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Switzerland pegs Franc to Euro

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  • Switzerland pegs Franc to Euro

    Switzerland pegs franc to euro

    By Jules Caron (AFP) – 1 hour ago

    ZURICH — Switzerland sprang a surprise, pegging the Swiss franc down against the euro on Tuesday, but analysts said this was a risky defence against the eurozone crisis.

    The franc, which has surged by about 20 percent as investors seek refuge from the eurozone crisis, dropped nearly 10.0 percent after the central bank issued this and other signals that it would fight the inflow of funds.

    The bank said that it stood ready with more measures to ring fence the franc.

    "With immediate effect, (the SNB) will no longer tolerate a EUR/CHF exchange rate below the minimum rate of CHF 1.20," the Swiss central bank said in a statement.

    "The current massive overvaluation of the Swiss franc poses an acute threat to the Swiss economy and carries the risk of a deflationary development," it said.

    But analysts warned that this line in the market would be hard to defend.

    Switzerland is not a member of the European Union and so is not a member of the eurozone, but its economy is heavily dependent on exports notably to the eurozone, and the rise of the franc is hitting industry and tourism hard.

    The franc dropped sharply, rallied narrowly and settled within small margins of the new exchange rate, around 8.5 percent lower than at the beginning of the day.

    The stockmarket surged by 5.20 percent at first, then showed a gain of 4.5 percent to 5,373.93 points.

    Switzerland, with a sound balance sheet and a growing economy, has proved to be an attractive option for those fleeing economic turmoil abroad.

    With investors keen to hold francs, the currency has risen significantly. In early August it was up about 20 percent against the euro -- briefly flirting with parity -- and 25 percent against the dollar compared to 2009, to the detriment of local exporters.

    To discourage investment in the franc, the SNB cut its base lending rates to almost zero in August and increased liquidity three times, but with apparently little impact.

    One typical tool for a central bank in such circumstances is to go on cutting rates. But now the central bank had few options other than to peg the currency, said Picte bank analyst Bernard Lambert.

    "The franc was rising quite quickly the last few days because of what was going on in Europe," he told AFP. "If (the SNB) had not done anything, the movement would continue.

    Lambert explained that the peg would require the Swiss National Bank to buy large amounts of euros to stabilise the franc, but this would be successful only if investors believed that the central bank was determined.

    "If the move is credible, you do not have to buy euros," Bernard Lambert, an analyst at Pictet told AFP.

    "But if the crisis continues, the SNB will have to spend billions," he said.

    An analyst at bank Julius Baer told AFP the SNB would have to spend an estimated maximum of 80-100 billion francs (66.5 to 83.1 billion euros) per day to implement its new policy.

    "In a week (that is) more than the Swiss GDP," he said.

    That view was shared by investment bank Goldman Sachs which said that the policy would be credible only "as long as the authorities are prepared to accept the liquidity implications of this potentially very large intervention."

    This was a reference to the fact that to buy euros, the central bank will have to put other means of exchange into the market from reserves, and also Swiss francs into the Swiss money supply.

    But Natixis bank said that economic developments abroad would determine the success of the policy.

    "Keeping in mind the experience of last year, a target of 1.20 in the current environment of debt crises in the US and the eurozone will be hard to defend," it said.

    None of the analysts however seemed particularly concerned about inflationary risks, with Goldman Sachs saying it was "remote".

    Some analysts were also sceptical about the effect on the Swiss economy.

    "The SNB?s decision to apply a floor of 1.20 per euro to the Swiss franc is a bold move, but that level is still relatively high, implying that the economy will suffer nonetheless," an analyst at Capital Economics said.

    There is still "substantial overvaluation" even at the new exchange rate, Goldman Sachs concurred.

    The SNB added however it had "the utmost determination and is prepared to buy foreign currency in unlimited quantities," saying that the peg value was "still high" but that further measures could be taken if deflationary risks persisted.

    Copyright 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.
    Interesting move...

  • #2
    Imagine Bernanke in this situation - "Buy more presses"
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

    Comment


    • #3
      I doubt it's sustainable. See: SNB steps in to weaken Swiss franc - FT.com

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      • #4
        The SNB imposed a ceiling on the value of the franc; it did not peg it to the euro.
        The CHF1.20:€1 rate is a good one, strong enough to hurt. If they tried a weaker rate, the markets would have smelled blood.

        An analyst at bank Julius Baer told AFP the SNB would have to spend an estimated maximum of 80-100 billion francs (66.5 to 83.1 billion euros) per day to implement its new policy.

        "In a week (that is) more than the Swiss GDP," he said.
        Therein lies the rub. The markets are bigger, more liquid and uninterested in the mere politics, economics or societal results of their actions. They only respond to baser instincts, such as pain, pleasure and profit.

        The SNB is going to have to pull out the regulatory big guns very soon, either restricting (punishing with high fees) speculation or finding some other way of convincing the financial wolfpack to go pick on someone else.
        Trust me?
        I'm an economist!

        Comment


        • #5
          You realize that they can just start printing more money, thereby at the same time devalueing the Franc and getting money for currency buys?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by kato View Post
            You realize that they can just start printing more money, thereby at the same time devalueing the Franc and getting money for currency buys?

            Switzerland has no inflation, so that might be one option. But, it probably won't be necessary.
            Trust me?
            I'm an economist!

            Comment


            • #7
              Switzerland tried running the presses first without desired results.
              No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

              To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

              Comment


              • #8
                With the crashing EURO Swiss industry was getting hammered.

                They had to do something.

                Comment

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