Competitiveness and growth prospects of the Swiss economy on the threshold of the 21st century

Jean-Pierre Roth, Chairman of the Governing Board

55th Annual General Meeting of the Vereinigung Schweizerischer Unternehmen in Deutschland (Association of Swiss Entrepreneurs in Germany), Zurich, 09.05.2001

The Swiss economy became increasingly competitive in the nineties. This is largely attributable to profound restructuring, deregulation and the opening of the markets as well as to new solutions in economic policy. The nineties, however, were also characterised by stagnation and unemployment. Exchange rate turbulences and a weak international economy led to a prolongation of the recession, which had to be endured in the battle against inflation. The central bank management of the time deserves credit for its explicit aim to reestablish price stability which consistently strengthened the credibility of monetary policy. From today's vantage point, however, the National Bank would place more emphasis than formerly on the fact that it takes the exchange rate development into account in its monetary policy decisions.

Ensuring the competitiveness of the Swiss economy in the long term must be a prime goal for those responsible for monetary policy. All factors that contribute to sustained economic growth must be promoted. These include, among other things, a stable macroeconomic environment. The National Bank therefore aims at ensuring a high degree of price stability. If it wishes to fulfil its stability mandate, it cannot circumvent the exchange rate. It takes the exchange rate into account insofar as this influences the inflation forecast.