In the wake of the financial and euro crisis the Swiss National Bank (SNB) made massive interventions on the financial markets, building large currency reserves in the process. The coronavirus crisis is now prompting politicians to call for more sharing of the SNB’s assets. In some cases they’re demanding a distribution of “surplus” reserves to the Confederation and the cantons; in some cases there are calls for the SNB’s funds to be used to create a new sovereign wealth fund. What both proposals have in common is that assets that Switzerland has earmarked for monetary policy purposes should be rerouted for other political purposes. In some cases the liquidation of SNB reserves is directly linked to party-political goals. This kind of access to Switzerland’s monetary reserves should not be allowed to happen. From time immemorial, a central bank’s assets have been a major component of monetary policy. There will be consequences if they’re appropriated for other purposes.
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