Saturday, August 16, 2014

Swiss Lessons for Greeks...

My wife's sister is visiting from Greece and we travelled to Switzerland for a few days to visit our son in Zurich. It didn't take my wife's sister too long to figure out that Switzerland is a very wealthy country. She asked me to explain to her why this was so and, since she is a first-grade grammar school teacher with no knowledge of economics, she asked me to explain it in simple terms.

I set out in a roundabout way and explained that Switzerland was a small country where the mountains made up much of the territory and only left limited space for agriculture. That Switzerland really doesn't have any natural resources. That the Swiss, a highly skilled and industrious people, make up for that by importing raw materials, processing them and exporting finished products. That, in the process, they manage to be Europe's record holder in terms of trade and current account surplus --- which makes them wealthy.

My sister-in-law cut me short and said: "Oh, they are doing the opposite from us Greeks. We export raw materials and import finished products".

Not bad for a first-grade grammar school teacher with no knowledge of economics. Not bad at all!


  1. Klaus, which is the most brisk, vibrant city, but also, picturesque, with interesting places to visit, good bar-restaurants,various events and museums: Basel, Bern,Geneva,Lausanne or Zurich?


    1. Leaving out Geneva, which I don't know well, I would pick Zurich among the remaining.