Winner of the New Statesman SPERI Prize in Political Economy 2016

Tuesday 10 July 2012


Among economics bloggers its now getting almost de rigueur to have the occasional post linking to music, and there are also many that recommend (non-economics) books. Here is my version of something similar but different. However there is an economics question at the end of the first paragraph.

                I went briefly to Zurich for the first time recently, and liked the city a lot. It is of course very expensive: 6 Swiss Francs (about 5 Euros, £4 or $6) for a half litre of bottled water in a restaurant. However one thing that surprised me was the large number of (what seemed to be) small independent shops, in some cases selling individually made artisan products like furniture or jewellery.  Not so much on the west bank: Bahnhofstrasse is full of the designer label shops that those working for the likes of Credit Suisse presumably spend their money. But the Old Town and Niederdorf areas seemed quite different, and also different from a similar sized UK city, where such shops would be confined to less central, and normally cheaper, areas. Is this my imagination, or is there some economic explanation? You would imagine rents in central Zurich would be pretty high.
                For anyone with time to spare in Zurich, check out the Law Library which is part of the university area. The interior has been designed by Santiago Calatrava (usually known for his bridges), and is very impressive. We also went to see the new Zentrum gallery in Bern which houses many works by one of my favourite artists, Paul Klee. The building is designed by Renzo Piano, and is like three hills that form part of the landscape. I couldn’t help thinking of the contrast with the Beaubourg is Paris, which Piano designed 30 years earlier with Richard Rogers and Gianfranco Franchini, and which shouts its presence and contrast with the elegant Parisian streets that surround it. Anyway here is one of my favourite Klee pictures (Ad Parnassum).


  1. I guess you could compare Bahnhofstrasse to Regent Street, and Niederdorf to Berwick / Poland Streets in Soho. Not very far away one from each other, but a huge difference in shops, and probably a huge difference in rents.
    By the way, you would have found Zurich a lot more affordable if you had visited it before the crisis, when the Pound traded 50% higher than now against the franc (and a lot more expensive if the SNB hadn't set a threshold against the euro last year).

  2. I like ur post an excellent alternative for non-economic matters to lighted up things in these revolving times. One note about the water: 5 € is certainly expensive for any standard but any bottled water is also aprox 1.000 times more expensive than tap water (in Europe at least) plus it brings additional problems related with relocation of resources environment and socioeconomic. I invite u to see this breve video that as an economist I think you might like THE STORY OF BOTTLED WATER you can find it in YouTube and then also the documentary WORLD WATER WARS. Would love to hear your opinion on the matter. I m not n expert either in Econ nor environment so ny insights are very welcome. From Madrid Spain thanks for your time. Jacobo

  3. Greetings! Were you able to execute all the options of this blog by yourself or you got professional help?


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