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Central Bank to focus on monetary stability

Jean-Pierre Roth has emphasised transparency in Swiss monetary policy Keystone

The chairman of the Swiss National Bank, Jean-Pierre Roth, says consumer spending is vital to keep a sagging world economy on an even keel. Speaking in Lugano, he said Swiss policy would concentrate on monetary stability at a time of uncertainty.

Roth told the annual meeting of the Swiss Bankers Association on Friday that Swiss economic growth was slowing down as the world economy decelerated.

“The economic slowdown has revealed the fragility of the world economy. Signs of an upturn in the cycle are not yet discernible in the United States and the dollar remains under threat,” he said.

“Just over a year ago, the miracle of the new economy was on everybody’s lips… In the meantime, the steep decline in US growth, the stock market corrections and the downward revisions of economic forecasts have reminded us that uncertainty remains one of the essential features of all economic trends,” he added.

Roth did not comment directly on the possibility of a cut in key Swiss short-term interest rates. But there is widespread speculation that the National Bank will cut borrowing costs by up to half a percentage point, when it releases its regular quarterly monetary policy outlook next Thursday.

Roth said Japan was showing no signs of emerging from a long period of stagnation and its financial sector was “unsteady”. At the same time, emerging markets were feeling the slowdown and Europe’s growth was decelerating.

“In this environment, we are implementing an independent monetary strategy, with great emphasis on transparency, whose goal is to preserve monetary stability in Switzerland,” he said.

“In this way we can give the Swiss economy the best chance of development over the medium term,” Roth added.

At the same, the Swiss Bankers Association chairman, Georg Krayer, announced in Lugano a $500,000 (SFr825,500) donation to families of the victims of Tuesday’s terror attacks in the United States.

He said the money was being earmarked in particular for families of the fire brigade and police, and was a gesture from the Swiss banking sector.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR