The Swiss national flag hangs from the Federal Palace, Switzerland’s parliament building, in Bern, Switzerland, on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. The Swiss National Bank cut its inflation forecast and showed no inclination of moving off its crisis-era settings, citing the francs strength and mounting global risks. Photographer: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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The Swiss National Bank on Monday reported a loss of 132 billion Swiss francs ($143 billion) for the 2022 financial year, citing preliminary figures.
It represents the biggest loss in the central bank’s 116-year history and equates to roughly 18% of Switzerland’s projected gross domestic product of 744.5 billion Swiss francs. Its previous record loss was 23 billion francs in 2015.
As a result it will not make its usual payouts to the Swiss government and member states, it said, with payments to its shareholders also set to be affected. In 2021, the bank reported a 26 billion franc profit.
Of the losses, 131 billion francs came from its foreign currency positions and 1 billion from its Swiss franc positions amid strong gains made by the franc as investors flocked to the perceived safe haven amid European volatility.
Since June 2022, the Swiss franc has been trading above one euro, a level it had previously only briefly touched in 2015 after scrapping its 1.20 peg to the EU’s single currency. Switzerland has historically attempted to rein in the strength of the franc because of its export-heavy economy, though analysts have argued Swiss businesses have been able to remain competitive despite the rising franc due to euro zone inflation.
The SNB was also impacted last year by losses in its stock and bond portfolio amid the wider market downturn. However, it gained 400 million francs through its gold holdings.
Karsten Junius, chief economist at Swiss bank J.Safra Sarasin, told Reuters that the central bank’s losses would not alter its monetary policy. “The high reputation of the SNB helps that it doesn’t have to change anything,” he said. CNBC has reached out to the SNB for comment.