The information event was headed by Dr Stephan Thaler, Managing Director of Swiss Life’s Investment Foundation. Following on from last year’s event, he reported on the "superb prosperity" of the real estate investment group, which was founded at the end of last year.
Sylvia Walter, Senior Economist at Swiss Life Asset Management, gave a positive report on the short-and medium term economic developments. She declared that they had been on track with their optimistic outlook for 2010 and she now forecasts a calm period in the year ahead. However, in view of the government debt, she expects to see a decline in GDP growth over the next five quarters, despite the positive signs.
The highlight of the event was the talk given by the social scientist, economic journalist and NZZ correspondent, Dr. Beat Kappeler. In his talk, which was provocatively titled "The Swiss fear of freedom", he commented on a number of areas where a greater degree of freedom could be achieved if people showed less fear.
He spoke about the free choice of health insurers in selecting service providers, meaning that they could reign in doctors who were prone to exaggerating costs, and that the free choice of schools was good for competition.
He said he thought the second largest Swiss market – the rental market – faced huge obstacles. In his words: "Given the applicable official guarantee on passing interest on to the customer, rent goes up exactly at the time when it should actually fall, namely in times of rising interest rates and weakening economic conditions. After all, since 1945 (with the exception of 1972) rent has been subject to price regulation."
Dr. Beat Kappeler finished on a positive note, declaring that, in comparison to other economic nations, Switzerland had a very well functioning and liberal labour market. Its reserved legal framework creates ideal conditions for virtual full-employment, and it has the world’s largest workforce participation rate for 15 to 64-year-olds.