LOMBARD ODIER: A CAUTIOUS OUTLOOK FOR SWISS INVESTORS

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Amid various trade disputes, Johan Utterman, head of Swiss equities at Lombard Odier Asset Management, sees some Swiss large and medium caps well-positioned in case of an economic downturn, especially companies in the tech sector.

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A stock exchange that measures social returns
As impact investing gains in popularity, the industry is coming under mounting pressure to develop standards for evaluating real change. Karen Wendt, CEO of Eccos Impact, says one “market solution to end the mess” would involve setting up a stock exchange for these assets.

With Switzerland’s two green parties making historic gains in national elections yesterday, UBS Switzerland’s chief economist Daniel Kalt says he expects more regulations to come concerning sustainability. But he warns against bans or excessive government intervention, calling for incentives such as a tax on carbon emitting fossil fuels instead.

Ahead of the IMF meeting in Washington D.C. and the Brexit vote in the UK, Simon Evenett of the University of St. Gallen talks about the future of multilateral agreements and globalization in general. In his view, the large economies are moving in a “free for all” direction where countries won’t respect the rules and will grab as much market share of the world market as they can. “I think it is the wrong way to go,” says Evenett.

Climate concerns are key among voters ahead of this Sunday’s national elections. Turnout is also expected to pass 50 percent for the first time in 40 years.

The shift from analog to digital is leaving Swiss watchmakers behind amid growing demand for watches that do much more than tell time. Apple has grabbed about 50 percent of the smartwatch market in just five years and will probably sell more watches this year than the entire Swiss industry, says Alexander Linz, head of content at WatchAdvisor.com.

In recent months, there has been a backlash against robo-advising. But Adriano Lucatelli, co-founder and CEO of Descartes Finance, sees the current negative-interest-rate environment as being advantageous to robo-advisers since saving costs is crucial for consumers.

Smile, the direct insurance arm of Helvetia, says it benchmarks itself against tech companies like Netflix, as it looks to shake-up the industry with its monthly subscription model and mobile-first approach. CEO Pierangelo Campopiano is targeting premium volumes of CHF 100 million in the next year.

The Swiss franc is still trading at roughly the same level against the euro as a month ago, when the Swiss National Bank refrained from cutting rates. “That’s a surprise,” says Karsten Junius, chief economist of Bank J. Safra Sarasin, adding that it shows the Swiss economy didn’t need another round of easing.

The latest grounding of the Swiss A220 fleet over engine concerns has impacted 100 flights and roughly 10,000 passengers. It’s the third incident for this aircraft since July. CNNMoney Switzerland’s Olivia Chang reports on the latest details.

Why the IMF may need to cut its growth forecasts even more
The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday cut its growth forecast for the global economy to 3 percent this year and 3.4 percent in 2020. Patrice Gautry, chief economist at UBP, says the outlook for next year is still “very, very ambitious,” even assuming an imminent pickup in global trade.

The key to a successful property sale is transparency, says Patrice Choffat, whose proptech start-up Bestag matches home sellers with property brokers. He warns that systemic problems in the Swiss property transaction market is costing sellers.

The Libra Association is meeting in Geneva to review a charter and appoint a board of directors. But with big backers like Mastercard, Visa, PayPal and eBay abandoning the project, the question now is how big banks are approaching the digital currency. Citi’s Chief Innovation Officer Vanessa Colella is taking a cautious approach: “As banks we are custodians of a safe and sound financial system.” In her view, Citi is not “jumping on” in any sense, because what the company needs to do should be both forward-looking and prudent.

Repaying public debt “a waste,” create sovereign fund instead, says report
Paying back public debt in a low interest rate environment is inefficient, says Cédric Tille, economics professor at The Graduate Institute Geneva. In a new research report, he argues that Switzerland could run a deficit and finance a sovereign wealth fund instead. “We have an asset ‘the brand of Switzerland’: Why not use it,” he says.