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Do Swiss foreign assets hedge the business cycle?

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  • Nicolas Stoffels

    ()

  • Cédric Tille

    ()

Abstract

While Switzerland’s net creditor position is sizable, it has long remained steady despite large and persistent current account surpluses. This pattern reflects valuation losses on Swiss foreign assets driven by movements in exchange rates and assets prices. We compute estimates of these valuation effects and the associated rates of returns on Swiss external assets and liabilities. While Switzerland benefits from a modest advantage in terms of yields (interest and dividends in percent of holdings), we show that this has been dwarfed by valuation losses driven by the strengthening of the Swiss franc, even before the crisis. We then assess the extent to which the return on assets and liabilities (including capital gains) provides a hedge against movements in Swiss GDP and the purchasing power of income. While we find little evidence of such a hedge at a quarterly frequency, financial returns provide some offset for business cycle movements at the horizon of a year. This hedging property has strengthened since 2010 and is more pronounced for privately held assets and liabilities than for the fast-growing holdings of reserves by the Swiss National Bank.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicolas Stoffels & Cédric Tille, 2018. "Do Swiss foreign assets hedge the business cycle?," Aussenwirtschaft, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science, Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economics Research, vol. 69(01), pages 1-40, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:usg:auswrt:2018:69:01:1-40
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    File URL: http://ux-tauri.unisg.ch/RePEc/usg/auswrt/AW_69-01__01_Stoffels-Tille.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Agustín S. Bénétrix & Philip R. Lane, "undated". "Cross-Country Exposures to the Swiss Franc," Trinity Economics Papers tep0116, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    2. Raphael A. Auer & Cedric Tille, 2016. "The banking sector and the Swiss financial account during the financial and European debt crises:," Aussenwirtschaft, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science, Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economics Research, vol. 67(02), pages 69-97, August.
    3. Curcuru, Stephanie E. & Thomas, Charles P. & Warnock, Francis E., 2013. "On returns differentials," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 1-25.
    4. Bénétrix, Agustin S. & Lane, Philip R. & Shambaugh, Jay C., 2015. "International currency exposures, valuation effects and the global financial crisis," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(S1), pages 98-109.
    5. Pınar Yeşin, 2015. "Capital Flow Waves to and from Switzerland before and after the Financial Crisis," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 151(I), pages 27-75, March.
    6. Kugler, Peter & Weder di Mauro, Beatrice, 2005. "Why Are Returns on Swiss Franc Assets So Low? Rare Events May Solve the Puzzle," CEPR Discussion Papers 5181, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier & Rey, Hélène, 2013. "External Adjustment, Global Imbalances and Valuation Effects," CEPR Discussion Papers 9566, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Cedric Tille, 2003. "The impact of exchange rate movements on U.S. foreign debt," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 9(Jan).
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    valuation effects; international risk sharing;

    JEL classification:

    • G15 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - International Financial Markets
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration
    • F44 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Business Cycles
    • F65 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Finance

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