The recovery is here! † economysuisse

Advances in vaccination are greatly reducing the negative economic impact of the pandemic. In many industrialized countries, restrictions are gradually being lifted. Consumption is increasing worldwide. Where many companies were hesitant last year, they are again investing heavily. The acceleration of global economic growth also leads to an increase in the demand for raw materials. This causes the prices of, for example, light metals, steel or oil to rise. The United States and China are driving global growth and helping to boost the export industry in Europe. For example, the European machine industry and the German car industry are recovering quickly after the collapse suffered in 2020 due to the crisis. Impulses from abroad support the European economy, which is lagging behind the world economy to some extent.

Robust growth rates in industries particularly affected by the pandemic

The recovery of the Swiss economy can be characterized as follows: the sectors that have suffered the most over the past year generally show high growth rates in 2021. This applies to both the export sector and the more domestically oriented sectors. In the goods export segment, the machinery, electrical equipment and metal, textile and watch industries are currently experiencing a strong increase in international demand and are therefore experiencing strong growth compared to a tough 2020 due to the crisis. The same goes for industries that have been hit hard – directly or indirectly – by the closures and restrictions imposed by the authorities. In the travel, tourism, gastronomy and retail sectors, value creation is again increasing significantly, but it would be an illusion to expect a return to pre-crisis levels already in 2021: the recovery in international tourist traffic is timid and it will months before trade fairs, conferences and major events are organized to the same extent as before the crisis. In the air traffic, hotels and events sectors, the revival will therefore only come about with some delay.

Continued positive development in sectors of the future

Fortunately, the economic recovery is not limited to the sectors that suffered during the pandemic. Sectors that have managed to create value, or even expand their value creation in 2020, are optimistic about the future. For example, the chemical, pharmaceutical and medical technology sectors are showing uninterrupted growth, which will continue this year and next, especially in the segments negatively affected by the crisis. The health sector as a whole will also grow. In the service sector, the growth trend in insurance will continue. Bank value creation will also increase in 2021/2022, albeit at a somewhat slower pace. Due to the positive but challenging economic environment, demand for business advisory services will also remain strong. In addition to strong economic growth, there is also an increasing demand for employment agencies.

In the construction sector, the situation is somewhat different. While a slight decline to a high level was observed in 2020, value creation will pick up again in 2021. In the main construction sector, new orders are significantly higher than in 2020. However, sharp price increases for construction materials sometimes act as a brake. Private residential and non-residential construction is expected to increase this year and next, as is government construction. Value creation should also increase slightly in the food industry this year and next. In contrast to the growth sectors, telecommunications and print will continue to show negative growth figures due to the necessary structural adjustments.

Strong increase in household consumption

Many consumers have saved significant amounts of money during the pandemic. Extensive public support, in particular short-time work allowances, has prevented a collapse in incomes and real wages have risen despite the crisis. Falling unemployment and reduced working time are also supporting private consumption, which is broadly ahead of 2020. Finally, private investment is picking up significantly, after many projects were postponed last year due to significant uncertainties.

Real GDP growth of 3.4% is expected for 2021. The pre-crisis level should therefore be reached again in the fourth quarter. The signs of recovery are also green for next year, GDP should continue to grow at nearly 3%.

Return of inflation, fall in unemployment

The general recovery will in many cases make it possible to return to work or find a new job after a period of partial unemployment, so that there is no need to fear a rise in unemployment. The unemployment rate should therefore fall below 3% again in 2022. Despite the rapid economic recovery, consumer prices in Switzerland are not expected to rise sharply. Price increases will certainly be unavoidable due to shortages, delivery delays and rising raw material and transport costs, but strong foreign competition and the remaining production gap prevent a significant increase in the producer price in Switzerland. With the revival of retail tourism, the rise of online shopping and increased price transparency, it will be difficult in Switzerland to raise prices on a broad front. Inflation will nevertheless return to positive territory.

Growing debt, high asset valuations and uncertain course of the pandemic

The pandemic remains the biggest risk to the Swiss economy. If the epidemiological situation were to deteriorate again, the consequences for the development of the world economy would be very serious. In order not to cloud the positive outlook, it is therefore essential that a large part of the population is vaccinated in the autumn. The multi-year low interest rate policy is another major risk and is largely responsible for the sharp rise in public and private debt in many countries. The pandemic has led to a further rise in debt. The risk of an uncontrolled evolution of the financial markets, the outbreak of a second euro crisis or a strengthening of the Swiss franc cannot therefore be ruled out. The continued rise in property prices in Switzerland and in many countries also increases the risk of sharp market corrections in the future. International politics poses a third risk to the economy. For example, the trade dispute between the United States and China is still simmering and nationalist tendencies could therefore further hinder world trade in the future. Finally, a new downside risk that has been somewhat forgotten of late is emerging: inflation. Admittedly, prices in Switzerland are not expected to rise sharply. However, the rise in commodity prices, coupled with the continuation of an expansionary monetary policy, could revive inflation at the global level. In the medium term, this could also trigger an inflation-inflationary price/wage spiral in Switzerland.

Forecasts on the evolution of national accounts

Variation compared to last year (in %)






Gross domestic product, real






Household consumption






Government spending






Investments in construction






Capital Expenditure






Output (total)1






Input (total)1






1Excluding non-monetary gold and valuables

Price and Employment Forecasts

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Exogenous assumptions*



CHF/EUR exchange rate



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Oil price in USD



Growth in the United States



Growth in the Eurozone



Growth in China



Short interest



Federal Bond Yield



* Values ​​based on economic forecasts

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