Swiss banking secrecy was considered impenetrable. Hans-Rudolf Merz, member of the Swiss Federal Council, became famous for calling it ‘a nut too hard to crack’ (in German he said that “An diesem Bankgeheimnis werdet ihr euch die Zähne ausbeissen” but this statement cannot be directly translated into English). Well, he was wrong, wasn’t he? The Swiss Government has announced to implement the automatic exchange of information in tax matters by 2018.
How can we account for this dramatic change? In the project on the demise of Swiss banking secrecy, I am trying together with Katrin Eggenberger to explain why Switzerland wasn’t able to defend banking secrecy and why collective action at the international level suddenly became a possibility. More information on the project can be found on the project website.