The biggest policy decision of the year? The first U.S. interest rate rise may trump it whenever it comes and the Swiss National Bank has set the bar pretty high but an awful lot hangs on what the European Central Bank comes up with today.
Volatility is back with a bang.
The Swiss franc leapt by an unprecedented 40 percent at one point after the Swiss National Bank scrapped its currency cap out of the blue. Oil may have bounced but it’s still down the thick end of 60 percent since mid-2014, dragging the rouble and other oil-producer currencies with it. Copper, generally a barometer of world industrial demand, is barely finding its feet after plunging this week.
Russian troops seized two Ukrainian naval bases, including a headquarters in Sevastopol where they raised their flag. Moscow, continuing to insist it does not control the unbadged militia in Crimea, called for a detained Ukrainian navy commander to be freed, which has now happened. Make of that what you will.
The Slovenian government is poised to publish the results of an external audit of its banks, which will say how much cash the government must inject to keep them afloat. We’ve heard from sources that the euro zone member needs as much as 5 billion euros to recapitalize largely state-owned banks.
Amid the storm of Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, investors have found a safe harbor in the Swiss franc. Attracted by its low levels of inflation and stable debt-to-GDP ratio, traders have pushed Switzerland’s currency up 15 percent against the euro in 2010 and 6 percent so far this year. This has been a boon to the Swiss government’s ability to finance its operations — Switzerland’s 10-year benchmark bond is currently yielding just 1.53% — as well as Swiss tourists, who are enjoying huge discounts on trips abroad thanks to their favorable exchange rate.