Rail­ways, ed­u­ca­tion, banks and busi­nesses

Bulletin - - Editoria -

It may be hard to be­lieve nowa­days, but Switzer­land was a poor coun­try in 1819. In­deed, there were famines in some re­gions. In the course of the 19th cen­tury, hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple em­i­grated from Switzer­land in search of a bet­ter life.

To­day, 200 years later, Switzer­land is among the world’s wealth­i­est, most in­no­va­tive and most com­pet­i­tive na­tions, and one of the most at­trac­tive coun­tries for top ta­lent.

Who, or what, was re­spon­si­ble for this spec­tac­u­lar progress? Al­fred Escher, who would have cel­e­brated his 200th birth­day on Fe­bru­ary 20, 2019, was with­out doubt a key fig­ure. He was in­stru­men­tal in the cre­ation of Switzer­land’s rail­way net­work and the uni­ver­sity now known as the Swiss Fed­eral In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy Zurich (ETHZ), and he founded the Sch­weiz­erische Kred­i­tanstalt, to­day’s Credit Suisse. As his­to­rian Joseph Jung points out, Escher’s sup­port for rail­ways, ed­u­ca­tion and banks made Switzer­land an at­trac­tive lo­ca­tion for in­ter­na­tional busi­nesses (p. 4).

Escher ranks among the great­est busi­ness lead­ers in his­tory. But this Bul­letin spe­cial is­sue, which marks the 200th an­niver­sary of Escher’s birth, is not lim­ited to a dis­cus­sion of the past. It also takes a look into the fu­ture. Escher’s for­mula for suc­cess is as rel­e­vant to­day as it was in his day. A coun­try needs in­fra­struc­ture to achieve pros­per­ity and progress. It needs ed­u­ca­tion and re­search. It needs banks to pro­vide loans and fa­cil­i­tate growth. And it needs en­trepreneurs with the courage and vision to cre­ate new things.

Fo­cus­ing on these four ar­eas, this is­sue pro­files peo­ple and projects that are shap­ing our fu­ture. They in­clude 21 young fe­male en­trepreneurs from five con­ti­nents who are mov­ing the world for­ward (p. 10), as well as the New Silk Road, a mon­u­men­tal project de­signed to forge closer eco­nomic ties be­tween Asia and Europe (p. 26).

This Bul­letin spe­cial is­sue also con­tains some­thing new: the first Credit Suisse Progress Barom­e­ter (p. 55), which re­veals how the Swiss view so­cial and eco­nomic progress. One thing is clear: There is still wide­spread pop­u­lar sup­port for vi­sion­ary projects like those un­der­taken by Escher.

I hope you will find this is­sue both in­ter­est­ing and in­for­ma­tive. Urs Rohner

Chair­man of the Board of Di­rec­tors of Credit Suisse Group

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