

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56 Steiner, Jürg, Gewaltlose Politik und Kulturelle Vielfalt: Hypothesen entwickelt am Beispiel der Schweiz (Bern: Haupt, 1970), p. 127Google Scholar. Schumann, Klaus, Das Regierungssystem der Schweiz (Cologne: Heymanns, 1971), pp. 127–28Google Scholar.

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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.

70 See Katzenstein, Peter J., “Economic Dependency and Political Autonomy: The Small European States in the International Economy” (Mimeograph, Cornell University, 11 1978), pp. 1423Google Scholar.

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

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