MIT Club afternoon at the Swiss National Bank

05 May. 2017

Neither labs nor fancy engineering or robots were at display. Nevertheless, nearly 30 MIT alumni gathered at the Zurich head office of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to learn about the institution that conducts monetary policy in Switzerland.

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The international financial crisis and the collapse or near collapse of major financial institutions, central banks around the world have been in the spotlight. Switzerland and the SNB have been particularly challenged, due to the flight to safety that set in when the Euro area debt crisis broke and political uncertainty in Europe and beyond rose. In pursuing its core mandate of price stability, the SNB adopted an exchange rate floor vis-a-vis the Euro (and later abandoned it); enormously expanded its balance sheet; and introduced negative interest rates. While the Swiss Franc’s appreciation has been somewhat checked and monetary conditions in Switzerland have been stabilized, it is still too early to declare success.

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Dr. Carlos Lenz, Head of Economic Affairs at the SNB, hosted the event and gave an insightful and fascinating overview over these and related topics. Indeed, the audience was so intrigued that Carlos didn’t even get half way through his presentation because of many questions and lively discussions. Fortunately, however, he also joined for the Club sponsored apero at a nearby bar directly after the event. And the remaining slides were distributed a few days later. No more open questions, but lots of food for thought.

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Dirk Niepelt