Between early June and early July there was almost no net change in the value of the Swiss franc against the euro. The euro spent almost the entire month somewhere between SFr 1.22 and SFr 1.24. At the beginning and end of the period it was close to SFr 1.24. The euro’s performance against the British pound was at least as erratic but there, too, the range was hardly wider than the two cents that separate €1.16 from €1.18. Over the month, however, sterling drifted from the top to the bottom of that range. The net result for sterling/Swiss was a two-cent decline.In the last six months the pound has fallen by just over three quarters of a Swiss cent, about 0.5%. In the same six months it has fallen by half a euro cent, also about 0.5%. (The exact proportions are 0.6% and 0.4%.) A relaxation of the political and financial tensions in Euroland has led to a similar relaxation of the upward pressure on the franc but in broad-brush terms the value of GBP/CHF is still decided, for the most part, by the price of GBP/EUR.
Investors’ allegedly fading appetite for the franc has been well-documented in recent months but they still not to seem to need much of an excuse to come flocking back when Euroland develops a wobble. The most recent was the resignation of two ministers in the Lisbon coalition government. As the story went, the two had come to the painful realisation that austerity was not as popular among the Portuguese citizenry as it had been. And it never was particularly popular. News of the resignations sent Portugal’s borrowing costs a percentage point higher in next to no time. It also provided another reminder that, in the Byzantine politico-economic construct that is Euroland, the lack of a crisis today does not guarantee that one won’t turn up tomorrow.
So the Swiss franc lurks there in the background, waiting for the euro’s next wobble, and the Swiss National Bank stands ready to intervene to hold down its currency. Until the euro’s problems can be said with confidence to be behind it, that relationship is likely to continue. It might take a while.