Tag Archives: Switzerland

The Swiss Connection: How Russia Is Weathering Tough Sanctions, by Alex Kimani

How is Russia weathering those tough sanctions? Just fine, thank you. From Alex Kimani at oilprice.com (hardly a Russia propaganda outfit):

  • Continued oil and gas exports as well as a propped-up ruble, have allowed Moscow to weather Western sanctions.
  • JPM has backtracked on its earlier forecasts of a 35% contraction in Russian GDP in the second quarter.
  • The lion’s share of Russian raw materials is traded via Switzerland and its nearly 1,000 commodity firms.

A couple of weeks ago, Putin went on record calling the war in Ukraine a “tragedy” and claiming that economic sanctions imposed on his country had “failed.”  Turns out he wasn’t exactly bluffing.

Three months into the most severe and coordinated sanctions by Western governments, Russia’s economy is proving to be a hard nut to crack. Continued oil and gas exports as well as a propped-up ruble, have allowed Moscow to weather the West’s sanctions much better than expected.

In a note to clients dated last week and made public on Monday, JPMorgan Chase says business sentiment surveys from the country “are signaling a not very deep recession in Russia, and therefore imply upside risks to our growth forecasts. The data at hand therefore do not point to an abrupt plunge in activity, at least for now”.

JPM has also backtracked on its earlier forecasts of a 35% contraction in Russian GDP in the second quarter and 7% for all of 2022, now predicting that the recession will be far less severe.

Continue reading→

If Austria and Switzerland Are Exempt From NATO Then Why Not Ukraine? By Finian Cunningham

Good question. From Finian Cunningham at strategic-culture.org:

Moscow insists that its demand for halting NATO expansionism is inviolable. Washington insists on rejecting that. The gap in diplomacy is becoming a dangerous abyss.

American and NATO officials contend that Russia has no right to demand that Ukraine be excluded from membership of the military alliance. Such a demand is a non-starter, they say.

Meanwhile, Russia insists that it is an “absolute imperative” that Ukraine and other former Soviet Republics such as Georgia are not admitted to NATO. And Moscow wants a legal treaty stating this exclusion.

A quick reality-check amusingly reminds us that Moscow has precedent on its side of the argument. The talks between U.S., NATO and Russian officials this week are being conducted in Geneva and Vienna, the cities of two European countries, Switzerland and Austria, that are obliged to remain neutral from any military alliance.

That non-aligned status is part of the Swiss and Austrian constitutions. But part of the neutrality also stems from international consensus based on the sensitive geopolitical position of both countries in the aftermath of wars in Europe.

Continue reading→

Standing at a crossroads, by Claudio Grass

We have two choices: totalitarianism and a command economy, or freedom and capitalism. From Claudio Grass at claudiograss.ch:

“The more we gained knowledge of these new totalitarian systems of mass-rule, the more we realized not only their similarity of structure, but also the fact that we had to do with a type of dominance that had been known in earlier epochs. We discovered that what the ancients called “tyrannis,” or ‘cheirokratia,” what Sulla or the tyrants of the Italian Rennaissance had practised, and what finally alarmed the world in the French Revolution and under Napoleon, had surprisingly many similarities with modern totalitarianism, although this latter had elements with which they cannot be compared, and although it possessed means of domination unknown in past ages.”

Willhelm Röpke

This is an old quote I very much admire, it is as relevant today as it was in the past. History does not repeat but it does rhyme. Therefore, I believe it is fair to say that the world has already changed tremendously over the past few months in an irreversible way. The current central planners are already promoting the future reality they have in store for us – to let the old economy and system crash and prepare for government-controlled and planned transition into a new economy that is “green and emission-free”. The new Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is ready to finance this “man-made paradise” that we have analyzed in detail in the previous two issues of this magazine. The digitalization shift that occurred over the last 20 years also massively contributes and accelerates this process.

Of course, this technology, like any other, can be used for good or evil, for decentralization and increased independence, or for the concentration of power in the hands of the few and for the exertion of control over everyone else.  The government naturally prefers the latter, as it recognized its practical value. We see real-life implementations of this more and more over the last few years. The establishments and promotion of “anointed experts”, who practice the art of divination while playing God and making decisions “for the greater good”, will inevitably lead to a relentless technocratic system of governance, if it hasn’t already, where individuals as treated as units, to be counted and to be tallied, in a vain attempt to forcefully balance a meaningless equation.

In the end, and this must be clear by now, this path leads to the full-scale nationalization of the private economy, to a system without private property rights and without individual liberty. The political measures in connection with the Corona crisis have already served as a preview to that bleak future. They also highlighted that the greatest losers in that system are the poorest, the weakest and the most marginalized among us, as low-income workers and small business owners were the hardest hit by the lockdowns and the shutdowns and they’ll be the last to recover, if they recover at all, which seems increasingly unlikely.

Continue reading→

Switzerland: “Creeping EU Accession”, by Soeren Kern

Unfortunately, Switzerland is becoming more like the rest of Europe. From Soeren Kern at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • The EU has now increased the pressure by resorting to blackmail: Brussels is making its recognition of Switzerland’s SIX Swiss Exchange, the fourth-largest stock market in Europe, contingent on Swiss acceptance of the framework agreement.
  • The measure was opposed by a coalition of Swiss business groups, which convincingly argued that it was a question of economics and access to international markets for the export-dependent country. “Ultimately, it is about maintaining prosperity in Switzerland and keeping the companies and jobs here,” said Monika Rühl, director of the business group Economiesuisse.
  • “The SVP rejects a one-sided submission to EU institutions, aimed at establishing an institutional connection of Switzerland to the EU apparatus, with a dynamic EU legal takeover and, ultimately, the subordination of Switzerland to the EU Court of Justice. A dynamic adoption of EU law would be another massive erosion of our direct democracy.” — Swiss People’s Party.
(Image source: iStock)

Swiss voters have resoundingly rejected a referendum calling for the Swiss Constitution to take precedence over international treaties and law.

Two-thirds (66.2%) of voters in the November 25 referendum opposed the “self-determination” initiative, put forward by the eurosceptic Swiss People’s Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei, SVP), the largest party in the Swiss parliament.

Continue reading

World’s Most Wanted Bank Whistleblower Was Just Arrested, for the Worst Possible Reason, by Don Quijones

Will Spain turn over a whistleblower to Switzerland in exchange for two Catalonian separatists held by the Swiss? It would be a sordid deal. From Don Quijones at wolfstreet.com:

For a prisoner exchange between Switzerland and Spain? 

Hervé Falciani, the French-Italian former HSBC employee who blew the whistle on HSBC and 130,000 global tax evaders in 2008, has been arrested in Madrid on Tuesday in response to an arrest warrant issued by Switzerland for breaking the country’s bank secrecy laws.

He lives in France, which rarely extradites its own citizens. But when Spanish authorities learned that he was in town to speak at a conference ominously titled, “When Telling the Truth is Heroic,” they made their move. If he is extradited to Switzerland he could face up to five years in prison.

Falciani worked as a computer technician for HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary. One day in 2008, he left the office with five computer disks containing what would eventually become one of the largest leaks of banking data in history.

According to Swiss authorities, Falciani stole and then attempted to sell a trove of confidential data. Falciani says he was a whistleblower who wanted to expose a “broken” banking system, “which encouraged tax evasion.”

When much of the stolen data was leaked to the press in 2015, it revealed, among other sordid things, that HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary routinely allowed clients to withdraw “bricks of cash,” often in foreign currencies of little use in Switzerland. It also colluded with clients to conceal undeclared “black” accounts from their domestic tax authorities and provided services to international criminals, corrupt businessmen, shady dictators and murky arms dealers.

As Falciani would soon find out, snitching on one of the world’s biggest banks and 130,000 of its richest clients does not make you a popular person in a country famed for its banking secrecy. In 2014 he was indicted in absentia by the Swiss federal government for violating the country’s bank secrecy laws and for industrial espionage. A year later he was sentenced by Switzerland’s federal court to five years in prison – the “longest sentence ever demanded by the confederation’s public ministry in a case of banking data theft.”

To continue reading: World’s Most Wanted Bank Whistleblower Was Just Arrested, for the Worst Possible Reason

He Said That? 8/8/17

From Diccon Bewes, English travel writer, Swiss Watching: Inside Europe’s Landlocked Island, 2010:

The Swiss are rich but like to hide it, reserved yet determined to introduce themselves to everyone, innovative but resistant to change, liberal enough to sanction gay partnerships but conservative enough to ban new minarets. And they invented a breakfast cereal that they eat for supper. Privacy is treasured but intrusive state control is tolerated; democracy is king, yet the majority don’t usually vote; honesty is a way of life but a difficult past is reluctantly talked about; and conformity is the norm, yet red shoes are bizarrely popular.

It is perhaps no surprise that the Swiss are contradictory, given how divided their country is. Since its earliest days Switzerland has faced geographic, linguistic, religious and political divisions that would have destroyed other countries at birth. Those divisions have been bridged, though not without bloodshed, but Switzerland remains as paradoxical as its people. While modern technology drives the economy, some fields are still harvested with scythes (all the hilly landscape’s fault); it’s a neutral nation yet it exports weapons to many other countries; it has no coastline but won sailing’s America’s Cup and has a merchant shipping fleet equal in size to Saudi Arabia’s. As for those national stereotypes, well, not all the cheese has holes, cuckoo clocks aren’t Swiss and the trains don’t always run exactly on time.

Can Switzerland Survive Today’s Assault on Cash and Sound Money? by Marcia Christoff-Kurapovna

Switzerland is not libertarian perfection, but it’s probably closer to that ideal than any other place on the planet. From Marcia Christoff-Kurapovna at mises.org:

“Switzerland will have the last word,” wrote Victor Hugo in the late 19th century. “It possesses one of the most perfect forms of government in the world.” A contemporary of his, Frederick Kuenzli, a scholar of the Swiss Army, boasted: “No purer type of Republican ideals, no more fixed and devoted adherence to those ideals can be found in all the world than in Switzerland.”

On many levels, there is reason to believe that, indeed, Switzerland remains a unique oasis of rationality and intelligence in the ocean-wide bloodbath that is contemporary Western fiscal and social self-sabotage. On the other hand, there is the Swiss National Bank — the central bank — that oddly appears to be encouraging the same monetary policy dance-with-death that has tripped up the country’s masochistic neighbors. How viable yet is the Swiss element in that which we still admire as the nation of Switzerland? First the good news:

Direct democracy is alive and kicking: No mere opinion poll, the power and vibrancy of the referendum — one that can be launched by any local who can gather 100,000 signatures in support — constitutes one of the most impressive displays of true citizen-republicanism that there is. There is an upcoming vote on the Swiss Sovereign Money Initiative — a movement to obstruct financial speculation; recent referendums that were voted into law include a phasing out of nuclear energy to be replaced by renewables, and easier naturalization of third-generation immigrants.

Cash is still very much king and carrying around personal debt is a social blackmark. In fact, the love of cash has a counter-cultural dimension to it as an anti-State, anti-globalist, anti-anti-privacy gesture intended to underscore the Swiss love of freedom. The Swiss will use huge denominations (the 1000-franc note, for example) like they use pocket change to pay for everything from monthly utility bills to buying a sandwich. Professionals regularly will pay their cantonal taxes by showing up at municipal offices and unrolling a wad of bank notes. No one bats an eye. The country’s long tradition of banking secrecy has instilled a love for the untraceable privacy conferred by cash notes and coins. In fact, so serious is the Swiss demand for privacy that the federal government appoints its own public data security officer and banking secrecy remains fully in force for domestic customers.

To continue reading: Can Switzerland Survive Today’s Assault on Cash and Sound Money?

The Empire Needs an Emperor, by Bill Bonner

There is much to admire about Switzerland, its politics, and its governance, especially compared to what the US has become. From Bill Bonner at bonnerandpartners.com:

BUENOS AIRES – Type Swiss President “Doris Leuthard” into Google.

You will get about 450,000 results.

Do the same with Donald Trump, and the number is closer to 396 million.

That’s 87,900% more references.

The world’s press is as fascinated by President Trump as it is indifferent to President Leuthard.

What will Ms. Leuthard do next?

What outrageous new tweet will she send out? Whom will she attack?

No one seems to care…

And yet, though we have never met either one of them, we have a suspicion.

Ms. Leuthard is probably decent, earnest, and wholesome. She has never killed anyone, and it would take her a while to even get used to insulting people.

Mr. Trump, on the other hand, is in another category. Impervious to ridicule as to the fires of hell, he is especially well suited for the role he has been given.

Mr. Trump accused “conservatives” of blocking his health care reform.

The conservatives say they want real change, not fake reform.

That was yesterday.

Today, he tells them to “obey or else,” according to The Washington Post. And who knows – he may join with Democrats to override the Freedom Caucus veto.

Grand Chutzpah

In Switzerland, the president barely ever sells a newspaper and rarely chases the child molesters and fallen sports heroes from the headlines.

When Ms. Leuthard appears on the TV, people go out for a drink. They don’t know and don’t care who she is.

Because it doesn’t matter.

Switzerland has no troops stationed in foreign countries. It does not seek to slay dragons on the sands of Syria or Iraq.

The Swiss president doesn’t presume to restrict travel, threaten to cut off funds to cities, or propose more money for crony industries.

Political power in Switzerland is local. It is constrained by local assemblies, local voters, and local customs.

Much like the U.S. before the War Between the States, Switzerland’s states, called cantons, still have power of their own.

It’s one of the most decentralized systems in the world. There is no “Swiss” national debt; each canton issues its own debt. And each suffers the consequences if it’s not repaid.

To continue reading: The Empire Needs an Emperor

They Said That? 5/21/15

A new Renaissance may be right around the corner. From the movie The Third Man (1949):

In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace—and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock.