1929 - 1934

The Great Depression leads to Swiss banks contracting and focusing more strongly on the domestic market

Swiss Bank Corporation (SBC)
Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS)

Switzerland and the world


Swiss watch industry crisis

The Swiss watch industry faces its biggest crisis. Two thirds of the watch industry's exports collapse and around half of its 60,000 employees lose their jobs. The watch industry holdings SSIH (Société Suisse pour l'Industrie Horlogère) and ASUAG (Allgemeine Schweizerische Uhrenindustrie AG) are founded.

New York stock market crash 1929

The Great Depression begins with the stock exchange crash on Wall Street and rapidly becomes a global economic crisis.

Great Depression in the US


World Cup 1930

The first FIFA World Cup is held in Uruguay.

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), also known as the "central bank for central banks", begins operations. Based in Basel, it was founded for the settlement of German reparation payments from WWI.


Devaluation of the Sterling

Piled gold bars

Britain moves away from the Gold Standard, causing a 30% devaluation of the Sterling.

Austria's Credit-Anstalt, the largest Bank in Central and Eastern Europe, collapses, creating widespread panic across European financial markets. The banking crisis in Austria and in Germany negatively impacts size and performance of the Swiss banks.

The banking crisis in Austria and in Germany negatively impacts size and performance of the Swiss banks.


SBC is Switzerland's largest bank with a balance sheet worth more than 1.341 billion CHF.

Union Bank is forced to reduce its capital from 100 million CHF to 80 million CHF because of the severe contraction in its balance sheet.

Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany.

German President Hindenburg receives Hitler

Switzerland rescues the Schweizerische Volksbank by signing a 100 million Swiss Franc rights issue, equivalent to approximately one quarter of Switzerland's entire national budget.


S.G. Warburg

Sir Siegmund Warburg, Portrait 1972

Siegmund Warburg, German émigré to Britain, co-establishes the New Trading Company in London, the forerunner of the merchant bank S.G. Warburg.

Paine, Webber & Co. plays a key role in the establishment of General Telephone and Electronics, which was to become the largest phone company in the U.S.

Staff magazine

Cover of "SBG Blätter" of Oct 1964

Union Bank launches quarterly staff magazine "SBG Blätter" (which becomes the fortnightly magazine "SBG Information" in 1967).

The United States abandons the Gold Standard. Twenty other countries, excluding Switzerland, had already done so.