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International currency traders and hedge fund managers have bugger-all interest in buying stuff in Switzerland. There's nothing Switzerland produces they want or need. They do care about this, but not all that much.
International currency traders and hedge fund managers do not have to own CHF to play their little mathematical game - and it is a Game. All they have to do is have exposure to options:
CurrencyShares Swiss Franc Fund (NYSEArca:FXF): Option volume 579 percent above average. Activity surged in the August 126 puts and the September 126 puts. FXF fell 4.43 percent to $130.02.
or futures or financial instruments exposed to the CHF, e.g., Hungarian or Polish CMOs.
Hell, a large trading company, making billions of CHF trades a hour, can "make" millions of CHFs, per year, by extending the mantissa on their trades a couple of decimal points to the right.
Or they can lie. If Goldman Sachs is telling you they want to make a small trade of 50 million CHF how the hell do you know if they DO have it sitting in their coffers? A desk trader doesn't have time to waste double checking their Cash Balance¹, if it is in his advantage to make the trade, he will. All GS has to do is come-up with the cash, or pretend to, in a Financially Acceptable Kind of Way - which is, at the bottom, a Financial calculation! - at settlement.
Nobody knows the actual monetary value of Forex trading done in a day. Firms who do this estimated in 2007 it's in the neighborhood of $4 trillion (US) a day, or about one year of US GDP every four days, and it is certain the volume has increase over the last four years. In the Forex market traders go about "buying France" in the morning, "selling Greece" in the afternoon to offset the trade is all in a day's work. Thus, the affects and effects of their trades in the CHF on the Swiss economy is of only idle interest - if the trader can have any interest at all since a goodly portion of these trades are done by computers. (How much? Don't know.)
Since US regulators can't rein-in this trading the SNB sure as hell can't. The system is set-up so no national government can. The best any national government can do is light a match in a hurricane.
The only way to slow down this nonsense and erect a buffer against damage it causes is to change the damn system by creating a global clearing house that can exact a Tobin Tax on each and every trade and a transfer fee when moving from one currency to another.
¹ Which you can't know until the end of the trading day in the best of circumstances.
She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
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