The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has posted preliminary figures as indicating a loss of 132 billion Swiss francs ($143 billion) in 2022, the biggest such setback in the bank’s 116-year history.
The figure is tantamount to about 18% of Switzerland’s projected gross domestic product of 744.5 billion Swiss francs ($807 billion).
The largest part of the loss stems from collapsed valuations of its large pile of holdings in foreign currencies – accumulated as a result of a decade of purchases amid strong gains made by the franc. The detailed annual figures are expected to be released on March 6.
As a result of the loss, the bank will not make its usual payouts to the Swiss government and member states (cantons), with payments to its shareholders also set to be affected.
The developments come after the SNB’s interest rates in December increased to 1%, the third such rise in 2022, in a move aimed at countering inflation.
Also last year, the bank was affected by losses in its stock and bond portfolio that came against the backdrop of the wider market downturn. Even so, the SNB managed to gain 400 million Swiss francs ($433 million) through its gold holdings at the time.
Karsten Junius, chief economist at the Swiss bank J.Safra Sarasin, suggested in an interview with a US media outlet that the SBN would not alter its monetary policy due to the loss. Junius argued that while the Swiss National Bank will need “some time to rebuild its valuation reserves, it will take less time to show profits than in the case of the European Central Bank.”
He pointed to Switzerland’s efforts to reduce inflation to its 2% target. The country’s current 3% inflation remains well below the eurozone’s rate, which stands at more than 10%.