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How to Explain the High Prices in Switzerland?

  • Christoph Sax
  • Rolf Weder
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    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.

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    Article provided by Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES) in its journal Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics.

    Volume (Year): 145 (2009)
    Issue (Month): IV (December)
    Pages: 463-483

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    Handle: RePEc:ses:arsjes:2009-iv-8
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    1. 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.
    2. Kenneth Rogoff, 1996. "The Purchasing Power Parity Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 647-668, June.
    3. 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.
    4. Peter Kugler & Beatrice Weder, 2004. "International Portfolio Holdings and Swiss Franc Asset Returns," Working papers 2004/08, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    5. Bela Balassa, 1964. "The Purchasing-Power Parity Doctrine: A Reappraisal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72, pages 584.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. Tommaso Mancini Griffoli & Christoph Meyer & Jean-Marc Natal & Attilio Zanetti, 2014. "Determinants of the Swiss Franc Real Exchange Rate," Working Papers 2014-08, Swiss National Bank.
    10. 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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