ZURICH In February Swiss economic expectations fell from near their highest level in more than three-and-a-half years, amid concerns by financial analysts that the vote to re-impose quotas on European Union workers could hurt growth. A survey by the ZEW Institute and Credit Suisse published last week shows the headline index of investor and analyst expectations dropped to 28.7 points from 36.4 points in January, approaching a level not seen since the early stages of the eurozone crisis in May 2010.
The weaker reading, which focuses on expectations for economic development in the next six months, “is likely to be caused by the approval of the national referendum to stop mass immigration, which could impact on employment, investments and the general attractiveness of Switzerland as a business location,” the report said. Immigration has supported economic growth, and roughly a fifth of Switzerland’s eight million inhabitants come from abroad. About 45% of employees in its chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech industry are foreigners. A quarter of Swiss bank employees come from neighbouring EU countries. Conversely, 430,000 Swiss live and work in EU countries.
Switzerland’s current conditions index slipped by 2.4 points month-on-month to 47.6 points in February. Meanwhile, the current conditions indicator for the Eurozone economy improved by 10 points and now amounts to minus 34.2 points, indicating a significantly less gloomy situation.