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SNB's Jordan sees no need to adjust inflation target

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: General view of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) in Zurich

ZURICH (Reuters) - The Swiss National Bank (SNB) sees no need to adjust its definition of price stability from its current target of "a rise in consumer prices of less than 2% per year", Chairman Thomas Jordan in a speech he is due to deliver in Jackson, Wyoming.

Raising the inflation target would lead to an increase in expected and realised inflation, reducing the need to resort to unconventional monetary policy tools such as forex market interventions, Jordan says in the speech, a copy of which was released to reporters on Saturday.

He joins other central bank officials at the Jackson Hole conference hosted by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

But he said a significantly higher inflation target would not be compatible with ensuring price stability.

"Higher rates of inflation would be neither understood nor accepted in Switzerland," he said.

He also dismissed targeting an average inflation rate over a given period, saying the Swiss economy had proven it could deal well with temporary inflation shocks, and compensating for past deviations from a targeted average would massively increase volatility in prices and output.

A third possible adjustment - choosing a point target rather than a range - would complicate the implementation of the SNB's monetary policy. Targeting a range gave the central bank some flexibility as it could let inflation persist at the upper or lower end of the range for some time without losing credibility, Jordan said.

"In particular, this allows us to better absorb different global inflation regimes," he said, adding that in recent years the SNB would have had to take significantly stronger monetary policy easing measures if it had wanted to meet a 2% point target for inflation.

The European Central Bank set a new inflation target of 2% last year and said it would consider climate change criteria for its asset purchases.

Realism and flexibility in the inflation target do not mean compromising on price stability, Jordan said. "We have repeatedly proved that we are prepared to act decisively if price stability is at threat," he said.

The SNB raised rates by 50 basis points in June.

Jordan also rejected the idea of broadening the SNB's mandate to include climate protection or wealth redistribution, saying these were ultimately political goals the SNB did not have the instruments to address.

(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)