Currency Soars

Switzerland Raises the Drawbridge

Swiss Alps cow EU flag euro
On the currency markets, the Swiss Franc has gained in popularity.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Switzerland’s decision to abandon its currency peg against the euro could trigger a new wave of defensive currency revaluations around the world, and feed fringe movements in Germany to abandon the euro.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Switzerland on Thursday decoupled the Swiss franc from the euro, sending the euro plunging up to 40 percent.
    • The ensuing currency panic was used in Germany as a warning against attempts to abandon the euro for the deutsche mark.
    • On Friday, the euro had recovered slightly against the Swiss currency, and was down 16% since the rate change at €1.01 per Swiss franc.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Bernd Lucke, spokesman for a small German political party that would like his country to abandon the euro, felt vindicated once again.

An opinion this week by the European Court of Justice validating the European Central Bank’s bond purchase plans gave new ammunition to the chairman of the Alternative for Germany party. On Wednesday, Mr. Lucke said the court’s support for the ECB to begin its own version of quantitative easing shows the euro is dysfunctional, and Germany could easily return to the deutsche mark.

While most Germans oppose such a move, some occasionally wax nostalgic about the less expensive days of the deutsche mark that ended almost 16 years ago. But 24 hours later, Mr. Lucke’s promise of a painless mark comeback was refuted in an indisputable manner – by the Swiss National Bank, ironically.

The Swiss central bank unexpectedly abandoned its long-standing support for a minimum exchange rate of 1.20 Swiss francs per euro, which triggered a panic in the markets. Within minutes, the Swiss franc catapulted upwards, gaining 39 percent against the euro and U.S. dollar.

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