No SNB billions – bleak prospects for SNB distributions – News


For years, the SNB’s surpluses were a safe bet in the cantonal and federal budgets. With the high losses of this year, the balance sheet of the SNB is shrinking. Your payouts could go for years.

They were the stuff some politicians’ dreams are made of: the national bank’s billions. They should restructure the AHV and pay off the corona debt in one fell swoop. That’s over for now. This year, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) has already made a loss of around CHF 150 billion. UBS economists appreciate that.

The reasons for this are the large losses on the stock markets and bonds as well as the significant correction of the euro against the Swiss franc. In the first half of the year, the SNB reported a loss of CHF 95 billion. Now, according to UBS, another 50 billion will be added.

“We will definitely not know our balance sheet until December 31,” says Andrea Maechler, a member of the SNB Governing Board. “But it could be difficult if the economic situation doesn’t change significantly.” Fiscal politicians should therefore not count on billions in the national bank this year.

It would only be the third zero round within 30 years. Last year, six billion went to the federal government and the cantons – that is the maximum amount agreed. Two billion for the federal government, four for the cantons.

Distributions not in sight anytime soon

The situation for the cantons is likely to be difficult. In some, such as Thurgau, the National Bank’s profit distributions accounted for almost six percent of the canton’s budget last year. But the two largest cantons of Zurich and Bern were also able to improve their budgets by more than four percent.

In the future, the SNB will initially retain any profits in order to build up its equity capital again.

The gains on the financial markets and on currency positions have led to an actual inflation of the National Bank’s reserves in recent years. At the end of last year they were at CHF 180 billion. If you subtract the losses estimated by UBS, only around a quarter of these reserves remained as of today. “With total assets of one trillion, the SNB only has an equity ratio of around five percent,” says Daniel Kalt, chief economist at UBS.

National payouts are unlikely to return any time soon either. “In the future, the SNB will initially retain any profits in order to rebuild its equity capital,” says the UBS economist. “We assume that the distributions will initially be significantly lower than the six billion francs that we have seen in the last two years.”

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