New words for new realities

High-price islanders on rough seas

Did you see them all in their expensive yachts, slimline canoes and red paddle boats setting off across the crystal-clear water – or were they travelling in the endless lines of huge SUVs, comfy family cars, smart limos and beaten-up bangers queuing up in lengthy traffic jams for hours on end at the national borders, mainly at weekends? Later on the same people could be seen pushing shopping trolley upon shopping trolley down the supermarket lanes, filling them up with as many bargain buys as they could get their hands on: when the Swiss National Bank announced that it would no longer hold the Swiss franc at a fixed exchange rate with the euro on 15 January 2015, something of a temporary mass exodus was triggered from the high-price island of Switzerland to EU shopping meccas such as Weil am Rhein, Lörrach and Konstanz.

Whatever the advantages of low (euro) prices in Switzerland's neighbouring countries (certainly a bonus for shopping tourists), the Swiss economy is still recoiling from the so-called "Swiss franc shock": GDP is stagnating, zero and negative interest rates are directing capital to unwanted areas and the holes in the pension funds are getting bigger – so the jury of Migros Bank and finews.ch were quick to come up with the Financial Word of the Year, as was the SRF 3 jury with the Word of the Year: "Frankenschock" ('Swiss franc shock') and "Einkaufstourist" ('shopping tourist'). As the hordes return from shopping in paradise, there's still a tough coconut to crack back home  ...