Swiss Banking in an International Context by W. Blackman

By W. Blackman

A research of Swiss monetary associations which goals to find why Swiss banking has been so singularly winning within the face of foreign debt and fiscal crises. The booklet additionally offers a theoretical research of foreign banking, using the Swiss instance as a case study.

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There is a difference, of course, between the marginal social product and the bank's marginal product of capital. Swiss banks achieve their maximum economic efficiency when they equate their own marginal product from their investment with the marginal social product - the marginal product which results from the optimum allocation of society's resources. When the banks are successful in this equation, their profits are as high as possible given the least risk to themselves and to their depositors.

The Swiss banks have had long experience in the business of underwriting bonds; indeed, such business is one of their important sources of income. They accept the debtor's obligation, on the one hand, and proceed to seIl these bonds to clients, on the other. Any unsaleable surplus wh ich might exist is absorbed by the banks themselves. In the past, the Swiss have developed a 'turntable' effect, such that whenever, for reasons of monetary policy, the gentlemen's agreements discouraged the import of capital into Switzerland via the Swiss franc, the capital would be immediately switched from the franc into the foreign currency of the borrower.

This fact of confidence is extremely elementary, yet much confusion has surrounded it. The confusion arises because, as bankers know, some cash is required by customers for payment purposes; hence an amount of cash must be available in the banks to satisfy this requirement at all times. Not to have cash available would erode the confidence which is at the heart of banking. This me ans that a 'reserve', however defined, of cash must be either ready at hand or very dose so as to meet customers' needs.

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