Top Stories
Top Stories
Europe Economy

Trade war, Brexit and Italian debt are major concerns, SNB chairman says

Key Points
  • Speaking to CNBC's Joumanna Bercetche in Bern following the central bank's monetary policy announcement, SNB Chairman Thomas Jordan said increased trade tensions would have a "very negative impact" on the economy.
  • The SNB held interest rates at -0.75%, but Jordan told CNBC that there was "room to maneuver" and these could go further down if necessary.

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) is watching the U.S.-China trade war, Brexit and the Italian fiscal situation "very closely," after it held its policy of negative interest rates and readiness to intervene in foreign exchange markets.

Speaking to CNBC's Joumanna Bercetche in Bern following the central bank's monetary policy announcement, SNB Chairman Thomas Jordan said increased trade tensions would have a "very negative impact" on the economy.

"We are a small open economy - importing a lot, exporting a lot - so we depend on the possibility of exporting and everything that is negatively influencing the global economy is bad for us," Jordan said.

He added that the SNB was also monitoring the U.K.'s turbulent departure from the European Union, which will be heavily influenced by the outcome of the current Conservative party leadership election, along with rising Italian debt and the ensuing punitive measures expected from the European Commission.

VIDEO3:4003:40
Big risk to Switzerland is US-China trade tensions, SNB chairman says

This month, the Swiss franc reached its highest level against the euro in nearly two years on trade concerns, although the SNB did not change its description of the franc from "highly valued."

The franc sat at 1.1201 against the euro Thursday, up 0.25% since the start of the year.

The expected tentative moves by other central banks, such as the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank (ECB), to relax interest rates could also heap more upward pressure on the franc, whose high value weighs on Switzerland's export-reliant economy.

VIDEO1:2301:23
SNB chairman: It's clear the Swiss franc is highly valued

The SNB held interest rates at -0.75%, but Jordan told CNBC that there was "room to maneuver" and these could go further down if necessary.

"So far, they work really well as intended and we see no problem in implementing those negative interest rates," he said.

"The global environment with very low interest rates has an impact on financial stability, so we have to take them into consideration, but the main focus here is monetary policy and every belief that we can use this instrument further."

He also suggested the bank could "intervene" in foreign exchange markets if necessary, should it perceive the franc to become overvalued.