As polls continue to swing around ahead of the Swiss gold referendum on 30th November, we expect increased volatility in the FX and gold market. After the implementation of the EURCHF floor, gold’s share of the SNB balance sheet has fallen to 7.5% from around 30% in 2007 (top chart). The SNB has already pointed out the untenable nature of the peg should the referendum pass, but the impact on the gold market would also be significant. Taking the current balance sheet of 522bn CHF and spot gold prices, the requirement to hold at least 20% of assets in gold would necessitate buying 1,800 tonnes of gold over 5 years. Total global production in 2013 was 2,982 tonnes, thus the SNB would need to buy at least 10% of the annual production every year for the next 5 years.
The bottom chart shows the latest composition of the SNB’s FX reserves. The requirement to buy gold will necessitate selling reserves, mainly EUR (which makes up 45% of all reserves). Should these euro selling flows come to pass, it will weigh heavily on the currency.
Source: Variant Perception and Macrobond