Summary of a speech delivered by the Chairman of the Governing Board to the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders of the Swiss National Bank

Jean-Pierre Roth, Chairman of the Governing Board

Annual General Meeting of Shareholders of the Swiss National Bank, Berne, 25.04.2003

All hopes of an economic pickup in 2002 have been disappointed. Against this background and given the strong Swiss franc, the National Bank further eased its monetary policy. Exchange rate considerations are generally reflected as far as possible in the monetary policy strategy of the National Bank. The prospects for 2003 remain uncertain. Only an international economic upswing, which is widely forecast for the second half of the year, is also likely to bring relief for the Swiss economy. After the restructuring process of the past few years, it is in a good position to derive benefits from such an upturn.

Switzerland must, however, undertake great efforts to liberalise its domestic market in order to achieve sustained growth and to ensure the long-term survival of its social institutions. Moreover, it must try to promote investments, as well as the innovative spirit and work input of each individual. The contribution of monetary policy is to create a stable monetary framework. This is hardly spectacular at first glance, but it is essential if the economy is to realise its growth potential, and it promotes investment by keeping interest rates low. The revised National Bank Law, which is now being debated in Parliament, is to provide the National Bank with a mandate that underlines the significance of price stability for economic growth.