BUSINESS ABROAD: Watch on the Rhine

The methodical Swiss, who think that there is a place for everything, staunchly believe that the place for industry is in cartels. Over the years, no Swiss business has been more tightly cartelized than the watch industry, whose three basic cartels 1) fix prices for export, 2) require makers and assemblers to buy their parts at fixed rates, and 3) prescribe minimum profit margins for members of 25%. A special policing committee checks on firms that duck the complex rules and regulations, slaps fines of up to $25,000 on violators.

But last week there were signs that the iron grip...

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