Information on the archives
The Swiss monetary and central bank policy records are stored in the Swiss National Bank archives. These historical records document the monetary policy issues and challenges with which the Swiss National Bank has been confronted since 1907. They show how the SNB viewed these issues, and how it solved them.
The SNB is subject to the Federal Act on Archiving, which requires the SNB to preserve documents of legal, political, economic, historical, social or cultural value on a long-term basis.
Information on using the archives
The contents of the SNB archives are accessible after a thirty year closure period has elapsed, unless such access is incompatible with an overriding public or private interest. In some cases, special provisions apply for personal data or for records from other institutions.
Visitors are requested to contact the archives in advance, by phone, e-mail or normal mail. The archives team will be pleased to help you in the search for relevant records. The archives may be visited during office hours.
Dr. Patrick Halbeisen
+41 44 631 34 55
+41 44 631 39 79
+41 44 631 39 58
+41 44 631 39 75
Contents of the Swiss National Bank archives
The heart of the SNB archives is its collection of records relating to Swiss monetary and exchange rate policy. In the fixed exchange rate system, which lasted until 1973, the focus was on exchange rate and gold policy. This was reflected in the holdings of records on gold transactions, discount and Lombard policy, general exchange rate policy (e.g. devaluation) and relations with other central banks. Other major holdings were created as a result, in particular, of the administrative measures undertaken in the 1960s and 1970s to combat inflation. The relevant key words here are foreign funds, minimum balances and lending limits, economic policy. Also of interest for economic history are the monthly reports from the head and branch offices, the documents on exemptions for the export industry, e.g. the watchmaking and textile industry, and, for instance, the records on the Freigeldbewegung.
Following the transition to flexible exchange rates after 1973, SNB policy was focused on steering the supply of money with the objective of ensuring price stability. In this context, major holdings were created on changes in and measurement of the supply of money and monetary policy decision-making processes.
Since the foundation of the SNB, management has based its decisions on surveys, data collections and reports provided by the National Bank’s own statistical department. Statistical series contain a wide range of data on the SNB accounts and important monetary policy and exchange rate indicators, as well as a wealth of data on payment transactions, the development of the money and capital markets, on the business activities and development of banks in Switzerland, and on the balance of payments.
Internal SNB studies and investigations on a great variety of issues affecting economic and monetary policy show how the National Bank has viewed these matters since the 1920s, and handled them from an academic standpoint. In the mid-1970s, after the transition to flexible exchange rates, economic research within the SNB was greatly expanded. The development of modern monetary policy is closely related to the development of a global network of increasingly specialised monetary policy research activities.
The archives also contains numerous records on the SNB’s other tasks. These include extensive holdings relating to the development of and reforms to legislation, and also to the constitutional foundations of monetary policy in the Coinage Act, the National Bank Act and the relevant articles in the Federal Constitution, as well as records relating to regulation of the Swiss financial centre in the Banking Act, the Stock Exchange Act and various gentleman’s agreements with the banks. An important task for the SNB is to ensure the supply and distribution of cash. This is reflected in the records on the production and issuing of banknotes, banknote and coin security and the organisation of cash transactions.
In the 1930s, a number of interesting records that fall outside the scope of monetary and exchange rate policies were created in connection with both bilateralism and controlled payment transactions involving numerous trading partners. Such records were again created after the Second World War in connection with the continued management of the dollar market and the involvement in the European Payments Union. Throughout the entire period there are documents relating to SNB participation in international institutions such as the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the OECD and – informally to 1992 and then as a member – the Bretton Woods institutions (IMF and the World Bank).
The most important sources – the minutes of the Governing Board (SNB executive management), as well as the minutes of the Bank Council and the Bank Committee (SNB authorities) – are fully documented.