The Swiss National Bank is the central bank of Switzerland. It is responsible for Swiss monetary policy and for issuing Swiss franc
The names of the institution in the four official languages of the country are:
- German — Schweizerische Nationalbank;
- French — Banque Nationale Suisse;
- Italian — Banca Nazionale Svizzera;
- Romansh — Banca Naziunala Svizra;
The Swiss National Bank was founded by virtue of the Federal Act on the Swiss National Bank, which entered into force on 16 January 1906. Business was started on 20 June 1907. Since the establishment of the Swiss National Bank in 1907, it has had a strong impact on economic policy in Switzerland.
The Swiss National Bank is a special statute joint-stock company governed by special provisions of federal law. It is administered with the cooperation and under the supervision of the Confederation in accordance with the provisions of the National Bank Act. Its shares are registered shares and are listed on the stock exchange. The share capital amounts to CHF 25 million, approximately 55% of which is held by public shareholders (cantons, cantonal banks, etc.). The remaining shares are largely in the hands of private persons. The Confederation does not hold any shares.
Goals and responsibilities of the Swiss National Bank:
- The Swiss National Bank conducts the country’s monetary policy as an independent central bank. It is obliged by Constitution and statute to act in accordance with the interests of the country as a whole. Its primary goal is to ensure price stability, while taking due account of economic developments. In so doing, it creates an appropriate environment for economic growth.
- Price stability is an important condition for growth and prosperity. Inflation and deflation, by contrast, impair economic activity. They are inhibiting factors for the decisions of consumers and producers, lead to misallocations of labor and capital, result in income and asset redistributions, and put the economically weak at a disadvantage.
- The Swiss National Bank equates price stability with a rise in the national consumer price index of less than 2% per annum. Deflation, i.e. a protracted decline in price levels, is considered to be equally detrimental to price stability. The Swiss National Bank takes its monetary policy decisions on the basis of an inflation forecast and implements them by steering the three-month Libor for Swiss franc investments.
- The Swiss National Bank provides the Swiss franc money market with liquidity by influencing the interest rate level in the money market.
- The Swiss National Bank is entrusted with the note-issuing privilege. It supplies the economy with banknotes that meet high standards with respect to quality and security. It is also charged by the Confederation with the task of coin distribution.
- In the field of cashless payment transactions, the Swiss National Bank provides services for payments between banks. These are settled in the Swiss Interbank Clearing system via sight deposit accounts held with the Swiss National Bank.
- The Swiss National Bank manages currency reserves. These engender confidence in the Swiss franc, help to prevent and overcome crises and may be utilized for interventions in the foreign exchange market.
- The Swiss National Bank contributes to the stability of the financial system. Within the context of this task, it analyses sources of risk to the financial system, oversees systemically important payment and securities settlement systems and helps to promote an operational environment for the financial sector.
- Together with the federal authorities, the Swiss National Bank participates in international monetary cooperation and provides technical assistance.
- The Swiss National Bank acts as banker to the Confederation. It processes payments on behalf of the Confederation, issues money market debt register claims and bonds, handles the safekeeping of securities and carries out money market and foreign exchange transactions.
- The Swiss National Bank compiles statistical data on banks and financial markets, the balance of payments, direct investment, the international investment position and the Swiss financial accounts.
The Swiss National Bank has been a member of the Bank for International Settlements since its inception in 1930. The Swiss National Bank participates in various Bank for International Settlements committees. These include the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, the Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems and the Committee on the Global Financial System. On numerous occasions, the Swiss National Bank has participated in bilateral balance of payments assistance, coordinated by the Bank for International Settlements or by other international organizations.
Since 2007, Switzerland has been a member of the Financial Stability Board (known as Financial Stability Forum until April 2009). The Federal Department of Finance and the Swiss National Bank each have one representative on the Financial Stability Board. The Financial Stability Board combines in a single body the national authorities responsible for financial stability, international financial institutions, international groups representing regulatory and oversight authorities, and the central banks
’ committees of experts. Membership in the Financial Stability Board enables Switzerland to strengthen cooperation and coordination in the oversight of the international financial system, and contribute to reducing systemic risks. It also gives Switzerland the opportunity to actively participate in the international dialogue on the early identification of issues relevant to stability, in particular in the areas of financial market regulation and supervision, and international financial systems.
- Currency of Switzerland:
- Swiss franc
- List of Central Banks:
- Central Banks
- Official website of Swiss National Bank:
- Bank for International Settlements:
- Financial Stability Board: