At its meeting on 22 September the Swiss National Bank (SNB) raised its policy rate from minus 0.25% to 0.50%, its largest hike ever. The move came shortly after the European Central Bank (ECB) also hiked rates by 75 basis points earlier in September.
As the Bank stated in its press release, the hike was aimed at “countering the renewed rise in inflationary pressure and the spread of inflation to goods and services that have so far been less affected”. Albeit still extremely mild by European standards, inflation has been running above the SNB’s 2% target since February, and rose to a multi-decade high in August. A tight labor market—the unemployment rate is currently at the lowest level in over 20 years—was likely a further driver behind the decision. Moreover, the ECB’s recent hawkish policy move provided the leeway for the SNB to act aggressively without provoking a sharp appreciation of the franc.
Looking ahead, the SNB hinted at further hikes, saying: “It cannot be ruled out that further increases in the SNB policy rate will be necessary to ensure price stability”. The Consensus is for extra tightening by the end of the year.
On the outlook, analysts at ING said:
“Given the inflation forecasts, there is little doubt that the SNB will continue to raise rates in the future. Unlike other central banks, the SNB only meets quarterly, so the next meeting will be in December. By then, the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve will probably have raised rates by another 75 basis points in October and November and will raise rates again in December. The SNB could follow suit, probably raising its rate by 75bp in December as well. This is likely to be the last rate hike and we do not expect anything more in 2023.”