Chaos was seen in financial markets today as participants were thrown a curveball when Switzerland surprised the world by removing its three-year cap on the Swiss franc, unpegging it from the euro. This sent the undervalued currency soaring and Europe’s shares and bond yields tumbling.
In just 13 minutes, from 0930 to 0952 BST, the franc collapsed by 30%. Swiss shares fell more than 12% – their largest crash since 1987. Stock markets around Europe fell with investors buying “safe haven” assets such as German bunds and gold bullion.
Gold rose in all major currencies and approached a three-month high following Switzerland’s unexpected decision to decouple its currency from the euro.
In a chaotic few minutes on markets after the SNB’s announcement, the Swiss franc jumped to a record high against the euro, rocketed nearly 30 percent in a few minutes. The franc broke past parity against the euro to trade at 0.8052 francs per euro before trimming those gains to stand at 88.00 francs – it removed the 1.20 per euro cap it has had in place since late 2011. It also gained 25 percent against the dollar to trade at 74 francs per dollar.
The SNB ended a three-year-old policy designed to shield the economy from the euro area’s sovereign debt crisis, prevent the Swiss franc appreciating and pricing Swiss exports out of markets. The central bank lowered the interest rate on sight deposit account balances that exceed a given exemption threshold to minus 0.75 percent from minus 0.25 percent, it said in a statement today.
This is likely a coordinated move by the SNB in conjunction with the ECB in anticipation of a move against the flood of money that will likely materialise with the ECB in Frankfurt looking likely to start quantitative easing.
Gold climbed on the news and bullion for immediate delivery increased 2.3 percent to $1,257.01 near a 12 week high, as the dollar weakened. Gold is higher for a fifth day, the longest streak since June.
The move by the SNB is a dramatic one and smells of an emergency measure. Ultra loose monetary policies are here to stay and the SNB actions suggest loose money policies will intensify in the coming months.
The revaluation of the Swiss franc versus the dollar, pound and euro is a harbinger of what will happen to those same fiat currencies versus gold in the coming months and years. The Swiss franc is one of the safest fiat currencies in the world but gold remains the ultimate safe haven asset and form of money as has been seen throughout history and in recent years.
OUTLOOK 2015 – Uncertainty, Volatility, Possible Reset – DIVERSIFY
Today’s AM fix was USD 1,235.25, EUR 1,055.41 and GBP 811.76 per ounce.
Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,228.75, EUR 1,044.99 and GBP 808.76 per ounce.