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How to Explain the High Prices in Switzerland?

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  • Christoph Sax
  • Rolf Weder

Abstract

This article challenges the view that a lack of competition and a high level of regulations are the main causes of Switzerland's high prices. First, we point out a number of stylized facts which are inconsistent with this popular view. Second, we econometrically asses the "competition-regulation hypothesis" together with the well-established determinants from the real exchange rate literature in a panel of 22 OECD countries from 1970 to 2004. We find that changes in the terms of trade and the degree of openness, and to a minor extent in government expenditures and the current account, explain the movements in the Swiss real exchange rate reasonably well over the last 35 years. Changes in regulations and competition as well as in relative productivities perform poorly as explanatory variables.

Suggested Citation

  • Christoph Sax & Rolf Weder, 2009. "How to Explain the High Prices in Switzerland?," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 145(IV), pages 463-483, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ses:arsjes:2009-iv-8
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ulrich Kohli & Jean-Marc Natal, 2014. "The real exchange rate and the structure of aggregate production," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 1-13, August.
    2. Peter Kugler & Beatrice Weder, 2004. "International Portfolio Holdings and Swiss Franc Asset Returns," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 140(III), pages 301-325, September.
    3. Kenneth Rogoff, 1996. "The Purchasing Power Parity Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 647-668, June.
    4. Jean-Marc Natal & Tommaso Mancini Griffoli & Christoph Meyer & Attilio Zanetti, 2015. "Determinants of the Swiss Franc Real Exchange Rate," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 151(IV), pages 299-331, December.
    5. Anita Wölfl & Isabelle Wanner & Tomasz Koźluk & Giuseppe Nicoletti, 2009. "Ten Years of Product Market Reform in OECD Countries: Insights from a Revised PMR Indicator," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 695, OECD Publishing.
    6. Kohli, Ulrich, 2004. "Real GDP, real domestic income, and terms-of-trade changes," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 83-106, January.
    7. Peter Kugler & Beatrice Weder, 2004. "International Portfolio Holdings and Swiss Franc Asset Returns," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 140(III), pages 301-325, September.
    8. Kugler, Peter & Weder di Mauro, Beatrice, 2005. "Why Are Returns on Swiss Franc Assets So Low? Rare Events May Solve the Puzzle," CEPR Discussion Papers 5181, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. De Broeck, Mark & Slok, Torsten, 2006. "Interpreting real exchange rate movements in transition countries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 368-383, March.
    10. Hsieh, David A., 1982. "The determination of the real exchange rate : The productivity approach," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3-4), pages 355-362, May.
    11. Bela Balassa, 1964. "The Purchasing-Power Parity Doctrine: A Reappraisal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72, pages 584-584.
    12. Sanyal, Kalyan K & Jones, Ronald W, 1982. "The Theory of Trade in Middle Products," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 16-31, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Kugler, 2017. "Causes and consequences of long-run currency appreciation: The Swiss case," Aussenwirtschaft, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science, Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economics Research, vol. 68(01), pages 83-100, December.
    2. Matthias Gubler & Christoph Sax, 2019. "The Balassa-Samuelson effect reversed: new evidence from OECD countries," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics, Springer;Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics, vol. 155(1), pages 1-21, December.
    3. Ernst Baltensperger & Peter Kugler, 2016. "The historical origins of the safe haven status of the Swiss franc:," Aussenwirtschaft, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science, Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economics Research, vol. 67(02), pages 1-30, August.
    4. Matthias Flückiger & Christian Rutzer & Rolf Weder, 2016. "Die Schweizer Wirtschaft zwischen Hammer und Amboss: Eine Analyse der "Franken-Schocks" 2010/11 und 2015," Aussenwirtschaft, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science, Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economics Research, vol. 67(03), pages 95-133, December.
    5. Ulrich Kohli & Jean-Marc Natal, 2014. "The real exchange rate and the structure of aggregate production," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 1-13, August.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Real Exchange Rate; Terms of Trade; Balassa-Samuelson; Regulations; Switzerland;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • N74 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - Europe: 1913-

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