The Swiss franc (CHF) has long been considered a stable currency in the global economy and is often purchased by investors when the stability of other foreign currencies is at risk due to adverse economic or political environments. The franc's stability is due to measures by the Swiss Central Bank to control the currency's value and Switzerland's political and financial stability.

Prior to January 2015, there was a minimum floor on the franc's value, which has since been removed. The floor supported an exchange rate between the euro and the Swiss franc of 1.20 CHF per euro. Since this floor was removed, the Swiss franc's value has dropped. The Swiss franc is an important currency in Europe; its strength, combined with low-interest rates offered by Swiss banks, has attracted investments and mortgages from people in other countries such as Poland and the Baltic nations.

Switzerland's policymakers have mandated several institutions to oversee the proper regulation of the country's financial markets, including the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FIMA) and the Swiss National Bank (SNB), which is responsible for carrying out the country's monetary policy.

On the national level, Switzerland has a high degree of transparency in reporting financial information, and it makes available to the public a wide range of data in several languages to support and attract foreign investment.

Key Takeaways

  • The Swiss franc has long been considered a stable currency in the global economy.
  • Switzerland's political and financial stability, its high degree of transparency in reporting financial information, and low bank interest rates have made it attractive for foreign investment.
  • Swiss francs reached its highest value in 2020, trading at 1 Swiss franc for $1.11 U.S. dollars.

Risks

In November 2015, SNB President Thomas Jordan stated that the Swiss franc was overvalued and that measures would be taken to intervene. The SNB's current monetary policy goals are aimed at achieving long-term results, but investors interested in the Swiss franc should consider how effective these measures might be in light of the failing economies in Europe, recessionary activity in Europe, and the current negative interest rates on deposits in Switzerland.

The effectiveness of a negative interest rate may be compromised when concurrently deployed with a weak European economy.

Still, investment in Swiss francs for those holding American dollars is particularly attractive because there has been low short-term volatility in the exchange rate between the dollar and the Swiss franc. From January 2020 to November 2020, one Swiss franc had an exchange rate between $1 and $1.11 in U.S. dollars. An investor looking to place funds into the Swiss franc should do so with an awareness of this enduring pattern of gradual volatility and low month-to-month volatility.

Rewards

Switzerland's interest rates reached an all-time low in January of 2015 at -0.75%, after being stuck at 0% for several years prior. According to economists polled by Reuters, the Swiss National Bank is "likely to keep its policy interest rate at -0.75% until the end of 2021."

Despite retaining its reputation as a safe haven of currencies, the future outlook of the Swiss franc remains uncertain. There is little dispute of the overall strength and power wielded in European markets by Swiss banks, but the falling exchange rate of the Swiss franc in conjunction with the country's negative interest rate offers curtailed enthusiasm for investors.

Recent moves to pour funds into the Swiss franc because of poor developments in other countries is a signal that investors are trading on negative fear of the future economy. Switzerland's economy depends in part on the rebound from former crises that have negatively affected global economies. Investors should not offer overly enthusiastic confidence in the Swiss franc before positive developments have hit the remainder of Europe.

The potential future reward for an investor exists in confidence in the SNB's current monetary policy to create an environment for long-term growth. Investors are waiting for overall improvement in European economies following low growth rates that have affected every nation in Europe due to the interdependent nature of Europe's economies.