Die Bauwirtschaft in der Gesamtwirtschaft
Hans Meyer, Chairman of the Governing Board
Swiss Construction Industry Conference (SCIC), Bern, November 12, 1998, 12.11.1998
Even today, a year and a half after the economic upswing set in, the stimuli emanating from the construction sector are still weak. This major expansionary force is therefore still missing. The current problems have their roots largely in the economic overheating of the eighties. Aside from non-monetary factors, the National Bank's monetary policy also contributed to this undesirable development: largely out of consideration for the development of exchange rates, the central bank refrained from tightening its policy. The subsequent restrictive monetary policy to combat inflation led to a steep fall in construction demand and to a marked price adjustment in the property market. A new assessment of the risks in the property market as well as structural changes in demand for real estate and the lifting of regulations were major reasons for the persistent recession in the building industry during the nineties.
The high cost of combating inflation underlines the value of an adequate monetary environment. In order to judge the extent of future inflation, a large number of predominant leading indicators must be taken into consideration. These include real estate prices. Monetary conditions today are conducive to the recovery of the construction industry and a change in trend in favour of sustained long-term growth. The National Bank must ensure that the high degree of price stability is maintained. In this way, it creates - within the means at its disposal - the best conditions for investment, thus contributing to a balanced development of the construction sector.