Switzerland Holds Policy Rate at -0.75%

The Swiss National Bank held its deposit interest rate at a record low of -0.75 percent on September 15th, as widely expected, saying the franc is still significantly overvalued and the current expansionary monetary policy is aimed at stabilizing price developments and supporting economic activity. Meanwhile, the central bank cut inflation forecasts for 2017 to 0.2 percent from 0.3 percent previously estimated; and for 2018 to 0.6 percent from 0.9 percent.

Excerpts from the SNB press release:

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) is maintaining its expansionary monetary policy. Interest on sight deposits at the SNB is to remain at –0.75% and the target range for the three-month Libor is unchanged at between –1.25% and –0.25%. At the same time, the SNB will remain active in the foreign exchange market, as necessary. The negative interest rate and the SNB's willingness to intervene in the foreign exchange market are intended to make Swiss franc investments less attractive, thereby easing upward pressure on the currency. The Swiss franc is still significantly overvalued. The SNB’s expansionary monetary policy is aimed at stabilising price developments and supporting economic activity.

The new conditional inflation forecast has been revised slightly downwards compared to the June forecast. Up to the first quarter of 2017, the path of inflation remains almost the same. Thereafter, the slightly less favourable global economic outlook dampens inflation in Switzerland. For 2016, the inflation forecast remains unchanged at –0.4%. For 2017, the SNB expects inflation of 0.2%, compared to 0.3% forecast in the last quarter, while for 2018, the forecast has fallen from 0.9% to 0.6%. The conditional inflation forecast is based on the assumption that the three-month Libor remains at –0.75% over the entire forecast horizon.

The SNB still expects the moderate growth in the global economy to sustain over the coming quarters. However, the vote for the UK to leave the European Union has caused considerable uncertainty and makes an assessment of the global economic outlook more difficult. The SNB has revised downwards its growth expectations for the UK and the euro area. As regards the global economy, the risks remain to the downside, owing to numerous structural problems.

In the second quarter, the Swiss economy posted growth of 2.5% on an annualised basis. Overall, the revised quarterly estimates for GDP suggest a somewhat stronger recovery of the Swiss economy since the middle of last year. Nonetheless, on the whole, capacity utilisation remains unsatisfactory. Moreover, not all industries have benefited equally from the recovery. As a result, margins at a large number of companies continue to be strained.

The SNB is anticipating a continuation of the recovery. In the second half of the year, however, growth is likely to be more modest than in the first half, partly owing to a temporary weakening of growth in Europe. For 2016 as a whole, the SNB now expects growth of approximately 1.5%. The recovery is likely to spread gradually to the labour market. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate should stabilise over the coming months.

Switzerland Holds Policy Rate at -0.75%

SNB | Joana Ferreira | joana.ferreira@tradingeconomics.com
9/15/2016 7:49:40 AM