Discussion paper

DP11969 Negative interest rates in Switzerland: What have we learned?

The Swiss National Bank has introduced negative interest rates of minus 75bp in mid-
January 2015. Large exemptions on commercial bank holdings at the SNB result in the
average rate being significantly less negative than the marginal rate. With this constellation
the policy transmission to the real economy is asymmetric. It fully satisfies the needs of a
SOE in search of a negative interest differential, not those of an economy aiming at a
‘classical’ monetary stimulus at the zero bound. While the Swiss design would make it
possible to impose rates that are significantly more negative with modest complementary
features, the unpopularity of negative rates makes it likely that the ambition to totally free
monetary policy of the ZLB will be thwarted by democratic realities in the near future.


Danthine, J (2017), ‘DP11969 Negative interest rates in Switzerland: What have we learned?‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 11969. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp11969