Moving among currency giants – a Swiss perspective

Bruno Gehrig, Vice Chairman of the Governing Board

Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce, Zurich, 16.01.2001

On the stage of global currency developments the Swiss franc, which has floated freely since 1973, plays a minor part. In relation to the size of our country, however, its position as a trading and investment currency is quite disproportionate. In the long term, the Swiss franc has appreciated by 0.6% on a yearly average, due mainly to its attractiveness as an investment currency and the high external current account surpluses.

For two years the euro has been the Swiss franc's big currency neighbour. Despite initial fears, no negative exchange rate distortions have occurred during this period. On the contrary: the Swiss franc/euro exchange rate has supported the intended effects of monetary policy somewhat. This experience makes it seem advisable to adhere to the system of freely floating exchange rates. From an economic vantage point, a change in system is hardly indicated in the near future. Whether this assessment will be revised or not in the long term cannot and should not be decided today.