UBS Chairman Weber Warns ‘Don’t Shoot Holes’ in Swiss Economy

Axel Weber, chairman of Switzerland’s biggest bank, warned against adopting popular measures that risk hurting the country’s economic competitiveness.

“You’re in a small boat,” the chairman of UBS AG told the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce today. “If you shoot holes in your boat, it’s harder to sail troubled waters.”

Swiss voters in February approved an initiative to limit the number of foreign workers coming into the country. Last week, voters rejected a proposal for setting the world’s highest national minimum wage as well as the planned purchase of Gripen fighter jets from Sweden’s Saab AB.

“Some initiatives that we’ve seen recently took a shot at the underlying liberal spirit of a market-oriented Swiss economy,” said Weber, 57. “Don’t continue to shoot at the boat because that could have a negative impact going forward.”

Weber said he’s “not nervous” about the effects of the referendum limiting overseas workers because he has “full trust” that the government will implement the measures without endangering the economy.

Weber also said he expects the Swiss National Bank’s cap on the franc to the euro to remain for “some time” as the central bank tries to support the economy’s competitiveness and resilience.

“The Swiss National Bank is the most quantitatively-eased central bank of all central banks in the world,” Weber said, adding that the SNB’s balance sheet is close to the size of Swiss economy. “That is a very big involvement of the balance sheet of the central bank in the economy. The problem and the challenge is unwinding it.”

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