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The Swiss National Bank reports a profit of CHF 51.5 billion for the first three quarters of 2019

The increasing volatility of SNB Earnings

Annual results are not really definite. Given that the SNB accumulates foreign currencies with interventions, they have huge swings.

But the SNB may lose 50 billion in one year and win 60 billion in the next year or vice verse.

Good years of the Credit Cycle

This trend was stopped in 2016, even without the need for a cap on the franc. But one should consider that we are in the good years of the credit cycle now. Bad quarters like the one in Q4/2018 are rare now.

Franc will rise again with crisis or inflation

With a new financial crisis or a with a big rise of inflation, the run into the Swiss franc will start again.

And this at an exchange rate that is not digestible for the SNB.
We considered that after an inflationary period the

  • EUR/CHF will fall to 0.90
  • and USD/CHF to 0.75.

And this will lead to a massive SNB loss around 150 billion CHF.

However, we are not there yet: Inflation is low and interest rates even lower.

Some extracts from the official statement.

 

Interim results of the Swiss National Bank as at 30 September 2019

The Swiss National Bank reports a profit of CHF 51.5 billion for the first three quarters of 2019.

The profit on foreign currency positions amounted to CHF 42.7 billion. A valuation gain of CHF 7.3 billion was recorded on gold holdings. The profit on Swiss franc positions was CHF 1.7 billion.

The SNB’s financial result depends largely on developments in the gold, foreign exchange and capital markets. Strong fluctuations are therefore to be expected, and only provisional conclusions are possible as regards the annual result.

Income statement, 1 January–30 September 2019

Income statement, 1 January–30 September 2019

Source: snb.ch - Click to enlarge

Profit on foreign currency position

In a period of low interest rates, asset prices rise, last but not least because of margin debt. When the Fed raised rates in 2018, the SNB had a loss of 15 billion francs. Fortunately for the SNB, the Fed stopped raising rates in 2019, on the contrary U.S. rates went down.

Rising asset prices implies that the SNB obtains a profit.

 

The following numbers are in billion Swiss Francs.

 

SNB results Q3 2019
(in bn CHF)
Profit BalanceSheet Profit in %
Total Profit on foreign currencies 42.7 858.9 4.97%
Interest income (coupons) 6.9 858.9 0.80%
Dividend income 2.9 858.9 0.34%
Price changes in bonds 19.5 858.9 2.27%
Price changes in equities 22.4 858.9 2.61%
Exchange Rate Gains -8.8 858.9 -1.02%

SNB Profit on Foreign Currencies

SNB Profit on Foreign Currencies

Source: snb.ch - Click to enlarge

Valuation loss on gold holdings

A valuation gain of CHF 7.3 billion was recorded on gold holdings, which remained unchanged in volume terms. Gold was trading at CHF 47,620 per kilogram at end-September 2019 (end-2018: CHF 40,612).

 

SNB Results Q3 2019
(in bn CHF)
Profit Balance Sheet Profit in %
Total Profit on Gold………………………….. 7.3 858.9 0.85%

Percentage of gold to balance sheet

The percentage of gold has risen to 5.76% thanks to higher prices.

 

SNB Balance Sheet items
(in bn CHF)
2019 Q3 2018 2017 2016 2015
Gold………………….. 49.5 42.2 42.5 39.4 35.5
Total Balance Sheet 858.9 812.8 843.3 746 640
Gold in % of Balance Sheet 5.76% 5.20% 5.04% 5.28% 5.55%

 

Balance Sheet

The balance sheet has expanded by over 46.1 bn. francs by 5.67%. Especially during summer there were bigger SNB interventions.

 

(in bn CHF) 2019 Q3 2018
Increase in %
SNB balance sheet in CHF………………. 858.9 812.8 5.67%
Swiss nominal GDP in CHF 700 (est.) 689.9 1.46%
% of GDP 122.7% 117.81%

SNB Balance Sheet for Gold Holdings for Q3 2019

SNB Balance Sheet for Gold Holdings for Q3 2019

Source: snb.ch - Click to enlarge

Profit on Swiss franc positions

The SNB maintains its profitability, last but not least, thanks to the reduction of the profitability of banks. When too many funds arrive on their accounts, they must deposit them on their sight deposit account at the SNB.

The profit on Swiss franc positions totalled CHF 1.7 billion. It largely resulted from negative interest charged on sight deposit account balances.

Negative Interest rates

Furthermore, the SNB harms the Swiss economy, when it reduces the profits of Swiss banks by negative interest rates. But with this measure she maintains her own profitability.

The SNB obtained slightly less money for negative rates, while sight deposits were slightly up (see below). The reason might that banks better use their exoneration from negative rates.

Still, as compared to the FX profits or gains on equities, this number is relatively low.

 

(in million CHF) 2019 Q3 2018 Q3
Change in %
Income through negative interest rates 1528.2 1528.4 -0.01%
SNB balance sheet 858.9 812.8 +2.8%
in % of balance sheet 0.17% 0.17%

SNB Result for Swiss Franc Positions for Q3 2019

SNB Result for Swiss Franc Positions for Q3 2019

Source: snb.ch - Click to enlarge

SNB Liabilities

Electronic Money Printing: Sight Deposits

Sight deposits is the biggest part of SNB interventions.

In the third quarter, the SNB intervened again, increasing sight deposits and its debt towards the Swiss state.

 

(in bn CHF) 2019 Q3 2018
Change in%
Total Sight Deposits 593.1 574.8 +3.18%
Balance Sheet 858.9 812.8 +5.67%
Sight Deposits % of balance sheet 69.05% 70.72%
Paper Printing

Banknotes in circulation: -2.54 bn francs to 79.7 bn. CHF

This old form of a printing press, today a less important form of central bank interventions. It showed that safe-haven Swiss francs, e.g. 1000 franc bank notes are currently less in demand than previously.

Provisions for currency reserves

The SNB seems to think that the price gains in bonds and in stocks are forever sure.

Only about 10% of the paper gain is put into the provisions for potential bigger FX losses.

SNB Liabilities and Sight Deposits for Q3 2019

SNB Liabilities and Sight Deposits for Q3 2019

Source: snb.ch - Click to enlarge

 

Full story here
About SNB
SNB
The Swiss National Bank conducts the country’s monetary policy as an independent central bank. It is obliged by the Constitution and by 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.
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Permanent link to this article: https://snbchf.com/2019/10/snb-interim-results-q3-2019/

1 comment

  1. Stefan

    It is worth reminding the public at all times that the so-called distribution reserve should be counted towards the provisions for currency reserves in light of the enormous growth of said currency reserves from 10% of GDP in 2006 to almost 120% of GDP today.

    The downward risk on the foreign currency reserves of 800 bn CHF are in essence:
    Appreciation of the CHF by 5% in one year: : -40 bn CHF
    Appreciation of the CHF by 10% in one year: : -80 bn CHF
    Rise in interest rates of +2%: -70 bn CHF

    For comparison: the entire equity of the the SNB including the distribution reserve amounts to 170 bn CHF or 20% of the balance sheet total.

    It is comforting to know that the SNB’s equity is in no immediate danger of being wiped out. This being said, the sheer size of the risk is apt to tame any desire to redirect SNB funds to other use, a desire that all too easily infiltrates the political discussion when media reports abound regarding the profits and distribution reserve of the SNB.

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