Ministers urge patience over strong franc

The finance and economics ministers have dismissed calls for a government intervention to halt the ascent of the Swiss franc amid concern over massive job losses.

This content was published on January 16, 2011 minutes

Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf and Johann Schneider-Ammann said in separate interviews in several Sunday newspapers that they saw no need for urgent measures and pleaded for patience.

Widmer-Schlumpf was quoted as saying the Swiss National Bank had done what it could last year to prevent inflation and to prop up the economy. She ruled out pegging the franc to the euro currency. Both ministers stressed that the National Bank was independent in its policy.

Schneider-Ammann also hinted that the government might consider a new economic stimulus package.

For her part Widmer-Schlumpf said she would welcome the reintroduction of a gentlemen’s agreement to dissuade top banks from carrying out speculative currency transactions but warned of high expectations.

Representatives of the export-oriented Swiss engineering and machinery industry have warned the strong franc could result in up to 50,000 job losses.

The cabinet is expected to discuss the currency-related issues next Wednesday.

On Friday, the economics ministry invited representatives of the business community and trade unions to top-level talks amid concern over the high costs of the Swiss franc against the euro and the dollar and its damaging impact on the economy.

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