The Swiss National Bank (SNB) posted a profit of CHF 13.7 billion in the first half of the year – despite a poor second quarter. There was a loss of 13.2 billion Swiss francs. SRF business editor Andi Lüscher explains the loss and shows why it is in the “normal” range.
Business Editor, SRF
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Andi Lüscher has been working for Swiss radio and television SRF since 2011. He is a business journalist and presenter of the program “SRF Börse”. He publishes in particular on the stock exchange, financial and labor markets.
The SNB recorded a quarterly loss of CHF 13.2 billion. How is this to be assessed?
In fact, one has to say that a loss of this magnitude is within the range of “normal”. There have always been fluctuations of this magnitude, both positive and negative. The reason is simple: the SNB currently has an equity and bond portfolio of over CHF 740 billion, as well as gold worth almost CHF 60 billion. Even minor changes in exchange rates are reflected in the SNB balance sheet.
How do you rate the National Bank’s performance?
It is certainly not possible to draw conclusions about the SNB’s performance based on the quarterly losses. It is not mandated to make a profit from its foreign currency positions. Rather, it must primarily ensure price stability. For example, she buys or sells shares in euros because she wants to weaken or strengthen the Swiss franc. Rather, the SNB must be measured by how prices are developing in this country. And here, Switzerland has fared relatively well compared to other countries. Not only, but also because of the monetary policy of the SNB.
Can the federal government and cantons hope for a distribution in 2024 despite the setback in the second quarter?
This question can only be answered on December 31, 2023. As of today, all that can be said is that things are not looking good – due to the record loss of CHF 133 billion last year. The SNB would first have to repay a large balance sheet loss. That would only be possible if their foreign currency positions increased significantly in the second half of the year. The economists at UBS describe a distribution as “possible”, albeit rather “unlikely”. The federal government and the cantons must therefore deal with the fact that they could go away empty-handed this year.