Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Mansori: Swiss FAQs

by Calculated Risk on 9/06/2011 09:33:00 PM

Some analysis from Kash Mansori: Swiss FAQs. Excerpts:

6. Will the announced exchange rate floor of 1.20 CHF/euro be modified?
It's possible, and in fact, the announcement by the SNB indicated that they would like the CHF to weaken further over time. This is a very sensible strategy by the SNB, and I wouldn't be surprised if they soon make an explicit promise to gradually ratchet up the exchange rate from 1.20. The reason is because only by promising investors that their CHF portfolio will suffer exchange rate losses over time can the SNB really do something to staunch the flow of funds into Switzerland -- a fixed exchange rate of 1.20 won't do it. The SNB will probably give it a little time to see if the flow of funds into Switzerland slows as a result of today's action, but if it doesn't, then look for the SNB to set a gradually rising target exchange rate going forward.

7. How will this affect the eurozone?
That depends in part on what the SNB decides to do with all of those euro it will be accumulating. Some reports suggest that the SNB (typically cautious) had decided to only buy German and French government bonds with those euro, and not bonds from other eurozone countries. That will have the effect of exacerbating the interest rate differentials between the eurozone core and periphery, potentially making things worse. It would be reasonable to interpret this as indicating that the SNB believes that there's a good chance that eurozone is going to lose the periphery countries.

Alternatively, the SNB could decide to place a bet on the survival of the eurozone, or at least on continued Spanish and Italian inclusion. If so, then it could help to make that positive outcome happen by using some of its growing stash of euros to buy Spanish and Italian government bonds. Not only would this directly help to narrow interest rate spreads between the core and periphery, but it would be interpreted by the markets as a major vote of confidence.