The Swiss National Bank Lost 60 Billion Francs In Today's Currency Chaos

Pile of swiss francsREUTERS/Denis BalibouseThat’s a lot of money.

The Swiss National Bank’s surprise policy change today produced one of the largest historical one-day exchange rate moves for any advanced economy.

The euro is down about 14.5% against the franc, falling as much as 30% immediately after the news broke.

It’s driven the value of country’s currency reserves down by 60 billion francs (€58.5 billion, or $US68.3 billion), according to Steven Englander at Citi.

Switzerland’s monetary base has surged since 2011. That’s just the money held by the SNB, people in Switzerland and commercial banks in the country. Since 2011, the SNB has effectively been creating a lot of Swiss francs and buying euros with them.

This is the action that held Switzerland’s currency so steady over that period, and it’s sent the monetary base surge:

The value of that has dropped, but it’s a bit of a moot point for them: they create the currency and made the decision, so they were undoubtedly expecting the loss.

Most analysts are expecting the euro to weaken even more, as the European Central Bank is looking extremely likely to start a quantitative easing programme either next week or in March.

The effort to hold the exchange rate against the euro steady was forcing changes with other currencies: The franc’s value dropped by about 14% against the dollar last year, and the SNB was getting worried about “divergences between the monetary policies of the major currency areas”.

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