(Bloomberg) -- The Swiss economy slumped the most in at least four decades as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with private consumption and investment plummeting.
First-quarter gross domestic product plunged 2.6%, data from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs on Wednesday showed. That compares with a 2.1% hit in a Bloomberg survey of economists and is the biggest three-month contraction since the start of the time series in 1980.
Like neighboring France and Germany, Switzerland responded to the pandemic by winding down much of public life. Business closures across the continent have also crimped trade in goods and investment.
While government subsidies have kept a lid on unemployment and helped companies avoid a cash crunch, the SECO expects the economy to shrink 6.7% this year before staging a slow recovery in 2021.
Machine industry group Swissmem said that 80% of its member companies were forced to apply for short-time work, and that the full impact of the pandemic wouldn’t be felt by the sector until the second or third quarter of this year.
To prevent the rallying haven franc from hurting the economy still further, the Swiss National Bank has stepped up the pace of its currency interventions. Its deposit rate is already at a record low of -0.75%.
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