Philipp Hildebrand

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Philipp Hildebrand
Born Philipp Michael Hildebrand
(1963-07-19) 19 July 1963 (age 50)
Bern, Switzerland
Nationality Swiss
Spouse(s) Kashya Hildebrand,
born Kashya Mahmood[1]
Children Natalia Hildebrand[1]

Philipp Michael Hildebrand (born 19 July 1963) is a Swiss banker. He was head of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) until he resigned on 9 January 2012.[2][3] In January, 2010, the Swiss Federal Council had appointed him to the positions of chairman of the governing board and head of Department I (Economic Affairs, International Affairs, Legal and Property Services) of the SNB in Zurich. He had been a member of the central bank's governing board since 2003. He currently serves as a Vice Chairman of BlackRock.

Education and career[edit]

Hildebrand attended the University of Toronto, Oxford University, and the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. He was part of a group of students that helped out during the Annual Meetings of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. There, he met leading international government officials and bankers,[citation needed] and in 1994 he began his professional career at WEF. He worked at Moore Capital Management, a hedge fund in New York and London, where he met his wife.[4] He then worked as head of hedge funds for Geneva-based Union Bancaire Privée before he joined the SNB.[citation needed] Hildebrand was said to be the "youngest ever policy maker" when he joined the SNB in 2003.[5]

Prior to his resignation from the SNB, he was a member of the board of directors of the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, as well as vice-chairman of the Financial Stability Board. Since 2008, he has been a member of the Group of Thirty.

In late 2011, The Banker magazine named Hildebrand "Central Bank Governor of the Year 2012".[6]

Philipp Hildebrand will join Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government as a senior visiting fellow.[7]

Controversy around the 2009/2010 exchange rate interventions[edit]

Hildebrand was attacked after losses arising from SNB’s exchange rate interventions between March 2009 and June 2010. In this period, the SNB accumulated foreign currency reserves worth over 200 billion Swiss francs (Codes: CHF, SFr). As the Swiss franc has appreciated, the interventions caused losses on SNB foreign currency positions equivalent to 26.5 billion Swiss francs in 2010 and 11.7 billion Swiss francs in the first six months of 2011.[8] The SNB has defended these interventions as they made “sense at the zero lower bound when the traditional monetary policy instrument is exhausted”.[9] Some international press and financial market analysts considered the interventions a “costly failure”.[10]

The People’s Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei (SVP) / Union Démocratique du Centre (UDC)) and the magazine Weltwoche are critics of Hildebrand, demanding his resignation. Prominent figures of other parties supported Hildebrand and emphasized the political independence of the SNB. In an article titled “With Unsteady Hand”, Switzerland’s major business magazine Bilanz criticized Mr. Hildebrand’s leadership of SNB, citing his limited experience and saying that Mr. Hildebrand’s actions in large parts seem to be the result of his eagerness to appeal to the public.[11]

Pegging of the Swiss Franc to the Euro since 6 September 2011[edit]

Hildebrand is considered a driving force behind the pegging of the Swiss Franc to the Euro announced on 6 September 2011.[citation needed] The central bank commits to undertake transactions to cap the value of the franc against the euro at a maximum of 1.20.[12] In early August, the euro fell to near parity, at 1.00749, against the franc.[12] After initial cautious reactions by analysts,[13][14] the decision of the Swiss National Bank to aim to keep the Swiss Franc: Euro rate above 1.20 is considered to have been a success.[15]

2011 personal foreign exchange trading and resignation[edit]

In August, 2011, Hildebrand's wife Kashya[1][16][dead link] made a CHF 60,000 ($64,400) profit on a currency transaction. At the time, Philipp Hildebrand reported to the transaction to the SNB and moved to prevent future such trades with Bank Sarasin. His wife asserted her independent finance and banking experience as the basis for the "almost ridiculously cheap" trade.[2] In January, 2012, Philipp Hildebrand denied accusations of insider trading in relation to the transaction and called the coverage "a smear campaign".[17]

He said that his political foes endangered the secrecy laws and "the interests of Switzerland" with the accusations. "I made mistakes" in not canceling the trade, which profited from the SNB's decision to intervene in the currency markets two days later "but I always acted in line with the rules", he said.[18]

The profit in the later report was said to be CHF 75,000 (£50,000). A whistleblower alleged to have released the information about the trade has been fired and faces criminal investigations under Swiss banking secrecy laws.[18] Kashya, who runs an art gallery in Zurich[19] and previously traded currencies,[1] made two other transactions – the three totaled $2 million principal amount – but the other two "didn’t break central bank rules because they were more than six months apart". Philipp "told reporters he had donated all profits made from ... currency deals to a Swiss charitable organization [and] ... said the Swiss central bank’s rules already meet European standards. Germany’s ... Handelsblatt newspaper questioned this. 'If Hildebrand had been the guardian of the euro, and not the franc, then the European Central Bank’s rules would have given [him] no other option but to resign', the paper wrote."[16][dead link] The whistleblower was reported to have given the trade information to Christoph Blocher, vice president of the SVP,[5] and Blocher was one of the lead voices calling for Hildebrand's resignation after the disclosure.[20] Die Zeit in a strongly worded commentary downplayed any wrongdoing on Hildebrand's part, stressing the evidence was "stolen" and the resignation came only "to maintain credibility" of SNB.[3]

Hildebrand announced his resignation on January 9, 2012 stating that “Credibility is a central banker’s most valuable asset,” and that the accusations came “during a time when total focus is needed on the duties.” He also resigned his posts at the Bank for International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund.[4] He issued a statement that included copies of E-Mails between his wife, himself, and his banker, showing that he was aware of the controversial trade shortly after the order had been given by his wife, but failed to request that it be immediately cancelled.[21]

Hildebrand was succeeded by vice chairman and interim SNB head Thomas Jordan.[22]

On 7 March an independent audit by KPMG of financial transactions by all members of the governing board of the bank found no breach of regulations occurred.[23]

Personal[edit]

Hildebrand was a member of the Swiss national swimming team.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Poinsot, Nicolas (January 6, 2012). "Kashya Hildebrand, l’art et la devise". Les quotidiennes: un regard audacieux de femmes sur l’actualité (in French). Geneva, Switzerland: Edipresse Publications SA. lesquotidiennes.com. Retrieved January 12, 2012. "Une semaine après les premières révélations dans la presse alémanique, l’onde de choc de l’affaire Philipp Hildebrand se ressent encore et augure sans doute un véritable feuilleton judiciaire. Au mois de décembre dernier, Kashya Hildebrand, l’épouse du banquier, jusqu’ici retranchée au second plan, fait soudain les gros titres, suite aux accusations de l’homme fort de l’UDC : Christoph Blocher" 
  2. ^ a b "Hildebrand Quits as Swiss National Bank Chief after Wife's Currency Trade", Bloomberg, January 9, 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Ein Rücktritt sorgt für Glaubwürdigkeit: Kampagne gegen Hildebrand", Die Zeit, n.d. Headline translation (Google): "A withdrawal ensures credibility: Campaign against Hildebrand"; introduction (transl'n; page ("seite") 1): "The head of the Swiss National Bank withdraws. Not because he has violated laws, but to preserve its credibility. a comment". Per the (modestly competent machine) translation of the full page two, the word "smear" or apparent equivalent is not used.
  4. ^ a b Ewing, Jack (2012-01-09). "Swiss Central Bank Chief Tenders Surprise Resignation". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  5. ^ a b Goodman, David and Klaus Wille, "Swiss Franc Declines to Three-Week Low Versus Dollar; Hildebrand Will Stay", Bloomberg.com, January 5, 2012 11:15 am ET. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
  6. ^ "Central Bank Governor of the Year 2012 - Global and Americas" (free registration required), 19/12/2011. Hildebrand's name not used with non-registered access.
  7. ^ "Dr Philipp Hildebrand joins BSG", Oxford web page, n.d.
  8. ^ "Annual Report 2010". SNB. Retrieved 01.09.2011. 
  9. ^ Danthine, Jean Pierre. "Swiss monetary policy in the public eye". Speech at the Money Market Event Zurich, 24 March 2011. SNB. Retrieved 2 September 2011. 
  10. ^ "Resurgent Swiss franc seems unstoppable". Financial Times. Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  11. ^ "Nationalbank: Mit unruhiger Hand". BILANZ (#15, 2011). Retrieved 2011-08-26. 
  12. ^ a b Joly, David (2011-09-06). "Swiss Central Bank Acts to Put a Cap on Franc's Rise". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  13. ^ Wearden, Graeme (September 6, 2011). "Swiss bid to peg 'safe haven' franc to the euro stuns currency traders". Guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 05.01.2012. 
  14. ^ Artus, Patrick (September 21, 2011). "Can currency pegs succeed?". Natixis Economic research #680. Retrieved 05.01.2012. 
  15. ^ Longchamp, Yves (November 10, 2011). "Don't fight the Swiss National Bank". Pictet Perspectives. Retrieved 05.01.2012. 
  16. ^ a b "Swiss central bank chief won’t resign over private dollar deals, regrets letting wife prevail", Associated Press via Washington Post, January 5, 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
  17. ^ Sky News
  18. ^ a b Aldrick, Philip, 'Switzerland's central bank chairman denies accusations of insider trading', The Daily Telegraph, January 6, 2012, B1.
  19. ^ Mir, Meritxell, "'Something rotten in Switzerland': Blocher", The Local, 9 January 2012 11:46 GMT+1 as updated. Retrieved 2012-01-09.
  20. ^ Hildebrand, Philipp (9 January 2012), Statement, Swiss National Bank, retrieved 12.01.2012 
  21. ^ Watts, William L., "Jordan: Won't tolerate test of Swiss franc ceiling", MarketWatch, February 7, 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  22. ^ swissinfo.ch