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The Progressive Construction of the Swiss Financial Competitive Advantage (1914-1936)

Alain Laurent Maître de conférences en sciences économiques, directeur, faculté d’économie de Grenoble, Centre de recherche en économie de Grenoble (CREG).
Guillaume Vallet Agrégé de sciences sociales, maître de conférences en sciences économiques, faculté d’économie de Grenoble, CREG. Contact :

This article aims at explaining how Switzerland succeeded in building a major competitive advantage in the financial sector. From a historical perspective, we show that the period 1914-1936 was decisive in Swiss monetary history, Switzerland moving from a status of minor international financial centre to a major place, with the development of very powerful actors like banks. Hence we highlight that if the banking and financial industry played an important role in this process, such a competitive advantage solidified durably only thanks to a national coalition around the conservation of the value of the Swiss franc. In particular, the industry of goods was at the core of such a coalition. The fetishism of the Swiss franc during this period appears to have been a decisive factor for the financial specialisation of Switzerland.

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