Concept

Swiss National Bank

Summary
The Swiss National Bank (SNB; Schweizerische Nationalbank; Banque nationale suisse; Banca nazionale svizzera; Banca naziunala svizra) is the central bank of Switzerland, responsible for the nation's monetary policy and the sole issuer of Swiss franc banknotes. The primary goal of its mandate is to ensure price stability, while taking economic developments into consideration. The SNB is an Aktiengesellschaft under special regulations and has two head offices, one in Bern and the other in Zurich. The bank formed as a result of the need for a reduction in the number of commercial banks issuing banknotes, which numbered 53 sometime after 1826. In the 1874 revision of the Federal Constitution it was given the task to oversee laws concerning the issuing of banknotes. In 1891, the Federal Constitution was revised again to entrust the Confederation with sole rights to issue banknotes. The Swiss National Bank was founded under the law of 6 October 1905 ('the National Bank Act'), which entered into force on 16 January 1906. Business was started on 20 June 1907. Sometime during World War I (1914–1917) the bank was instructed to release notes of small denomination, for the first time, by the Federal Council of Switzerland. The Federal Council devalued the Swiss Franc during 1936, and as a result there was made available to the National Bank an amount of money, which the bank subsequently stored in a Währungsausgleichsfonds reserve for use in future situations of emergency. Switzerland during the World Wars The Swiss National Bank provided 1.2 billion CHF to the Reichsbank. Of this, a value of approximately 780 million CHF of the gold given to the National Bank was gold which had been looted by the forces of Germany. In addition the National Bank also exchanged between 1.2 and 1.6 billion CHF for gold from the Allied forces. During 20 April 1944, gold from the gold reserves of Italy arrived from Como at the railway station within Chiasso. There is controversy over the role of the Swiss National Bank in the transfer of Nazi gold during World War II.
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