In the most ironic story of the day, the company that makes the paper that Swiss banknotes are printed on was just bailed out by the money-printing, stock-purchasing, plunge-protecting, savior-of-global equities…Swiss National Bank.
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In a quarter in which the world was – supposedly – growing on all cylinders, and in which the S&P was making record high after record high, one central bank was quietly buying everything in sight….
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Switzerland is a small country of just 8 million people, but they make an outsized impact on economics and finance and money.
Because Switzerland is considered a safe haven and a well-run country, many people would like to hold large amounts of their assets in the Swiss franc. This makes the Swiss franc intolerably strong for Swiss businesses and citizens.
So the Swiss National Bank (SNB) has to print a great deal of money and use nonconventional means to hold down the value of their currency. Their overnight repo rate is -0.75%.
As Icahn was selling, or just before as we don’t know precisely when Icahn, who has since indicated he has turned massively bearish on the overall market, one entity was buying every AAPL share it could find. In fact, according to its latest 13F, everyone’s favorite central bank that openly admits it is also a wholesale buyer of stocks (with a portfolio of some $100 billion), the Swiss National Bank reveals that in Q1 it bought another 4.1 million in AAPL shares, bringing its total to a record 14.5 milion shares.
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By now it is common knowledge that when it comes to massive, taxpayer-backed hedge funds, few are quite as big as the Swiss National Bank, whose roughly $100 billion in equity holdings have been extensively profiled on these pages, including its woefully investments in Valeant and the spike in its buying of AAPL stock at its all time high.
But while the SNB’s stock holdings are updated every quarter courtesy of its informative SEC-filed 13F (we wish the Fed would also disclose the equities it holds courtesy of its Citadel proxy), getting a gllimpse of the flow is more problematic, and involves waiting for the hedge fund’s, pardon central bank’s annual report.