Summary of a speech delivered by the Chairman of the Governing Board

Hans Meyer, Chairman of the Governing Board

Annual General Meeting of shareholders, 23 April 1999, 23.04.1999

The Chairman of the Governing Board, Hans Meyer, opened his speech by reviewing economic developments and monetary policy in Switzerland during 1998. He then addressed the economic and social problems in the various regions of the world which characterised the past year. In conclusion he dealt once more with the reform of the Swiss monetary constitution and the National Bank's endeavours concerning its role during the Second World War.

Switzerland's economic recovery continued in 1998 despite the difficult international environment. The standstill in the growth of exports at the end of last year was offset by increased domestic demand. Favourable monetary conditions contributed to the gratifying development. The National Bank countered the upward pressure on the Swiss franc in the wake of the turbulence in the international financial markets by expanding the supply of money. The criticism levelled against the International Monetary Fund following the crises in East Asia, Russia and Brazil is understandable albeit exaggerated. The adaptation of the Swiss monetary constitution in keeping with the times is progressing well on various statutory levels. The National Bank regrets the dark sides of its conduct during the difficult war years; it holds the view that the official endeavours are a valid contribution to coming to terms with the past.