When central banks implement monetary policies never tried before, there are always ramifications that take place that no one could have forecast. For example, in both Germany and Japan there has been an incredible run on safes because individuals are flocking en masse to get money out of the banking system and store it within their domiciles to avoid negative interest rate (NIRP) fees or bail-ins.
But in Switzerland the consequences of NIRP have sparked a different reaction as businesses holding large amounts of deposits in their banks are taking out insurance on their money that they currently keep in a bank.
Why? To mitigate the losses the banks will take from them due to negative rate fees.
Only unlike Japan and Germany, the Swiss are much more subtle about their cash hoarding than telling the neighborhood they have a stash of cash in their home by publicly buying a safe; instead, as Bloomberg reports, more and more companies are taking out insurance policies to protect their cash hoards from theft or damage.
"Because of the low interest rate level, we note increasing demand for insurance solutions for the storage of cash," said Philipp Surholt at Zurich Insurance Group AG, among underwriters reporting a surge in such requests. "We’re seeing demand for coverage for sums ranging from 100 million to 500 million francs."
Where the Swiss also differ from many other nations is that numerous local banks have already passed on negative rates to their wealthiest customers. The SNB imposed NIRP in early 2015, charging banks for excess deposits. Many lenders including UBS Group AG and Credit Suisse Group AG have passed on at least some of the burden, they don’t disclose how much, to cash-rich clients like asset managers and big companies.
Meanwhile, a fascinating arbitrage has emerged between NIRP and insurance costs: Helvetia Holding said it charges about 1,000 francs ($1,020) a year to insure 1 million francs, a fraction of the 7,500 francs a company would pay to park the same amount in a bank for a year, assuming the lender passes on the full charge. While that amount doesn’t include the cost of logistics such as transport or security features like reinforced walls, guards and alarm systems, those may not be an issue for the wealthiest clients who already own their own safes and have their own means of transportation of the physical cash. - Zerohedge