Economic policy environment
The Swiss economy has withstood the COVID-19 pandemic well. The decline in economic output during 2020 was modest by international standards. The forecast for 2021 is for a recovery and strong growth.
Government measures to cushion the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
The Swiss federal government is supporting the Swiss economy through the COVID-19 pandemic with a broad package of measures worth CHF 70 bn. Swiss banks maintained the supply of liquidity to the firms affected by swiftly rolling out the COVID-19 bridging credits.
Interest rate situation
The Swiss National Bank, US Federal Reserve and European Central Bank made extensive currency and asset purchases to stabilise the markets and support the economy in the COVID-19 crisis. No end to the expansionary monetary policy is in prospect.
Government debt has risen further around the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The very high debt levels are hindering the process of exiting from the expansionary monetary policy and encouraging governments to blur the line between fiscal and monetary policy objectives.
The Federal Council decided not to sign the framework agreement between Switzerland and the EU. Negotiations on a financial services agreement between Switzerland and the UK, meanwhile, are making progress.
In common with other sectors, banks are undergoing constant structural change, adapting their business models, processes and structures to reflect the economic situation, new technologies and changing customer needs.
Regulation of the banks and financial markets plays a key role in the attractiveness and competitiveness of the financial centre. Switzerland is also among the best-placed countries in the second edition of the Global Financial Regulation, Transparency, and Compliance Index (GFRTCI).1
An attractive tax environment and effective compliance rules are key locational advantages for the financial sector. Alongside taxation of banks’ own activities, a major issue is regulations to ensure that customers comply with their own tax obligations.