Patricia Funk, Christina Gathmann, 10 February 2012

As debt crises hit on both sides of the Atlantic, a safe haven for many investors has been Switzerland. This column looks at Swiss public spending over the last century and argues that one reason for its low debt may be its greater use of direct democracy, where people vote on individual policies, as opposed to representative democracy, where people elect others to make decisions on their behalf.

Bruce Blonigen, Lindsay Oldenski, Nicholas Sly, 26 November 2011

The most recent G20 summit led to a multilateral agreement to facilitate information sharing between tax agencies, with the US currently negotiating bilateral tax treaties with the tax havens of Switzerland and Luxembourg. But before celebrations begin, this column points out that cracking down on tax evasion comes at a cost. International investment may well suffer.

Raphael Auer, Sébastien Kraenzlin, 31 March 2011

Banks across the globe have a high balance-sheet exposure to foreign currencies. During the panic of the global financial crisis, the private supply of cross-border liquidity came to a halt, requiring government action. This column documents the unmet demand for cross-border liquidity for the case of the Swiss Franc and describes the countermeasures that were adopted by the Swiss authorities.

Cédric Tille, 12 March 2009

The biggest risk facing the Swiss economy is its large financial sector with substantial international exposure. Foreign currencies, mostly held by UBS and Credit Suisse, account for nearly two-thirds of banks’ balance sheets – an amount equivalent to four times annual GDP. This column suggests splitting the two large banks’ domestic and foreign operations, so that losses on the latter do not jeopardise the domestic financial system.

Patricia Funk, 28 November 2008

Patricia Funk of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about her research on the impact of direct democracy on government spending, which draws on over a hundred years of data on the cantons of Switzerland. The interview was recorded at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Milan in August 2008.

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