The unintended consequences of NIRP.
The destruction of the dollar – so clearly visible against the Swiss Franc – took on a sudden virulent form in 1970. It has been going on just about all my life. And it’s still going on. When even the Swiss couldn’t handle it anymore, they too jumped into the currency war.
France might not even notice if the Eurozone fell apart—that’s how tangled up it is in the Jérôme Cahuzac fiasco that blew up with phenomenal effect. Former Presidents Chirac and Sarkozy were dogged by investigations and trials that laid bare misdeeds they personally had been involved in. By contrast, the Cahuzac fiasco doesn’t implicate President François Hollande. Not yet. But it’s tearing up his government.
The arm-wrestling between the US and Switzerland over funds that US citizens have stashed away in Swiss bank accounts has been going on for years. In Germany, a similar fight has broken out, albeit with more consideration for the rich. Other governments, desperate for moolah, are also going after their own with funds in Switzerland. Now it turns out the Swiss themselves, long praised for their tax compliance, also evade taxes. But it’s “officially silenced to death.”
Poor Angela Merkel. The beleaguered German Chancellor just can’t catch a break. She has already committed hundreds of billions of taxpayer euros to bailing out collapsing countries. In return, she wants them to live within their means and restructure their economies so that the bailouts wouldn’t have to continue ad inifinitum. For that, she joins the Axis of Evil. And then the Swiss Minister of Defense speaks up.
As developments in the Eurozone veered from bad to awful, with Greece on the brink and Spain getting closer, Switzerland, a speck with 7.9 million people surrounded by turmoil, is bracing itself, according to the President of the Swiss National Bank and long-time euro-skeptic Thomas Jordan, for the collapse of the euro. In the process, it’s creating a housing bubble with potentially horrendous consequences.
Two central bank governors in Europe have gotten into hot water recently: Philipp Hildebrand, as chairman of the Swiss National Bank; and Ewald Nowotny, governor of the Austrian National Bank and member of the ECB’s governing council. Hildebrand resigned after he tried to brush off an insider-trading scandal that is still making headlines; Nowotny is clinging to his jobs though he is tangled up in a bribery, kickback, and money-laundering scandal. But finally a major politician called for his resignation.
The Swiss government is preparing for a collapse of the euro while 27 heads of state convene for another EU summit in Brussels to find that elusive solution to the debt crisis. Goal: treaty changes that would impose Germany’s new religion of budgetary discipline on all 27 member states. But opposition has cropped up, and timing turns out to be impossible.
The run-up of the Swiss franc entailed a stock-market crash, gigantic hits to wealth invested overseas, and big losses in Swiss pension funds. Companies are reeling. Layoffs and a recession are next. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) flooded the market with francs, intervened in the currency markets, and forced real interest rates into negative territory. Without much success.