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Quo vadis, Switzerland as a financial center?

Jeffrey Satinover Faculty Lorange Institute of Business Zurich
Money is like water: it always takes a line of least resistance.  Where are the global capital assets flowing to?
I will be evasive: Global capital assets are for the most part NOT flowing, but, to continue the analogy, are being dammed by doubt. Corporations all over the world are sitting on huge cash hoards. The question is rather: To where will these assets flow once the dam bursts as financial dams always do? And - is there enough fundamental value whence it will flow to justify the influx, or will a new bubble be created? Most likely a mix of the two possibilities. However, regarding Switzerland, more capital is flowing into Switzerland than a country of 8 million can accommodate.

Where do you see Switzerland in the shifting and changing financial markets?
Switzerland has an extraordinary opportunity - again this century as once before in the last - to benefit itself and the world economy both through its industries and because of its intact civil society. It can and should play a prominent role as a neutral haven for business - while being aware, and properly savvy about what a prize it is.

Switzerland has been under huge pressure by various countries, including the U.S. This has more to do with the tradition of American protectionism than with moral. America is protecting it's own tax havens.
I doubt this has anything to do with "protectionism" in the political sense but - as I think you are getting at - simple self-interest. However, that self-interest, in my opinion, is being improperly calculated by both the present and prior US administration. The amount of tax revenue it has received from the pressure it has exerted is trivial. And it is not the Swiss who are hurt: It is also large numbers of "small" Americans who have never been involved in tax evasion.

Why should a country like Switzerland give up a competitive advantage like the banking secrecy. It protects predominantly the privacy of individuals from greedy fiscal authorities and not tax exiles.
It shouldn't. But this has always been a tension in the nature of Switzerland: It is small, but because of its efficacy plays a disproportionately important role in economic affairs - a point of pride and of caution. It is subject to pressures from larger countries.

Are regulations necessary and will they "tame the beast"? Is the UBS banker who lost 2 billion Swiss francs a victim of the market? And why are speculative operations on falling prices not bad?

>> Read the long version of the interview on our blog.

*Jeffrey Satinover, Director Quintium Analytics; Faculty member of the Lorange Institute of Business Zurich; Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and Science at The King's College, NYC and a visiting scientist at the ETH Zurich. He taught at Harvard, Yale and Princeton.
** Taming Manias. J.Satinover and D.Sornette. In Governance and Control of Financial Systems A Resilience Engineering Perspective. Edited by Gunilla Sundström, Deutsche Bank, Germany and Erik Hollnagel. Institute of Public Health. University of Southern Denmark. Denmark (Series : Ashgate Studies in Resilience Engineering)

On February 17 and 18 Jeffrey Satinover is teaching at Lorange Institute of Business Zurich: Behavioral Finance
Published: 19/10/2011
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