By Graeme Wearden
September 6, 2011
Switzerland sparked fears of a new currency war on Tuesday after it pegged the Swiss franc against the euro in an attempt to protect its economy from the European debt crisis.
The Swiss National Bank in effect devalued the franc, pledging to buy “unlimited quantities” of foreign currencies to force down its value. The SNB warned that it would no longer allow one Swiss franc to be worth more than €0.83 – equivalent to SFr1.20 to the euro – having watched the two currencies move closer to parity as Switzerland became a “safe haven” from the ravages of the eurozone crisis.
The move stunned currency traders, and sent the Swiss franc tumbling against other currencies. Jeremy Cook, chief economist at currency brokers World First, said it was “intervention on a grand scale”, and the start of a “new battle in the currency wars”.
“That was the single largest foreign exchange move I have ever seen … The Swiss franc has lost close on 9% in the past 15 minutes. This dwarfs moves seen post-Lehman brothers, 7/7, and other major geo-political events in the past decade,” Cook said.