On Monday, the Swiss National Bank announced it had posted the biggest annual loss it has posted since its founding 116 years ago, based on preliminary estimations. It attributed the loss to falling stock and fixed income markets which crushed its stock and bond portfolio.
The losses for 2022 amounted to roughly 132 billion francs ($143 billion). That is roughly 18% of Switzerland’s gross domestic product, and it is five times the bank’s previous record loss in 2015 of 23 billion francs ($25 billion).
131 of the 132 billion francs lost were attributable to collapsed foreign currency positions the bank took up, as it bought roughly $1 billion in stock and bonds as part of a strategy to weaken the Swiss franc. A $435.9 million increase in the value of the bank’s gold holdings partially offset its losses.
The central bank’s foreign exchange reserves fell roughly 17% last year, from 945 billion francs (roughly $1 trillion) in December of 2021, when SNB posted a 26 billion franc ($28.3 billion) profit, to 784 billion francs (($854.4 billion) in December of 2022.
Because of its losses, the SNB will not be distributing profits to central and regional Swiss governments. That will mark the second time it its entire history that the central bank will fail to deliver its usual profit disbursement.
Last year the bank delivered six billion francs ($6.5 billion) to federal and regional governments, all of which now will need to review their budget plans, and adjust them to the lack of funding.