The Swiss Economy Continues on its Growth Course
Big dangers in the global economy are the sword of Damocles

    Zurich (ots) - economiesuisse expects GDP growth of 2% for 2011. The strength of the Swiss franc will dampen growth in the export sector. Construction and consumption expenditure will profit from rising wages, lower unemployment, low interest rates and net immigration. The inflation rate will remain low next year too. The downside risks, however, remain high.

    Perspectives for 2011: 2% GDP Growth

    Further recovery of exports despite a strong franc. As in 2010, the domestic and export economies will increase despite the strength of the franc. However, growth in export industries will weaken significantly. Emphases will shift in comparison to the crisis year of 2009. The chemical and pharmaceutical industry, which absorbed the slump in GDP in 2009, will next year slow down somewhat on account of the precarious financing situation of many industrial countries. The watch industry, on the other hand, can look positively to the future on account of worldwide demand.

    Demand on the world markets as a driving factor. The driving factor in export development is the robust economic situation, above all in Germany and in the emerging markets. They will compensate for the weak growth in other markets. The strength of the franc will thus dampen the recovery of exports, but will nevertheless not lead to a slump. The year 2011 will, however, be a stress test for the tourism industry in Switzerland.

    Stable growth in the domestic economy. Wage increases (expected at rather more than 1%), a slight decrease in unemployment and further net immigration will have a positive impact on the domestic economy. Private investment in construction and consumption expenditure will profit from the increase in available income and will increase further in the coming year. The federal government, the cantons and local authorities will also sustain the economy. In contrast to foreign countries, the public purse will not have to curtail either its construction or consumption expenditure. In fact, a slight increase in financial means is to be expected. Switzerland will remain an attractive business location for international companies. The health industry will also show constant growth. The increase in health insurance contributions and the increase in value-added tax of 0.4%, which will lead to a one-off, slight impact on prices, will however place a strain on the domestic economy.

    The inflation rate remains low. Investment in infrastructure and construction will profit from low interest rates. These, however, will also result in problems, as in the insurance sector. The real estate market will in certain Swiss regions show a tendency to overheat, and the economy will continue to develop positively. Business thus expects the central bank to make a slight increase in short-term interest rates in the course of the coming months. Nevertheless, the SNB will continue to exercise a highly expansionary monetary policy when compared to the long term. Lower import prices will dampen price development on the domestic market. The inflation rate will thus also remain low in 2011 and will only be around one per cent.

    Moderate reduction in unemployment. The demand for qualified manpower remains high in several sectors. economiesuisse expects that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate (as measured by seco) will sink moderately in the coming months and in 2011 will be at an annual average of 3.2%.

    High downside risks because of the debt problem and bubbles. One downside risk is the problem of debt in the EU. Despite the intervention of the ECB and the rescue parachute, the Euro Zone could break apart. This would result in an abrupt increase in the value of the franc and have a correspondingly serious impact on the economy. Another downside risk is the state of economic growth in the USA, which is precarious. The debt situation remains unsolved, and the real estate markets have still not stabilized. A third downside risk is the tendency towards bubbles in the emerging markets. If this were corrected, it would put a heavy strain on the fragile world economy.

    Forecasts for national accounts

Change in % compared to the previous year

|                                        |2007 |2008 |2009  |2010          |2011         |
|                                        |        |        |         |(forecast)    |(forecast) |
|GDP in real terms              |3.6  | 1.9 |-1.9      |2.6            |2.0          |
|Private consumption          |2.3  |1.3  |1.0        |1.6            |1.4          |
|Public consumption            |0.3  |1.7  |1.6        |0.9            |1.3          |
|Construction investment      |-2.3 |0.0  |3.0      |3.3            |2.5          |
|Equipment investment        |11.1 |0.8  |-10.8    |4.4            |3.6          |
|Exports (total)                    |9.6  |3.3  |-8.7      |9.1            |3.9          |
|Imports (total)                    |6.1  |0.3  |-5.4      |6.5            |5.2          |

Change in % compared to the previous year, annual average

|                                        |2007 |2008 |2009  |2010         |2011    |
|                                        |        |        |         |(forecast) |(forecast)|
|Inflation rate                      |0.7  |2.4    |-0.5  |0.7          |0.8          |
|Unemployment rate            |2.8  |2.6    |3.7    |3.8          |3.2          |

Exogenous Assumptions*

|                                          |2010 |2011 |
|Exchange rate CHF/Euro      |1.38 |1.33    |
|Exchange rate CHF/$            |1.05 |0.97      |
|Oil price in $                        |76    |90      |
|Growth rate U.S.                  |2.8  |2.4      |
|Growth rate Euro Zone          |1.7  |1.5      |
|Growth rate China                 |10.2 |9.3      |
|Short-term interest rates        |0.2  |0.6      |
|Yield on Swiss Federal            |1.7  |2.1      |
|Bonds                                  |        |          |

* Values applied for the 2011 economic forecast estimates

ots Originaltext: economiesuisse

Rudolf Minsch
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