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Discussion Board n°27, 29/04/22

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has prompted western businesses and/or high-profile brands either to exit the country, to stay or to suspend operations. In reaction, Russia is threatening to nationalise tangible and intangible assets of exiting western companies. Should corporations be encouraged (why and by whom) to take decisions on non-economic grounds (for instance moral)? Is today the moment to re-open the debate of the 1990s on “do corporations have consciousness”?

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Discussion Board n°26, 25/03/22

In response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the international community has shown willingness to respond but differences and hesitations about the type of instruments, the actors to target and the level of response. The spectrum goes from possible rapid accession of Ukraine to the EU, to economic sanctions. What kind of sanctions should be taken and by whom (governments, companies) in this situation?

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Virus To Vitamin n°24, 28/01/22

After trillions of dollars have been injected to contain the economic damage from the pandemic, inflation has suddenly come back on the radar and it may not be transitory as central banks early hoped. While inflation may hurt the interests of savers and creditors, it may also be beneficial for debtors (eg. business or governments). In your view, what are the main the threats, but also possibly the main opportunities related to inflation.

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Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC)

Following the financial crisis of 2008, the nature of money and monetary creation have become topics of debate in several countries. In Switzerland, the debate over the creation of an “electronic franc” (ie. a central bank digital currency) will surely gain momentum in the coming years. The proposal gained the support of some elected officials and senior executives in the financial sector who saw in it a credible alternative to the “Full Money” initiative, allowing central banks to retain a sure footing in payments in the face of the rise of private cryptocurrencies, while leaving untouched the freedom of commercial banks to develop credit activities and attract deposits.

On 14 March 2018, the Wermuth Postulate (N° 18.3159) was submitted, asking the Federal Council to elaborate a report on the feasibility and stakes of the creation of a cryptofranc (“Etablir un rapport sur la faisabilité et les enjeux de la création d’un cryptofranc”). Simultaneously, on 15 March 2018, Guillaume Barazzone submitted an Interpellation entitled “Un cryptofranc pour la Suisse?”. The Postulate, accepted by the Parliament, forces the Federal Council to study this topic and provide a report on it.

The question is all the more important since companies like Facebook are now proposing their own private payment system combining big data and cryptocurrencies. The risks, however, are significant with private payment systems combining speculation and use of personal data.

Given the importance of this issue for our payment system and in anticipation of the public debate that will develop, the Observatoire de la Finance has deepened the study of this issue in a report analyzing the opportunities, risks and impacts of central bank digital currencies.

The report, which can be downloaded below in several languages, exists in 2 versions:

An « international version » concerning potentially any state

A « Swiss version » focused more specifically on the Swiss case