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Swiss companies are not hoarding cash, central bank says

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The name of the bank is seen in German, French and Italian language over the entrance of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) in Zurich, Switzerland August 21, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss companies are not stockpiling cash in their strongrooms and offices to avoid being hit by negative interest rates, a Swiss National Bank (SNB) survey released on Thursday showed.

The SNB has charged commercial banks a negative rate of minus 0.75% since January 2015 as part of its strategy to weaken demand for the safe-haven franc.

Some banks have passed on the charge to their customers, triggering fears people anxious to avoid it could respond by hoarding cash.

But most companies (58%) told the SNB they did not keep cash as a store of value in the survey of 2,000 companies in Switzerland carried out by the central bank.

This share is more than double the share of companies holding cash for imminent transactions.

Roughly a third of companies held up to 50,000 Swiss francs ($54,095) in cash as a store of value, the study found. But just 1% held more than 1 million francs in cash, it added.

Most companies said they kept the cash on hand as a safety net, with less than 10% saying it was to avoid negative interest rates.

Central banks are generally against cash hoarding because it erodes the effectiveness of monetary policy by weakening the money creation process.

A study last year showed that 70% of Swiss households kept cash at home as a store of value, although the average amount was less than 1,000 francs and was usually put aside to deal with crisis situations.

($1 = 0.9243 Swiss francs)

Swiss companies are not hoarding cash, central bank says

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