Despite horror stories there are bright spots

Lichtblick Tunnel Situation Seco Konsumstimmung Lage Wirtschaft Rezession
The situation is often not as bad as it seems. (Image: Gerd Altmann / pixabay)

The bad news about the way the world is going gives Swiss people the creeps. Yet the situation is really not so bad.

The many reports about the supposed downfall of the world and of slipping into a recession have led to a further clouding of consumer sentiment. This deteriorated further compared to the previous quarter, announced the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) on Tuesday.

The consumer sentiment index fell from minus 42 to minus 47 points compared with the July survey. The barometer thus reached the lowest level since the survey began back in 1972, it added. In the current survey 1,115 people aged 16 and over took part in German, French or Italian.

Financial situation decisive

On the one hand, according to SECO, consumers’ expectations for general economic development in the coming 12 months have deteriorated further. The corresponding sub-index fell from minus 54 to minus 57 points. It is thus far below the long-term average of minus 9 points, it said.

But on the other hand, households once again assessed their financial situation significantly more negatively than in the previous quarter. The subindex on the past financial situation fell from minus 35 to a historically-low value of minus 40 points. Only at the beginning of the 1990s had the situation been rated so   badly.

The sub-index on the expected financial situation also fell to a new low of minus 47 points. In the third quarter SECO had recorded minus 35 points.

Confidence through work shines

However, there are also some surprising bright spots. For example, respondents are still reluctant to make major purchases. At minus 42 points, the corresponding sub-index was well below the historical average. However, it had already been worse in the third quarter at minus 43 points.

And the respondents continue to expect the labor market to be in good shape. Their positive assessment of job security remained virtually unchanged at minus 26 points.

According to SECO, expectations for the development of unemployment figures have clouded over somewhat compared to July. However, at 39 points, the corresponding subindex is still well below the long-term average.

Constant income

In all of this it should not be forgotten that the financial situation for a large part of the population is hardly changing. Civil servants, teachers, doctors, and employees of large corporations continue to receive their salaries, if not a bit more.

Larger purchases, such as new cars, are only possible with difficulty at present anyway, because the delivery times from numerous manufacturers are already over a year long.

Companies are also seeing a lot of bad news, even though things are not that bad in many places, as recently reported. The strong Swiss franc is providing a tailwind. As SECO’s figures over a longer period of time impressively show, the doomsday mood in spring 2020 at the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic was only of a very short duration.

Luxury is booming

At some point people realize that the situation is actually not so bad, and their mood is then likely to lighten up again in various surveys. 

The best solid example of this is the enormous demand for top-of-the-line iPhones. The current 14 Pro model, which is after all a premium product with high technology and in the upper price segment, is sold out despite price increases of around 50 francs, as was recently reported on


Despite horror stories there are bright spots

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