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Credit Suisse FX Survey 2020 reveals Swiss companies do not expect euro to appreciate
Credit Suisse has surveyed some 1,280 Swiss SMEs and large companies to gauge their expectations for economic and exchange rate developments, and to find out how they deal with currency risks. More than half of respondents anticipate a stable performance for the Swiss economy in 2020. According to the companies surveyed, the euro should be worth around CHF 1.09 by the end of 2020. Of these same companies, a significant share (43%) hedge against foreign exchange risks.
For the fourth year in succession, Credit Suisse has conducted a survey of Swiss companies to establish their views on selected themes that could influence the global economy, central bank policy, and therefore the development of exchange rates.
Respondents from the service sector are more optimistic about general economic developments than respondents from the industrial sector. The former expect a weakening of economic growth in 34% of cases, versus 41% of the latter. Overall, a little more than half of respondents (52%) anticipate stable GDP growth and only 11% expect growth to accelerate. The Credit Suisse economists assume Swiss GDP will benefit from sporting events and a stabilization of the world economy in 2020, and thus anticipate a slightly higher GDP growth rate.
Fewer than half of respondents expect a move by the SNB in 2020
A majority of respondents (52%) do not expect any change in interest rates either, and therefore anticipate that the policy rate of the SNB will (still) be -0.75% at the end of 2020. At the same time, at least 26% expect another interest rate cut and 22% an interest rate hike.
Companies do not expect a strengthening of the euro
As a result of the weakening of global industry, respondents assume that the euro will level off at CHF 1.09 by the end of 2020 (CS forecast: CHF 1.15). They are thus forecasting a lower value than that of the previous year for the second year in a row – and they were right last year. The development of the GBP against the CHF is also viewed more skeptically than in the last survey. In the current survey, which was conducted between September 23 and November 8, 2019, respondents anticipate that the British pound will be worth around CHF 1.21 by the end of 2020 (CS forecast: CHF 1.40). The forecasts for the US dollar are not very volatile, having changed little since the end of 2018, and remain at around CHF 0.99 (CS forecast: CHF 1.00). These forecasts regarding foreign exchange developments are largely identical to the values that respondents have used for their annual budget preparation.
Importers tend to budget with a slightly stronger euro
When calculating the difference between the indicated EUR/CHF forecast of the companies surveyed and the exchange rate they use to establish their budgets, it appears that importers tend to budget with a slightly stronger euro. This means they are being deliberately cautious. Companies focused on the Swiss domestic market behave in a similar manner. In contrast, there are no discernible patterns for exporters and companies that work in both export and import.
Pure exporters hedge their foreign exchange risks to a slightly lesser extent
Among respondents, 43% actively hedge against foreign exchange risks. On average, this hedging covers 62% of the foreign currency transactions. In this context, there are certain differences between typical importers and exporters. For instance, the share of importing companies that hedge against foreign exchange risks is, at 47%, higher than that of exporting companies (40%). A total of 40% of strictly domestic market-oriented respondents also hedge. This indicates that they, too, carry out certain transactions in one or more foreign currencies. Companies that both export and import have the highest rate of hedged risk at 67%.
Service sector hedges larger share of transactions in foreign currencies
Service providers and companies in the industrial sector are equal with regard to the share of companies that hedge against foreign exchange risk at 43% each. However, a closer examination shows that companies from the service sector cover a greater share of their transactions in foreign currency (67%) through hedging than companies from the industrial sector (56%). Meanwhile, last year's survey by Credit Suisse has shown that industrial companies are slightly more likely to be naturally hedged against currency fluctuations against the USD than service providers, since they carry out more purchase transactions than sales transactions in USD. This could be part of the reason why the hedging share is slightly lower among exporters.
About the survey
This year's survey, which was conducted online between September 23 and November 8, 2019, involved the participation of 1,280 corporate clients of Credit Suisse, ranging from sole proprietorships with annual sales of a few hundred thousand francs to major corporations with more than 1,000 employees and annual sales in excess of CHF 1 billion. In this context, it should be noted that the vast majority of companies surveyed carry out foreign trade in one form or another; that is, we are mainly dealing with exporters and importers. Only slightly more than 10% of participants focus on the Swiss domestic market. In contrast, the industrial and service sectors are equally represented.
The publication "Assessment of exchange rate developments – results of the 2020 client survey" is available online in German, French, Italian, and English at: www.credit-suisse.com/fx