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Swiss remain the ‘richest’ in the world… but it’s not all good news

Residents of Switzerland remain on average the richest in the world, a new study has shown. Here's why.

Swiss remain the 'richest' in the world... but it's not all good news

The average Swiss resident has a wealth of CHF557,363 (€506,635), an increase of CHF17565 (€15,961) since last year. 

Switzerland extended its lead over the United States as the country with the highest average wealth. Switzerland experienced the highest wealth growth of any country, followed by the US, Japan, the Netherlands and New Zealand. 

The data comes from Credit Suisse’s annual Global Wealth Report, which has ranked Switzerland at number one every year since it was first published in 2000. 

READ MORE: Why the French are ranked 'more wealthy' than Americans or Germans

Why so rich?

The major reason for the rise in Swiss wealth has been the comparative strength of the franc over the US dollar, particularly due to gains between 2001 and 2013. 

Since the turn of the millennium, wealth has risen by 144 percent for the average Swiss resident when measured in US dollars. When measured in Swiss francs, the rise has been 45 percent. 

Image: Credit Suisse

The news is not all rosy for Switzerland however, with Swiss residents having one of the highest levels of debt anywhere in the world. The average Swiss has CHF140,851 (€127949) in debt – a figure which represents roughly 20 percent of all assets. 

Wealth inequality

While each Swiss resident may on average be worth over half a million francs, the study also showed the level of wealth inequality across the country. Switzerland is home to 810,000 millionaires, an increase of 19,000 millionaires when compared to 2018. 

READ: Swiss richer than ever but wealth inequality persists

The study found that Switzerland had the status of “relatively high wealth inequality”, which makes sense considering that more than one in ten (12 percent) of Swiss adult residents are millionaires. 

Image: Credit Suisse

The report contradicts with one released earlier in 2019 by German insurance giant Allianz who found that the United States had taken over Switzerland as the wealthiest country.

The differing figures between the reports comes down largely due to the way in which debt is included in the totals. 

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EXPLAINED: The everyday items getting more expensive in Switzerland

Inflation in Switzerland climbed to around 3 percent in October. Here’s a look at some of the everyday items that have been rising sharply in price - and the few that are actually going down in cost.

EXPLAINED: The everyday items getting more expensive in Switzerland

Breakfast products going up

Breakfast items are getting more pricey in Switzerland, according to data compiled by the Comparis Consumer Price Index, which tracks the development of goods like food, medicine and clothing. 

In October of this year, prices for everyday goods in Switzerland rose by 3.2 percent compared to the same month last year, according to the index.

But nine typical breakfast ingredients are on average 5.5 percent more expensive compared to a year ago. 

People in Switzerland have to pay more for butter (in increase of 10.7 percent compared to the same month a year ago), margarine, fats and oils (plus 8.9 percent), coffee (plus seven percent), milk, cheese and eggs (plus 5.9 percent) and tea (plus 3.4 percent).

READ ALSO: How does the cost of living in Switzerland compare to other European countries?

The prices of these goods have been rising steadily for several years, the consumer service Comparis found. Since the year 2000, breakfast with the ingredients we mentioned above has become 11.1 percent more expensive on average. The cost of butter, jam, honey, margarine, fats and oils, tea, coffee, bread, flour and cereal products have risen the most over the years.

But it has been accelerating this year as inflation is fuelled by rising energy prices amid Russia’s war on Ukraine. 

“For years, the costs of typical breakfast ingredients have been rising faster than the prices of the entire overall basket of goods,” said Comparis financial expert Michael Kuhn, adding that it was hitting those on lower incomes particularly hard.

Heating costs rocket upwards

Besides some food items, other goods have also become more expensive in the Alpine country. 

Between September and October, the prices for heating (including gas, heating oil and district heating) rose by 8.8 percent, according to the Comparis index. And compared to the previous year, the price of heating rose by as much as 56 percent, according to the index. 

“Heating oil, in particular, became hugely more expensive in October,” said Kuhn.

After heating costs, prices for printed products, men’s and women’s shoes – as well as fruit and vegetable juices – have also shot up in price. The reasons for this could be “poor harvests and increased demand”, Kuhn said. 

READ ALSO: The groups most affected by inflation in Switzerland

What’s not increasing dramatically – or going down in price?

Not all items are rising in cost at the same rate.

The cost of of electricity, for instance, has remained stable since September, and compared to the same month last year, electricity has become about 2.4 percent more expensive. 

Looking at the bigger picture, some products have also gone down in price.

Medicines, small household electrical appliances and body care products have become cheaper over the last few years, according to the index. 

Medicines in Switzerland have seen an average reduction in price by 43 percent since the year 2000.

Electrical household appliances, personal hygiene and telecommunications products – like mobile phones – are now about 30 percent cheaper. Toiletries have also become 14 percent cheaper, the consumer service found.