Jean-Marie MUSY (1876-1952)
President and Swiss  federal councillor


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The Political Career

The Grand Council of Fribourg (Switzerland) elected Jean-Marie Musy in 1911 as State Councillor and he assumed the finance post of the canton of Fribourg.   He gave to the Fribourg Electric Utility company a new business structure which allowed it to become a large commercial business.    For him wisdom and perseverance proceeded in pair, and he placed public interest above all.

In 1914,  a few months after the first world war exploded, he was elected to the National Council and entered the Federal Parliament in Bern.  The financial problem of the Confederation, caused by the mobilization of the Swiss army and securing provisions  for the country, was forced to find new resources necessary to cover these large expenditures.  Mr. Musy was a partner especially qualified  to resolve the financial difficulties, and he undertook the task at once when he entered  Parliament.

The Federal Chamber session opened in the month of December 1919, and Jean-Marie Musy was elected Federal Councillor of Switzerland.  This seat was offered for the first time to the canton of Fribourg.  The Finance department was trusted to the councillor from Fribourg.   In 1920 Switzerland entered into the League of Nations and Mr. Musy campaigned for this grand league of peaceful people and its ideas on the "Wilson" institution.

In 1925 he was nominated President of the Swiss Confederation and the same honor was bestowed again in 1930.  After his second presidency came the world economic crisis and important Swiss Credit establishments had been shaken.   He formulated a law to control Banks and Savings establishments.  Jean Musy did not hesitate to defend the value of the Swiss franc and implement without delay a deflationary policy.  A policy to economize and reduce the expenses of the Confederation had to be utilized.  The events after his retirement from the Federal Council justified the deficit reduction strategy

Because work had becoming stifling at the Federal Council, almost without rest, it consumed prematurely his energy, and he decided to take his retirement in 1934.  After a few months of rest, he could not remain inactive and the Fribourg Conservative Party offered to him a seat at the National Council.  He was brilliantly elected and Mr. Musy put forth several remarkable projects, notably in favor of the mountain workers who had a difficult life.  He took his permanent retirement in 1939 and he once again was more active in the management of the Crédit Gruyérien in Bulle.

From 1936 to 1939, several important Swiss financial organizations, in addition to foreign governments sought his valuable economic recommendations.

 The Financial and Economic Work

The economic and financial accomplishments of J.-M. Musy are particularly important, as they are situated during a difficult period for the Swiss Confederation.  "The come-and-go of crises,  various personalities, devaluations, currency movements,  social unrest, complicated problems to such a point that solution choices constantly required  agreements between the technician and the politician (Gaston Castella)."  In 1925, Mr. Musy was the driving force behind the mintage of the beautiful and unique 100 franc (Vreneli) gold piece.

Amongst the many accomplishments of J.-M. Musy,  ex-President of the Switzerland, the following should be mentioned:

    1) Plan to restructure the Federal finances (1919): the first world war and the economic crisis which followed accumulated a budgetary deficit for the Confederation which surpassed 100 million francs.   Mr. Musy knew how to reduce little by little this debt and reduce the deficit to restore economic balance.  To obtain resources, he proposed taxes on alcohols, beer, luxury consumption and on tobacco.

     2) Wheat regulations (1929): The question concerning supplying the country with cereals was always one of the front-line of the preoccupations of the Swiss Confederation.   Mr. Musy was in opposition to the wheat monopoly which dated from 1885.  He had to show himself as a clever promoter of new customs tariffs which protected Swiss farmers from foreign competition.  He said that "it would be a utopia and a deep economic error to want to extract from the Swiss soil all of the wheat and sugar necessary to feed our people.  This provisional tariff, in its general presentation, is only to provide to the farmers with an indispensable protection to ensure conditions to support a normal existence."

    3) Alcohol regulations (1930):   "It was a matter of erecting a dike to slow the flood of unregulated alcohol distillation which poured onto the country each year."   One of the goals of the legislator was to build a buffer to deter the frightening ravages of alcoholism.   The courageous campaign which he led would provoke many debates, particularly amongst the farmers, and this was a tribute to his independent character.  Jean-Marie Musy said: "I see in alcohol much less of a fiscal target than a public danger."  The alcohol tax reduced consumption by 54% in 20 years and reestablished financial balance for the Swiss Confederation.  This alcohol reform is one of Mr. Musy best work and earns the recognition of citizens.

     4) The monetary plan (1931): the Swiss franc, as with other European currencies was ill, during which balance of payments were in disequilibrium.    Countries in Europe had to chose between inflation or disinflation, and Switzerland did not escape this serious dilemma.   To defend the currency and not to devalue the Swiss franc, Mr. Musy said: "that sales income must be lowered by a readjustment in prices and salaries.  This readjustment will operate in Switzerland without recourse to price control by the government.   The appeal was to common sense and to courage of the Swiss people so that "it will be not take the easy road which leads to the precipice."

     5) The ordinance for government workers (1931): Mr. Musy knew to appreciate human values vis-à-vis economic values.  He worked on a Federal law on behalf of the government workers to improve their living conditions.

     6) Laws regulating Banks and Savings institutions (1934): Jean-Marie Musy was the driving force and the true writer of the Federal law to give financial stability to the national community.  This law insured the financial stability of banks through mandatory and serious control by an independent auditing institution.

Jean-Marie was always concerned about the economic prosperity of Switzerland.  He said about those who lacked courage   "... those who wait in immobility the return to a past that will never return; I believe neither in destiny or in fatalism, in return I believe strongly in the power of creative intelligence, supported by a resolute and courageous determination."

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G. Motta & Jean-Marie Musy
Swiss Parliament Bern
Jean-Marie Musy
Councilor Chamber
100 Fr. Vreneli gold coin 1925
Avenue Jean-Marie Musy
Jean-Marie Musy