No more Swiss Franc minimum exchange rate

In a surprise announcement, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) discontinued the 3-year-old minimum exchange rate of the Swiss franc and lowered interest rate to -0.75%. Such exchange rate had been introduced during “high level of uncertainty on the financial markets” which now seems irrelevant given the “divergences between the monetary policies of the major currency areas” and the “considerable depreciation” of the euro against the US dollar (EUR/USD). The SNB’s decision stunned the markets especially in Switzerland and Europe, adding to the pervading instability and fueling the bearish trend of the EUR/USD, at least short term. In the meantime, the volatility spilled over the oil market where intraday variations have been exceptional. The SNB is likely to purchase European debt with its reserves in euros, analysts said. All this also substantiates the assumption of strong announcements by the ECB soon towards an eagerly expected Quantitative Easing (QE) whose volumes remain unknown though the consensus is banking on between 500 and 600 billion euros. In brief, the SNB is anticipating such a QE and is defending its franc.