(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Treasury is likely to take note of the Swiss National Bank’s heavy foreign-exchange interventions this year as it compiles its watchlist for currency manipulators, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
The semi-annual report is due soon, and “Switzerland’s exchange rate practices could come under closer scrutiny if the pandemic period is included in the analysis,” Goldman Sachs economist Michael Cahill wrote. “By our estimates, the SNB added over $40bn in the first few months of 2020, which would easily clear the bar.”
The U.S. Treasury earlier this year put Switzerland back on a watchlist for countries allegedly gaming their exchange rates, citing the nation’s high current-account surplus and bilateral trade balance as evidence.
Yet Swiss policy makers have long relied on interventions, coupled with negative interest rates, to prevent the franc from becoming too strong, which could tip their economy into deflation and a recession.
SNB officials stepped up the pace as the coronavirus pandemic roiled markets this year, and earlier this week SNB President Thomas Jordan defended the policy as essential.
“One cannot lower interest rates indefinitely,” he said in a lecture for the International Monetary Fund in Washington. “Our experience shows that foreign-exchange market interventions and the negative interest rate are essential for a small open economy with a safe-haven currency in a global low interest rate environment.”
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.