Gnomes of Zurich


Also found in: Idioms.

Gnomes of Zurich

A pejorative term for bankers in Switzerland. They acquired this nickname because of their reputation for discrete and indeed secretive policies. Harold Wilson coined the term in 1956 when he was the British shadow chancellor of the exchequer and believed that Swiss bank speculators were artificially weakening the pound.
References in periodicals archive ?
"Then Jack turned to Jim and said how the Gnomes of Zurich had to be given what for."
But then what do the gnomes of Zurich know about finance?
As in the phrase 'gnomes of Zurich,' which refers to bankers, gnomes are often associated with the world of finance.
All that wonderful technology and the footballing gnomes of Zurich are still sitting around in the stone age resisting anything more technologically advanced than a whistle.
He wants the land of the cuckoo clock, the gnomes of Zurich and Alpine mountains abolished -- and the land shared between its neighbours France, Italy and Germany.
Mind you, this is Switzerland, that neutral nation of cuckoo clocks, money and gnomes of Zurich.
The Gnomes of Zurich, a phrase coined by a disparaging Harold Wilson in 1956, are not immune from the credit fall-out.
The day he played an idiot the Gnomes of Zurich decided to cough up on money stolen by the Nazis from their victims.