Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. US Housing Market Real Estate Crash The Next Shoe To Drop – Part II - Chris_Vermeulen
2.The Coronavirus Greatest Economic Depression in History? - Nadeem_Walayat
3.US Real Estate Housing Market Crash Is The Next Shoe To Drop - Chris_Vermeulen
4.Coronavirus Stock Market Trend Implications and AI Mega-trend Stocks Buying Levels - Nadeem_Walayat
5. Are Coronavirus Death Statistics Exaggerated? Worse than Seasonal Flu or Not?- Nadeem_Walayat
6.Coronavirus Stock Market Trend Implications, Global Recession and AI Stocks Buying Levels - Nadeem_Walayat
7.US Fourth Turning Accelerating Towards Debt Climax - James_Quinn
8.Dow Stock Market Trend Analysis and Forecast - Nadeem_Walayat
9.Britain's FAKE Coronavirus Death Statistics Exposed - Nadeem_Walayat
10.Commodity Markets Crash Catastrophe Charts - Rambus_Chartology
Last 7 days
Stock Investors What to do if Trump Bans TikTok - 5th Aug 20
Gold Trifecta of Key Signals for Gold Mining Stocks - 5th Aug 20
Stock Market Uptrend Continues? - 4th Aug 20
The Dimensions of Covid-19: The Hong Kong Flu Redux - 4th Aug 20
High Yield Junk Bonds Are Hot Again -- Despite Warning Signs - 4th Aug 20
Gold Stocks Autumn Rally - 4th Aug 20
“Government Sachs” Is Worried About the Federal Reserve Note - 4th Aug 20
Gold Miners Still Pushing That Cart of Rocks Up Hill - 4th Aug 20
UK Government to Cancel Christmas - Crazy Covid Eid 2020! - 4th Aug 20
Covid-19 Exposes NHS Institutional Racism Against Black and Asian Staff and Patients - 4th Aug 20
How Sony Is Fueling the Computer Vision Boom - 3rd Aug 20
Computer Gaming System Rig Top Tips For 6 Years Future Proofing Build Spec - 3rd Aug 20
Cornwwall Bude Caravan Park Holidays 2020 - Look Inside Holiday Resort Caravan - 3rd Aug 20
UK Caravan Park Holidays 2020 Review - Hoseasons Cayton Bay North East England - 3rd Aug 20
Best Travel Bags for 2020 Summer Holidays , Back Sling packs, water proof, money belt and tactical - 3rd Aug 20
Precious Metals Warn Of Increased Volatility Ahead - 2nd Aug 20
The Key USDX Sign for Gold and Silver - 2nd Aug 20
Corona Crisis Will Have Lasting Impact on Gold Market - 2nd Aug 20
Gold & Silver: Two Pictures - 1st Aug 20
The Bullish Case for Stocks Isn't Over Yet - 1st Aug 20
Is Gold Price Action Warning Of Imminent Monetary Collapse - Part 2? - 1st Aug 20
Will America Accept the World's Worst Pandemic Response Government - 1st Aug 20
Stock Market Technical Patterns, Future Expectations and More – Part II - 1st Aug 20
Trump White House Accelerating Toward a US Dollar Crisis - 31st Jul 20
Why US Commercial Real Estate is Set to Get Slammed - 31st Jul 20
Gold Price Blows Through Upside Resistance - The Chase Is On - 31st Jul 20
Is Crude Oil Price Setting Up for a Waterfall Decline? - 31st Jul 20
Stock Market Technical Patterns, Future Expectations and More - 30th Jul 20
Why Big Money Is Already Pouring Into Edge Computing Tech Stocks - 30th Jul 20
Economic and Geopolitical Worries Fuel Gold’s Rally - 30th Jul 20
How to Finance an Investment Property - 30th Jul 20
I Hate Banks - Including Goldman Sachs - 29th Jul 20
NASDAQ Stock Market Double Top & Price Channels Suggest Pending Price Correction - 29th Jul 20
Silver Price Surge Leaves Naysayers in the Dust - 29th Jul 20
UK Supermarket Covid-19 Shop - Few Masks, Lack of Social Distancing (Tesco) - 29th Jul 20
Budgie Clipped Wings, How Long Before it Can Fly Again? - 29th Jul 20
How To Take Advantage Of Tesla's 400% Stock Surge - 29th Jul 20
Gold Makes Record High and Targets $6,000 in New Bull Cycle - 28th Jul 20
Gold Strong Signal For A Secular Bull Market - 28th Jul 20
Anatomy of a Gold and Silver Precious Metals Bull Market - 28th Jul 20
Shopify Is Seizing an $80 Billion Pot of Gold - 28th Jul 20
Stock Market Minor Correction Underway - 28th Jul 20
Why College Is Never Coming Back - 27th Jul 20
Stocks Disconnect from Economy, Gold Responds - 27th Jul 20
Silver Begins Big Upside Rally Attempt - 27th Jul 20
The Gold and Silver Markets Have Changed… What About You? - 27th Jul 20
Google, Apple And Amazon Are Leading A $30 Trillion Assault On Wall Street - 27th Jul 20
This Stock Market Indicator Reaches "Lowest Level in Nearly 20 Years" - 26th Jul 20
New Wave of Economic Stimulus Lifts Gold Price - 26th Jul 20
Stock Market Slow Grind Higher Above the Early June Stock Highs - 26th Jul 20
How High Will Silver Go? - 25th Jul 20
If You Own Gold, Look Out Below - 25th Jul 20
Crude Oil and Energy Sets Up Near Major Resistance – Breakdown Pending - 25th Jul 20
FREE Access to Premium Market Forecasts by Elliott Wave International - 25th Jul 20
The Promise of Silver as August Approaches: Accumulation and Conversation - 25th Jul 20
The Silver Bull Gateway is at Hand - 24th Jul 20
The Prospects of S&P 500 Above the Early June Highs - 24th Jul 20
How Silver Could Surpass Its All-Time High - 24th Jul 20

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Get Rich Investing in Stocks by Riding the Electron Wave

Switzerland Frees the Swiss Franc

Currencies / Fiat Currency Jan 17, 2015 - 06:57 PM GMT

By: Frank_Hollenbeck


You can fix your currency or you run independent monetary policy. But you cannot do both at the same time. In spectacular fashion, the Swiss government finally capitulated and decided control over the money supply was more important than a fixed rate against the euro. The Swiss franc rocketed up 30 percent in value minutes after the central bank’s decision to let the currency float.

Switzerland established the peg to the euro of 1.2 Swiss francs to the euro in September of 2011, in the midst of the European financial crisis. To keep the peg intact, the Swiss central bank has been forced to buy massive quantities of euros with newly printed Swiss francs which they promptly converted into Euro government bonds. The impact on the money supply has been devastating. M1 in Switzerland has surged over 20 percent in the last three years and nearly 130 percent since 2008. The Swiss national bank’s balance sheet increased nearly 50 percent since the establishment of the peg. Of course, this has led to a surge in asset prices and has made Swiss housing even more unaffordable.

Why Peg the Franc to the Euro?

One of the reasons the Swiss central bank established the peg was on the notion that its currency was overvalued and that exporters were being unjustifiably hurt by the appreciating currency. Of course, the term overvaluation is loaded language. The market determines exchange value. In a capitalist economy, prices are set by supply and demand where everyone who wants to sell will find a buyer who wants to buy. Exchange rates are also determined by supply and demand. Nothing, including currencies, is over or undervalued.

The notion that exporters were hurt is also somewhat suspect. Exporters now have a myriad of financial products available to hedge foreign currency risks. Swaps can even allow them to hedge these risks long term. Also, an exporter imports many of its inputs. Globalization has forced many exporters to span the globe for resources. An appreciation therefore has less of an impact on an exporter’s profits since it not only reduces an exporter’s revenues but also lowers the cost of the exporter’s imported inputs (video).

The Swiss central bank should have been more concerned with stability of the money supply. It should never have been involved in gearing monetary policy to benefit one group of society — exporters — at the expense of another — consumers — from an appreciating currency.

The Swiss action, because of its suddenness and unpredictability, actually hurt exporters. When a country pegs a currency, an exporter is unlikely to hedge his foreign currency risk. The appreciation of the franc caught most exporters flatfooted, since they trusted the floor and had simply stopped hedging export revenues and import costs. This action will cost some exporters dearly. Some may be forced into bankruptcy.

Exporters are now being forced to make drastic adjustments to a sudden change, instead of incremental adjustments that would have occurred under a free float — an incremental adjustment that could have been hedged. It is clear that the Swiss central bank has probably done more harm than good. Is that surprising?

We must remember that every action will have winners and losers. Swiss consumers will benefit from lower prices. Domestic firms that import their inputs and sell on the domestic market will also gain.

The Cost of the Peg

In theory, the Swiss could have held the floor. To keep your currency from appreciating, all you need to do is print, print print. Of course, this printing is not without consequences. With this bold move, the Swiss have crossed the Rubicon. They cannot go back. They have indicated to speculators there is a pain threshold, or monetary expansion, that the Swiss are not willing to bear. Any attempt to set a new floor would set up a one way bet for speculators.

By pegging your currency to that of a bigger neighbor, you are essentially letting your neighbor determine your monetary policy. Dubai fixed its currency, the dirham, to the dollar and imported the US’s excessive monetary policy which led to the same real estate bubble in Dubai as the bubble in the US. In other words, by fixing your currency, you have to follow your bigger neighbor’s irresponsible monetary policy.

With the increasing likelihood that the European Central Bank would violate the Maastricht treaty and purchase sovereign debt, the Swiss finally decided they had had enough. The talk now is that the ECB will purchase over a trillion euros worth of bonds. To keep the peg, the Swiss would have had to increase the money supply by the same percentage, which would have been irresponsible monetary policy for such a small country.

By letting the peg go, Switzerland did the right thing. It should now concentrate on eliminating most EU debt from its balance sheet. There is an EU storm brewing, and Switzerland will no longer be one of the innocent bystanders.

Frank Hollenbeck, PhD, teaches at the International University of Geneva. See Frank Hollenbeck's article archives.

You can subscribe to future articles by Frank Hollenbeck via this RSS feed..

© 2015 Copyright Frank Hollenbeck - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

© 2005-2019 - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.

Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules