Outlook brightens for Swiss economy in 2014
Switzerland’s economy is expected to show robust growth in 2014 with immigration responsible at least in part, say forecasters who only disagree on how great the expansion will be.
Latest predictions range from an annual increase in GDP of 2.6 percent, as expected by economists at the Raiffeisen bank, to a more conservative two percent from Credit Suisse, in its latest forecast.
Federal government experts from the state secretariat for economic affairs (Seco) expect a rise of 2.3 percent next year, while Economiesuisse is calling for a 2.2 percent improvement.
Even at the lower end of forecasts, Switzerland’s economy is clearly moving forward at a faster clip than most observers expected as recently as June.
In its latest forecast, Seco raised its outlook for growth in the current year to 1.8 percent from 1.4 percent to reflect more optimism in the Euro zone.
But there are other factors at play, according to Claude Maurer, economist for Credit Suisse.
“The Swiss economy is in a super-cycle, which is fueled by low interest rates and high immigration rates,” Maurer is quoted as saying by the 20 Minuten newspaper on Tuesday.
He said high levels of immigration are responsible for about a quarter of consumer spending growth and the immigration level is expected to stay high in 2014.
Switzerland is also benefiting from growth in Germany, its biggest single trading partner.
One of the clouds hanging over the overall bright prospects is that infrastructure development is lagging overall economic growth, and traffic jams can be expected to increase on Swiss roads, Maurer indicated.
Optimism is also offset by unemployment which rose for the second consecutive month in November to reach 3.2 percent, up from 3.1 percent in October.
Unemployment remains the greatest concern for Swiss citizens, according to the results of a Credit Suisse “Worry Barometer” survey released on Tuesday.
However, the level of concern over joblessness is at its lowest level since 2000, with fewer than half of citizens (44 percent) considering it to be among their top five concerns.