SWISS BANKS CHALLENGED ON THEIR OWN TURF AND MORE IN BUSINESS UPDATE

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From the latest challenger bank to the first ever crypto bank, the Swiss banking landscape is changing and changing fast. Our editorial team explains why key announcements this week can only be good for Switzerland.

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Swiss border open for business
The 68,000 Italians employed in Switzerland are vital to the economy, says the president of AITI, the industry association of Ticino, which explains why the Swiss border remains open despite the lockdown in neighboring Italy.

World is losing battle to contain coronavirus, says president of ETH Board
Countries including Switzerland are abandoning efforts to keep a precise count of coronavirus cases and are focusing instead on helping hospitals cope with patient overload, says Michael Hengartner, president of the ETH Board and chairman of the Executive Committee. With a pandemic inevitable, the challenge now is to “keep the infection rate low enough that we can always manage patients that need to get hospitalized.”

COVID-19 may tip world into financial crisis, UN warns
The world is vulnerable to a financial crisis if the coronavirus epidemic drags on because it is already so deep in debt, the United Nation’s trade body warned in a report on Monday. An enduring health emergency will likely trigger margin calls, tighten borrowing conditions, and increase the risk of a stampede to sell assets not hit in the first round of market turmoil, the UN Conference on Trade and Development said. “This raises the prospect of a credit crunch in a period of high indebtedness,” despite very low interest rates, the report says. Hopes of a recovery will hinge on sustained and coordinated liquidity injections by central banks, more active fiscal policies, and renewed efforts to bolster trade. “Central banks should do whatever it takes in the face of the COVID-19, including directing credit for production and employment,” UNCTAD said. The world has been on a borrowing binge since the 2008 meltdown, when central banks pumped vast sums into cash-strapped markets and banks to shore up the system. At the start of 2020, total debt stocks exceeded more than $250 trillion, about three times global gross domestic product, according to the Institute of International Finance. Developing countries most at risk Developing countries are particularly vulnerable to a credit crunch, as many are already struggling with the highest debt levels on record. “For many developing countries that are facing debt distress already, I think we’re going to have to look at more radical solutions,” Richard Kozul-Wright, who oversees globalization and development strategies at UNCTAD, said in an interview Monday with CNNMoney’s Kasmira Jefford. “The need for a moratorium on debt servicing in some countries will also be necessary.” Economists have warned for years that such massive debt is a risk for the global economy. Record-low interest rates in countries around the globe have made it easier and cheaper for corporates, individuals, and governments to borrow. Last week, the U.S. Federal Reserve, which cut rates three times last year, slashed them by half a percentage point in response to the economic threat from COVID-19. The European Central Bank meets this week, and markets are pricing in a much smaller cut, given that rates are already in negative territory. There is also speculation that the ECB is preparing measures to provide liquidity to businesses hit by the outbreak.

More women in Swiss boardrooms
The percentage of women on the executive boards of Switzerland’s 100 largest employers has edged up to reach 10% for the first time, according to executive search firm Schilling Partners. When taking into consideration a broader boardroom study by Deloitte, that figure rises above the global average to just under 19%.

Coronavirus is good for the fertility business
The U.N. estimates the economic burden of women’s diseases to be in the tens of millions. But according to Lea von Bidder, CEO of fertility tracking company Ava, only 4% of R&D investment in health care goes towards female-specific health needs. Von Bidder tells us about the femtech gender gap and shares why the coronavirus outbreak is a boon for the fertility business.

Swapping handshakes for elbow bumps
As authorities around the world scramble to contain the coronavirus, people are facing a new dilemma: how to greet someone without a handshake. Here are five suggestions.

Ready, set, go? The latest on Tokyo 2020
Is Japan ready to host the Olympic Games and deal with the coronavirus? CNN International correspondent Blake Essig reports from Japan’s newly-built national stadium in Tokyo.

IOC taking wait-and-see approach to coronavirus
Coronavirus was a major topic at this week’s meeting of the International Olympic Committee’s executive board in Lausanne. But President Thomas Bach says the words “cancellation” and “postponement” never came up. CNNMoney’s Matt Leighton was there and has this update.

Stuck at home? Check out the Swiss government’s emergency kit
Do you know what you need to survive a crisis? If you don’t, fear not—the Swiss government has you covered. Its decades-old list includes bottled water, rice, batteries, and yes, chocolate and cheese.