SNB head says European stability key for franc

The Swiss franc should stay the national currency in future, but is dependent on a return to stability in Europe, says Swiss National Bank chairman Philipp Hildebrand.

This content was published on February 27, 2011 and agencies

The turmoil in the Middle East has pushed the franc up – it reached a record high against the dollar on February 24. But the question is how long this will last, said Hildebrand.

"I am convinced that an independent currency is possible in the long term if the environment is as focused on stability as in our case. It is crucial, also for us, that Europe returns to its culture of stability," the SNB boss told the Der Sonntag newspaper.

The Swiss franc rose strongly against the euro and the dollar last year, hitting Swiss exporters' margins. It is still trading at high levels as investors seek refuge in the safe-haven currency during these times of unrest.

This usually happens during uncertainty, said Hildebrand. "The question is how long this is going to last," he said. The strong franc has cushioned the effect of the rising oil price, he added.

Experts say the Swiss economy has weathered the downturn better many other European countries. The KOF Swiss Economic Institute on Friday released an indicator pointing to accelerating growth despite the strong Swiss franc.

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