Saturday, August 13, 2011

Desperate Swiss eye euro peg to repel safe-haven flood

Switzerland is mulling drastic measures to fend off safe-haven flows from Euroland and stop the relentless rise of the Swiss franc crippling large parts of the country's economic base.

The franc retreated against the euro in a wild-one day move on Thursday after top officials at the Swiss National Bank (SNB) floated ideas for a temporary euro peg, a once unthinkable move.

"Nothing is excluded," said Jean-Pierre Danthine, a SNB board member. "The situation is extremely complex and difficult. There is no magic wand."

The Swiss franc has moved with gold over recent weeks, acting as a magnet for capital flight from the discredited debt currencies of West. The SNB said the franc is "massively overvalued" and has moved into dangerous territory over the past month.

The hotel and restaurant lobby GastroSuisse said the 240,000 strong tourist sector was in an "extremely precarious" state, while the machine tool industry risks major lay-offs and loss of investment to foreign sites.

The SNB has already flooded the banking system with SwFr80bn (£65bn), a vast sum for a country of less than 8m people. This was overpowered by a wall of money on Wednesday after contagion hit French banks and the US Federal Reserve pledged to hold rates near zero until mid-2013. (more)