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December 2008: IMF research summaries on global herding in financial markets (by Marco Cipriani) and on fiscal decentralization (by Lusine Lusinyan); article on the experiences of IMF staff at the Nobel Laureate Meetings in Lindau, Germany (by Chris Crowe); listing of visiting scholars at the IMF during August–December 2008; listing of contents of Vol. 55 No. 4 of IMF Staff Papers; listing of recent IMF Working Papers; listing of recent external publications by IMF staff; and a Call for Papers for an upcoming conference on structural reforms.
The global financial crisis has tested the effectiveness of supervision under the “Twin Peaks” model. The crisis revealed the strengths of the “Twin International Peaks” model, as decisions were able to be made in a timely manner to contain the crisis, and clear divisions of powers and responsibilities were instrumental in ensuring effective coordination between key agencies. However, the crisis also exposed certain areas where improvements could strengthen the “Twin Peaks” framework. Intensive and well-focused efforts are being made to strengthen the supervisory framework.
The Selected Issue Paper discusses the Swiss National Bank’s (SNB) balance sheet risks and policy implications. Despite increased profit allocations, SNB capital has not kept pace with its growing balance sheet. The paper also explores the empirical determinants of pressures on the Swiss franc with the purpose of sorting out the relative importance of four factors: conventional monetary policy stance in other advanced countries and large emerging markets; quantitative easing and other unconventional policies pursued by major central banks; the euro area sovereign debt crisis; and global risk aversion.
Although progress has been made in strengthening the Swiss economy, systemic risks posed by large banks as well as revisions to the macroprudential framework are still in train. The authorities welcomed the too-big-to-fail (TBTF) legislation and intervention of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) on strengthening financial sector stability, and stressed the need of a strong macroprudential framework and a legal framework with regard to crisis prevention. The authorities supported adherence to the Swiss debt brake rule, and emphasized that sustainability of public finances should be further improved.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This Technical Note on Systemic Risk and Contagion Analysis on Switzerland summarizes the systemic risk and contagion analysis undertaken for the Swiss financial system as part of the Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) Update. Contagion risks arising from interbank exposures in Switzerland appear to be contained. This analysis shows only moderate effects, consistent with restrictions imposed by the Swiss ‘large exposure rules’ currently in place, and no material second round effects will materialize within the domestic interbank market. In terms of bank groups, domestic interbank exposure risks appear to be moderate for most banks, but a few small private banks and banks specialized in asset management appear to be somewhat vulnerable. The international contagion analysis suggests that global contagion risks among Global Systemically Important Financial Institutions and the large Swiss financial institutions appear to be currently contained. The systematic risk analysis shows that the relative contribution of domestically oriented banks to systemic risk is increasing. The bank-sovereign contagion analysis suggests that increases in banks capital buffers have contributed positively to limit contagion risks.
Switzerland is affected by the global crisis through the stock effect, the flow effect, and the trade effect. Along with a sharp contraction in exports, investments are now being postponed. Consumption has held up well so far, but as unemployment rises, household spending will lose momentum. The Swiss National Bank has appropriately loosened monetary policy, bringing the policy rates almost to zero. Maintaining financial stability will be essential for ensuring macroeconomic stability and growth in Switzerland.
The Article IV Consultation discusses the IMF Executive Board’s assessment of economic developments and policies in Switzerland. With the exchange rate floor in place for more than one year, the Swiss economy has been relatively stable. Although overall export growth is weak, the external position remains comfortable, reflecting high investment income and strong export performance in some sectors. Executive Directors noted that, notwithstanding Switzerland’s stable economy and strong policy frameworks, risks stemming mostly from the euro area crisis and vulnerabilities in the domestic financial sector have clouded the near-term outlook.