"BERN, Switzerland—Swiss officials Thursday backed new banking laws to prevent the failure of one or both of Switzerland's major banks from imperiling the rest of the banking system, but stopped short of calling for UBS AG or Credit Suisse Group AG to be split up.
"Our expert commission concludes that based on our four criteria, the two major banks can clearly be defined as 'too big to fail' in their current size and structure," Swiss National Bank director Thomas Jordan said.
The expert group outlined a raft of measures, including requiring higher capital and liquidity buffers, as well as a "balanced" approach to risk-taking. The government is expected to address the experts' recommendations as early as next week.
Specific capital measures the commission is backing include having banks issue so-called contingent convertible bonds, which can convert into shareholders' equity in the event of a bank crisis. Banks must also hold enough liquidity to withstand a period of crisis without outside help, the commission said.
"This ensures ample time to implement crisis measures, and all options remain open for continuation or orderly winding down" of the bank, the commission wrote in its 51-page report.
The body was set up late last year, after the Swiss government had to step in and shore up UBS in October 2008. Because of the two banks' large size and importance to the Swiss economy, Swiss officials vowed to examine the too-big-to-fail issue in connection with the lenders.
Measures considered but rejected by the experts include what the financial regulator termed "overly interventionary" steps such as a split-up of UBS or Credit Suisse; an explicit state guarantee; and what is called burden-sharing, or splitting up obligations to deal with failing banks between two countries.
Credit Suisse welcomed the decision not to split up either bank, adding that any measures shouldn't make the banks less competitive relative to their foreign rivals. "We believe that these measures need to be coordinated internationally. It is important to ensure that they don't have an excessive impact on the financial center and the entire business community that could ultimately threaten the growth and competitiveness of the Swiss economy," Credit Suisse said in a statement.
"UBS has taken note of the interim report," UBS said. "We will not comment on specific measures at the present time."
Commission head Peter Siegenthaler said the body's final report, expected this fall, won't be made in isolation and will be coordinated with international initiatives, in particular those of the Financial Stability Board, a global regulatory body.
The expert commission's preliminary findings come one day after the Swiss regulator Finma and the Swiss National Bank tightened liquidity rules for UBS and Credit Suisse, effective June 30.
The main element of those rules is a requirement that banks have enough liquidity to survive under a "stringent" stress scenario that covers a general financial-market crisis as well as creditors' loss of trust in a bank."
At UBS's annual general assembly on Wednesday, shareholders voted against forgiving the bank’s 2007 management. The shareholder decision opens the door to possible civil or even criminal law suits.
It is unique for Switzerland that shareholders of a large public corporation vote against forgiving former management. Some see this as a victory of shareholder capitalism.
UBS today is lead by Oswald Grübel (CEO; ex Credit Suisse CEO) and former Swiss finance minister Kaspar Villiger (President). The new management is just on the way to achieve an impressive turnaround. UBS reported a Q1 2010 profit of approximately Swiss francs 2.5 billion. People close to the company tell that the new management succeeded in implementing a new culture which is dedicated to ethical behavior and strong customer orientation.
Grübel is completely aware that the shareholder decision of not forgiving the management acting prior to his period is a demonstration of shareholder power:
"The fact that we will continually be confronted with mistakes from the past is a reality we have to live with," Chief Executive Oswald Gruebel said.
But, he insisted: "We are a different bank from a year ago."
Find here some related links:
Here is a new Swiss weblog by authors Urs Birchler, Marius Brülhart and Monika Bütler, Professors at the Universities of Zurich, Lausanne and St. Gall
Here is a message about a US$ 290 speed fine of a Swiss driver. Judges at the cantonal court in St. Gallen, in eastern Switzerland, based the record-breaking fine on the speeder's estimated wealth of over $20 million.
And here is an assessment of wealth dependent fines by Harvard's G. Mankiw:
This looks like a good step!
In September 2009, Ethos and eight Swiss pension funds* filed a Say on Pay resolution requesting Zurich Financial Services, Swiss Re, Holcim and for the second time Novartis to submit their remuneration report to an advisory vote of the shareholders. Following the dialogue between Ethos and the targeted companies, Zurich Financial Services and Swiss Re have accepted to pro-actively submit their remuneration system/report to an advisory vote of the shareholders at their 2010 annual general meeting. However, the resolution will still be maintained on the agenda of the annual meetings of Novartis (26 February 2010) and Holcim (6 May 2010). read more
Here is an overview showing the companies in the Swiss Market Index which have and have not an advisory vote on the renumeration:
Tagesanzeiger published the results of an economic study about the prospects for the Swiss economy by Credit Suisse. Some of the important findings are:
David Bosshart, Head of the Gottfried Duttweiler Institute of Switzerland. Swiss have to re-learn to live with the delete button: focus on quality, learning, curiosity. Should stay away from conformism.
Guy ask: Why are the Swiss not present at the climate conference?
Other guy answers: Their climate is anyway destroyed after the last vote (meaning the minaret ban)...
"There is, alas, no immediate cure for the kind of social ills exposed by the Swiss referendum. The Pope has an answer, of course. He would like people to return to the bosom of Rome. Evangelical preachers, too, have a recipe for salvation. Neo-conservatives, for their part, see the European malaise as a form of typical Old World decadence, a collective state of nihilism bred by welfare states and soft dependence on hard American power. Their answer is a revived Western world, led by the United States, engaged in an armed crusade for democracy.
But, unless one is a Catholic, a born-again Christian, or a neo-con, none of these visions is promising. The best we can hope for is that liberal democracies will muddle through this period of unease – that demagogic temptations will be resisted, and violent impulses contained. After all, democracies have weathered worse crises in the past."
Source: Excerpt from article linked to above
Ray Soudah about how Switzerland could re-establish its pre-crisis reputation:
Moammar Kadafi petitioned the United Nations to abolish Switzerland. Various foreign journalist's have taken up the subject from this leader "of high integrity (...)" and have written critical articles about Switzerland in various newspapers. Still, there would be many people who would miss Switzerland: Here are some of them:
This are just a few reasons why many would miss Switzerland. There would be much more. Switzerland is open to talk to foreign people who would like to make a contribution to further develop this success model!
The Economic Institute of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (KOF) released its latest forecast for the Swiss economy yesterday. KOF is expecting a GDP decline of 3.4 per cent this year as compared to the previous year. KOF researchers expect a slow recovery in mid-2010. The result is that economic growth for 2010 will be a mere 0.1 per cent. Inflation in the coming year is expected to be 0.5 per cent. KOF expects that private consumption will only begin to recover during the second half of 2010. GDP is expected to grow by about 1.4 per cent in 2011. Unemployment will reach its zenith in 2011 at 5.5 per cent. KOF is substantially more pessimistic in its 2009 forecast than the Swiss State Secretariat (SECO) which expects a GDP decline of 1.7% for 2009 as compared to the previous year. KOF uses specific variables for raw material transfer trade (Switzerland is a gateway for raw material trade) and for inventory changes (where the State Secretariat uses European benchmarks). This can explain part of the difference as international raw material markets have seen a major decline at the beginning of the year. KOF statistics show that inventory declines of various Swiss companies have been particularly big.
How can somebody get it so wrong?
It is at least surprising that the State Secretariat has to correct GDP forecasts for 2009 by 1% within a period of 2 months:
The Swiss economy is stabilising but a sluggish recovery in 2010 will result in high unemployment, government forecasters have said.
There will be a weaker decline of the gross domestic product (GDP) than was predicted, down 1.7 per cent compared with a 2.7 per cent contraction forecast in June, according to the quarterly economic tendencies report published by the State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (Seco) on Tuesday. read more
This has nothing to do with the subjects we normally deal with. But take a break and have a look at this amazing shot of Roger Federer!
High-earning financiers who are unhappy with Gordon Brown’s plans for a 50 per cent top rate of income tax are being targeted by Swiss cantons hoping to persuade them to decamp to the alpine air and light tax regime.
The cantons’ marketing drive is aimed primarily at Mayfair’s hedge fund industry, which has seen a trickle of relocations from London to Switzerland. read more
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