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Swiss Banks Boost Capital Bases Despite Coronavirus Crisis 

June 18, 2021

Keystone / Anthony Anex
Swiss banks have been able to strengthen their capital bases despite deteriorating economic conditions during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Swiss National Bank (SNB). This applies to the two big banks, UBS and Credit Suisse, and also domestic banks.
UBS and Credit Suisse now have regulatory capital ratios in line with pre-pandemic levels and fully comply with the legal transparency requirements of the “too big to fail” (TBTF) regulation, according to the 2021 financial stability report issued by SNB on Thursday. Both banks are well position to meet the challenges of the current environment and support the economy.
But the loss potential of the two big banks in stress scenarios remains significant, especially in the case of a

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Swiss central banker wary of excessive inflation

May 25, 2021

Jordan, shown at a news conference last year, warns of neglecting the risks of inflation. Keystone/Anthony Anex
The Swiss National Bank (SNB) can expand its balance sheet further if needed, says chairman of the board Thomas Jordan.
“A big balance sheet is per se no problem. We can expand the balance sheet further, if monetary policy so requires,” he told the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper in an interview published on Saturday.
The SNB’s holdings of foreign exchange have ballooned to more than CHF900 billion ($1.1 trillion) due to its long-running campaign to weaken the franc via interventions. That practice not only drew scrutiny from the United States Treasury — the central bank’s huge pile of assets also exposes it to big swings in prices.
The franc is still

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Swiss National Bank profits cut in half by Covid

March 1, 2021

The value of Switzerland’s foreign currency and gold positions rose during the pandemic as investors sought safe havens. Keystone / Martin Ruetschi
The Swiss National Bank (SNB) recorded a profit of CHF20.9 billion (almost $23 billion) in 2020, less than half of the CHF48.9 billion it made in 2019.
Some CHF6 billion of the profits will be distributed to the Swiss government and cantons, compared to CHF4 billion last year. The distribution of profits is regulated by an agreement drawn up between the finance ministry and the SNB. For the period 2016-2020, the convention states, at least CHF1 billion must be paid to cantons and the government when reserves are positive.
The bank also proposed a dividend of CHF15 per share, the legal maximum, which remains stable.

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Swiss franc shrugs off being put on the naughty step by US

January 7, 2021

Switzerland was named a currency manipulator by the US Treasury in December 2020. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
For many foreign exchange traders, the US Treasury’s decision to designate Switzerland as a currency manipulator last month comes nearly six years too late and with a good dose of irony.
The Swiss National Bank threw currency markets into full-blown chaos in January 2015 when it unexpectedly abandoned its cap on the franc’s value, within days of a senior official reiterating the central bank’s commitment to keeping the mechanism in place. Banks and investors suffered large losses, brokerages went bust and legal disputes rattled on for years because of the shock decision.
To be fair to the SNB, it had no choice but to hold the line right up to the point where

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Swiss National Bank accused of lagging behind in green investment

December 7, 2020

[caption id="attachment_603925" align="alignleft" width="400"] About 3-5% of the investments of 180 Swiss financial institutions taking part in a government climate compatibility test flow into fossil energies like oil, gas and coal, according to a new report Keystone / Larry Mayer[/caption]
Swiss banks and retirement funds are still investing enormous sums in fossil fuel companies and thereby contributing to global warming. This is the conclusion of a government climate compatibility test. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) didn’t even take part in the test – and is lagging far behind foreign institutions in climate protection.
About 180 Swiss financial institutions took part in voluntary climate compatibility tests this year. The Federal Office for the Environment

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Swiss National Bank figures show burst of franc-dousing interventions

October 2, 2020

The data comes just days after Swiss National Bank President Thomas Jordan signalled that even larger interventions may be on the cards in the future. Keystone / Anthony Anex
The Swiss National Bank (SNB) spent CHF90 billion ($97.8 billion) in the first half of the year, more than it has spent in the past three years combined, to hold down artificially the value of the wealthy alpine state’s currency.
In official data released for the first time on Wednesday, the central bank said it sold CHF38.5 billion in the first three months of 2020, and a further CHF51.5 billion in the next three months, hoovering up dollar and euro-denominated assets.
The data comes just days after SNB President Thomas Jordan signalled that even larger interventions may be on the cards in

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Economic cost of pandemic will be enormous: SNB chief

May 11, 2020

Jordan insists the central bank can continue to defend the Swiss franc. (Keystone / Marcel Bieri)
Coronavirus is costing between CHF11 billion and CHF17 billion a month, putting such a strain on the Swiss economy that it will take years to recover. Swiss National Bank (SNB) chairman Thomas Jordan has predicted the worst depression since the 1930s.
In two newspaper interviews on Sunday, Jordan warned of significant job losses and an erosion of prosperity in the wake of the pandemic. The economy is currently operating at between 70% to 80% of normal levels, he told the SonntagsZeitungexternal link.
“Many people may not yet be able to imagine what these numbers mean for prosperity in Switzerland. But we will have to chew on these costs for years to come,” he said.

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SNB’s swollen balance-sheet poses risk to ‘credibility’

May 7, 2020

The SNB avoids giving firm guidance on where it believes the currency should be, keeping speculators guessing (Keystone)
When the Swiss National Bank (SNB) followed last year’s $50 billion (CHF48.6 billion) profit with a record $39 billion first-quarter loss, it was a stark illustration of the volatility created by a decade of unconventional monetary policy.
The SNB’s balance sheet has ballooned over the past decade as the bank has snapped up other currencies in an attempt to hold down the franc. The SNB believes an overvalued currency, driven up by panicked investors seeking a haven for their cash, would create deflation and spell disaster for Swiss exporters.
But some see the foreign-currency investments – which, at almost CHF800 billion ($811 billion), exceed

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Swiss central bank resists temptation to reduce interest rates

March 21, 2020

[caption id="attachment_439311" align="alignleft" width="400"] SNB chairman Thomas Jordan said the central bank will continue to defend the franc. (Keystone / Marcel Bieri)[/caption]
The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has kept interest rates unchanged at -0.75% but is easing the burden on commercial banks. The SNB said on Thursday that it is also intervening on the foreign exchange markets to keep the franc from appreciating too far, too fast.
The SNB’s announcementexternal link comes against the backdrop of media reports that it will take part in a massive financial aid package, worth up to CHF100 billion ($104 billion) to keep the Swiss economy afloat. The Swiss central bank declined to comment on this speculation.

The SNB said on Thursday that it is raising the

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‘We’re green enough’ says Swiss central bank 

November 16, 2019

An iceberg melts in Kulusuk, Greenland near the arctic circle. (file photo) (Keystone / John Mcconnico)
The Swiss National Bank (SNB) is doing enough to mitigate climate damage with its investment policy, senior directors have stated. Switzerland’s central bank does not have the mandate to impose environmental conditions on the commercial banking sector.
The remarks follow a recent speechexternal link by the new head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva, calling on central banks to do more to help mitigate climate change.
The SNBexternal link has a mandate to maintain price stability, not monitor the environmental impact of the commercial banking sector, SNB director Andréa Maechler said in a speech delivered in Genevaexternal link on

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Negative interest rates ‘harm Swiss economy’

November 7, 2019

Swiss firms fear that savers and pensioners will suffer from negative interest rates. (Keystone / Gaetan Bally)
A survey of Swiss companies commissioned by UBS bank concludes that negative interest rates are harming the wider economy.
Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS, asked 2,500 companies about the impact of negative interest rates. “Nearly two-thirds of respondents said that the cost…for the economy outweighed their benefits overall,” UBS said in a press releaseexternal link on Thursday.
The findings heap more pressure on the Swiss National Bank (SNB), which continues to defend its actions.However, companies are not particularly concerned about the effects of monetary policy on their own businesses.  “Most companies are not directly affected by negative interest

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Pressure returns on Swiss franc amid global uncertainty

August 7, 2019

The Swiss franc has started to appreciate in value against other currencies, including the euro, once again.
One knock-on effect of the escalating trade war between the United States and China is that the Swiss franc is becoming more attractive for investors – putting pressure on the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to come to the defence of the safe haven currency.
For much of July a euro bought at least CHF1.10. But the franc has strengthened this past month, trading at around CHF1.09 against the single currency in the last couple of days.
Several economists, including Janwillem Acket of the Julius Bär bank, believe the markets have been spooked by a ramping up of the China-US trade dispute. On Monday, tensions were

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Swiss mortgages and bank profits rise as jobs scale down

June 29, 2019

The Swiss banking industry continues to turn in a profit despite low interest rates.
Swiss commercial banks achieved higher profits last year, mortgage loans tipped the CHF1 trillion ($1.02 trillion) mark and costs were saved by reducing headcounts. These are the findings of an annual report from the Swiss National bank (SNB).
The SNBexternal link’s “Banks in Switzerlandexternal link” annual report shows combined Swiss and foreign mortgage loans hitting CHF1 trillion in July 2018external link, and the same landmark being breached for purely domestic loans in November. Total mortgages had increased by CHF35.5 billion (or 3.6%) by the end of last year.
The rise was fuelled by people taking advantage of a continuing

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Swiss franc still highly valued, but no policy change

November 7, 2018

Jordan has been chairman of the SNB since 2012.
The Swiss franc, investment in arms, and the housing market were some of the issues the government discussed with the chairman of the Swiss National Bank.
SNB chairman Thomas Jordan told the government that he sees the Swiss currency as highly valued and warned of the continuing risks of bubbles in the housing market.
“Jordan emphasised that monetary policy with negative interest rates and the willingness to intervene [on foreign exchange markets] remains necessary,” according to a government statement published on Wednesday.
In June, Finance Minister Ueli Maurer criticised the bank’s balance sheet, saying its expansion is “on the verge of sustainability”. Commentators

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‘Much too early’ to lift interest rates, says SNB chairman

June 9, 2018

The strong franc is hurting Swiss exporters and the domestic tourism industry
The continued volatility surrounding the Italian elections and the threat of global trade wars make it far too early for the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to consider raising rock bottom interest rates, says chairman Thomas Jordan.
“It’s much too early at this moment,” Jordan told CNNMoney Switzerland. “The situation is still quite fragile regarding [currency] exchange rates. This is the reason that we continue our monetary policy of negative interest rates.”
Most analysts expect the three-month Libor band to remain unchanged at between -1.25% and -0.25% for at least the rest of this year. Jordan’s comments on Friday added further fuel to the

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Swiss median monthly wage exceeds CHF6,500 ($6,506)

May 14, 2018

The survey found that the pay gap between the highest and lowest earners decreased only very slightly in the years between 2008 and 2016,
A government survey analysing wage structures in the Alpine nation found that the median salary for a full-time job in 2016 was CHF6,502 ($6,509) for the entire Swiss economy.
The bottom 10% of Swiss earners had a salary of less than CHF4,313 ($4,317), while the best paid 10% earned more than CHF11,406 ($11,418) a month.
These numbers were published by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) on Monday.
Stable wage gap
The surveyexternal link also found that the pay gap between the highest and lowest earners decreased only very slightly in the years between 2008 and 2016, from a factor

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Weakening franc approaches symbolic mark

April 20, 2018

The SNB conducts a difficult balancing act to stabilise the national economy.

(Keystone) – Click to enlarge
As the Swiss franc weakens towards the threshold CHF1.20 exchange rate, the likelihood remains slim that Switzerland’s central bank will alter monetary policy any time soon.
On Thursday morning a euro cost CHF1.198 francs. In February, the price of a single euro fell to under CHF1.150. The greater the number of francs needed to buy another currency signals a weaker franc, and vice versa if the exchange rate declines.
The markets are now eyeing the magic CHF1.20 barrier which was the minimum rate defended by Swiss National Bankexternal link (SNB) until it abandoned its policy in January 2015. The Swiss

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Swiss central bank records huge profits after franc slide

March 22, 2018

The Swiss central bank confirmed a record CHF54 billion overall profit in 2017

(Keystone) – Click to enlarge
The Swiss National Bank (SNB) was less active on the foreign exchange markets last year, acquiring CHF48.2 billion ($50.8 billion) in foreign currency to weaken the franc. On Thursday, the central bank nonetheless confirmed massive profits on currency holdings in 2017.
In 2017, the SNB purchased CHF48.2 billion in foreign currency to stop the Swiss franc appreciating – down from CHF67.1 billion in 2016. But the value of the SNB’s foreign currency investments nevertheless rose CHF94 billion to CHF791 billion, which contributed to the central bank’s profit last year.
“[These interventions] occurred mainly

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New CHF200 banknote to be introduced in August

March 19, 2018

The CHF200 note will be unveiled to the public on August 15 and join the new CHF50, CHF20 and CHF10 notes of the same series already in circulation

(Keystone) – Click to enlarge
The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has announced that the latest addition to the new banknote series – the CHF200 note ($209) – will go into circulation on August 22.
The brown note’s key motif will be physical matter. It will “showcase Switzerland’s scientific expertise”, the SNB said a press release on Monday.
The banknote will be unveiled to the public on August 15. The new CHF50, CHF20 and CHF10 notes of the same series are already in circulation. The overall theme is “the many faces of Switzerland” and each note is based on a different

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Swiss National Bank buys paper factory for banknote production

December 27, 2017

To guarantee the smooth roll-out of its new banknote series, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) has bought a struggling paper factory in eastern Switzerland.
The takeover of Landqart AG, valued at CHF21.5 million ($21.7 million), is split between the SNB (90%) and the security printing division of Swiss publisher Orell Füssli (10%).
+ Switzerland is rolling out a new series of banknotes with numerous security features
Landqart makes Durasafe®, the triple-layer substrate used for the new Swiss banknotes, which consist of a layer of plastic sandwiched between two layers of paper.

Bills from the ninth and latest series of Swiss banknotes

(© KEYSTONE / CHRISTIAN MERZ) – Click to enlarge

According to the SNB,

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Swiss industry has learned to live with strong franc

October 28, 2017

An employee of MAN Diesel & Turbo Switzerland grinds turbine blades of a turbo compressor in Zurich in 2015

(Keystone) – Click to enlarge
The recent appreciation of the Swiss franc has sent shockwaves through Swiss firms, resulting in job losses and lower research budgets. But viewed long-term, Switzerland’s export-driven economy has adapted remarkably well to a strong currency.
This is the overall conclusion of five studies, commissioned by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco), released on Tuesday. They examined the aftermath of the so-called Swiss franc shock, which was triggered when the Swiss National Bank (SNB) ended its longstanding ceiling of CHF1.20 to the euro almost three years ago. That

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