Swiss financial affairs have long been a thing of mystery and wonder. Aside from the general disdain expressed by foreign governments toward Switzerland’s public and private banking institutions, the Swiss franc is not a coin that lends itself to be easily shortchanged. Swiss bank accounts have had fame and notoriety in the past for stark confidentiality agreements as well as attractive investment management options which allowed for a growing number of Swiss bank accounts to be opened by the likes of white collar criminals. And that’s exactly where the misconception is - Swiss bank accounts aren’t popular because of anonymity, they’re in demand because of the unparalleled financial security. One of the biggest reasons these bank accounts are able to thrive so well in such an isolated economy is because the Swiss franc has been a fierce champion for growth and stability. These financial tenets are more easily boasted than achieved, but against all odds the Swiss currency has provided a fiscal anchor in the sea of global economic uncertainty.
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As of late, the value of the dollar has appreciated compared to other currencies, and one currency that the effects are evident in is the euro. The fall of the euro has been increased due to the willingness of investors to move their assets out of the Eurozone, and into “safe havens” like the U.S., Denmark, and Switzerland. The difference between the European and American monetary policies has been a catalyst for investors reallocating their portfolios, looking for bigger gains. A major difference playing a role is that euro will be further pushed down against the dollar, as the European Central Bank is holding interest rates, while the U.S. Fed Reserve is looking to raise the rates.
In the last five years, many economies around the world went through a recession or had their growth stunted significantly due to the financial crisis. Although Europe seemed to have the worst economic effects from the crisis, the new 2012-2013 Global Competitive Index produced by the World Economic Forum reported that European economies are still the strongest economies in the world. Switzerland grabbed the top spot in the rankings, and Europe was well represented towards the top of the list.
After spending a month in Europe, the country that caught my attention the most was Switzerland. It is a small country, but there is great diversity there. The city I visited was Geneva and I was amazed by the gorgeous nature as well the high prices. However, what surprised me the most was the fact that high end stores such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci were enjoying a decent amount of customers and getting dinner at a restaurant around 8pm was impossible without a reservation.
Check out this ranking of the top MBA programs outside the US, from BusinessWeek. Just in case you're curious, here are the contenders: