SNB Holds Rates, Raises Inflation Outlook

The Swiss National Bank held its interest on sight deposits at -0.75 percent during its June meeting and introduced the SNB policy rate, which will be used from now on and replaces the target range for the three-month Libor used previously. It currently stands at -0.75 percent. Policymakers said that the expansionary monetary policy remains necessary amid a "highly valued" Swiss franc and uncertainty surrounding the global economy.
Joana Ferreira | 6/13/2019 7:51:14 AM
Excerpt from the Swiss National Bank statement:

The Swiss National Bank is today introducing the SNB policy rate.1 From now on, it will use this rate in taking and communicating its monetary policy decisions. The SNB policy rate replaces the target range for the three-month Libor used previously, and currently stands at −0.75%. The SNB’s monetary policy thus remains as expansionary as before. Interest on sight deposits held by banks at the SNB currently corresponds to the SNB policy rate and remains at −0.75%. The SNB will seek to keep the secured short-term Swiss franc money market rates close to the SNB policy rate. SARON is the most representative short-term money market rate today, and is also establishing itself as the reference rate for financial products.

The reason for introducing the SNB policy rate is that the future of the Libor is not guaranteed. The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority will only ensure that the Libor is maintained through to the end of 2021. The SNB’s conditional inflation forecast is based on the assumption that a given interest rate remains unchanged over the entire forecast horizon of three years. The three-month Libor has been used for this purpose to date. Given that the current forecast for the first time extends beyond the end of 2021, the introduction of the SNB policy rate ensures that it will be based on the same interest rate over the entire horizon.

The SNB’s expansionary monetary policy remains necessary against the backdrop of the current price and economic developments. On a trade-weighted basis, the Swiss franc is somewhat stronger than in March and is still highly valued. The situation on the foreign exchange market continues to be fragile. The negative interest rate and the SNB’s willingness to intervene in the foreign exchange market as necessary remain essential in order to keep the attractiveness of Swiss franc investments low and thus ease pressure on the currency.

The new conditional inflation forecast for the coming quarters is slightly higher than in March. This is primarily attributable to a rise in the prices of imported goods. The longer-term inflation forecast is virtually unchanged. For 2019 it stands at 0.6%, up from the figure of 0.3% last quarter. For 2020, the SNB anticipates an inflation rate of 0.7%, compared to 0.6% last quarter. The forecast for 2021 is 1.1%, 0.1 of a percentage point lower than last quarter. The conditional inflation forecast is based on the assumption that the SNB policy rate remains at –0.75% over the entire forecast horizon.

The Swiss economy also gathered momentum at the beginning of the year. According to the initial estimate, GDP grew by 2.3% in the first quarter. Labour market developments were also positive. Production capacity in Switzerland was well utilised overall. The economic indicators point towards momentum remaining favourable. Against this backdrop, the SNB continues to expect the economy to grow by around 1.5% in 2019. As is the case with the global economy, the risks for this scenario remain to the downside. In particular, an unexpectedly sharp slowdown internationally would quickly spread to Switzerland.

SNB Holds Rates, Raises Inflation Outlook