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Pass notes No 3,038: the Swiss franc

The Swiss government has suddenly devalued it. Time to buy a bargain cuckoo clock!

Age: 161.

Appearance: Like a lead balloon.

Looks more like a coin to me. It was a metaphor.

A metaphor for what? The sudden devaluation of the Swiss franc.

Oh no! What about the millions I embezzled out of Nigeria? You’ve never even been to Nigeria.

Ah yes. But what about the millions Hosni Mubarak allegedly embezzled out of Egypt? They are allegedly worth a bit less than they were on Monday morning.

Tell me everything. The Swiss government has announced it will buy an unlimited amount of foreign currency, in a bid to weaken the Swiss franc against the euro.

Did it work? Yes. Last month, the two currencies were worth nearly the same. But following the announcement, the Swiss franc fell by about 9%, making one euro worth around 1.2 Swiss francs.

And that’s a good thing? For the Swiss, yes. Their franc had become so strong that foreigners could no longer afford to import Swiss products – and for a country that usually sells more than half its products abroad, this was a serious problem. Even the Swiss themselves were starting to go to Germany for their weekly shop.

So now’s a great time to bulk-buy all those Swiss watches, cheeses and cuckoo clocks that I’ve been boycotting for the past few months? Better than a week ago, yes.

What’s not to like! Well, the effect on the eurozone.

Why? In simplistic terms, the more Swiss emmenthal people import, the less likely they are to buy French camembert.

Or Spanish manchego? Or Spanish manchego. Meaning other countries might in turn try to devalue their own currencies, sparking a currency war.

Wasn’t that one of the things that caused Black Monday in 1987? Yes. Yes it was.

Is there a silver lining? Sort of. You know all those fat-cat bankers?

The bastards with those massive bonuses? The very same. Their bonuses, often paid out in Swiss francs, are now worth a little bit less than they were.

Do say: “Get me 500 bars of Lindt. Now!”

Don’t say: “And? I don’t even like emmenthal.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds