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How does this work? How does it lead to the purchase of assets but not stoke retail?
So the probability that it's ever going to go anywhere other than a mattress is negligible. And money cannot create inflation if you're using it as mattress filling - you have to spend it in order to have any influence on prices.
Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.
Then when the hot money decides to leave Switzerland, the Swiss Central Bank might find itself in a pinch with stronger downward pressure on the Swiss Franc than it can allow, and without the Euro reserves to contain the pressure.
So it's complicated. But the simplistic view that all this new Swiss money must translate into a proportional increase of prices in Switzerland is not warranted.
In any case, it might be that the very fact of the Swiss Central Bank announcing its policy and giving a 20-sigma kick to the exchange rate to prove the point has discouraged people from attempting to buy Swiss Francs, and so the Swiss Central Bank will find it much much cheaper to enforce the exchange rate ceiling than one would otherwise expect.
Economics is politics by other means
But (a) it is unlikely to happen in any great volume - buying real houses involves not insubstantial transaction costs. It is much cheaper to buy bonds of various sorts, which does not do anything for the Swiss nonfinancial private sector that the SNB would not have to be willing to do in order to defend its interest rate target. And (b) as of Google's last update, the CHF/ exchange rate is at 121, which indicates that the CHF is still under upwards pressure. Which in turn means that leakage from increasing imports of the sort you describe must be relatively minor.
Currency speculation is a business and like any business the business stays in the business it is in. Nobody expects MicroSoft to take it's billions o' bucks Cash Reserve and buy coal mines in the Ruhr but idiots some people think Deutsche Bank will get into the Real Estate Management business?
She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
( in exchange for the D-Mark and dollars the SNB bought with the CHF. Is the SNB really buying D-Marks already?....)
That's what I thought as well. But Updstate NY is asking about the reference to it being used to buy assets, not for inflating mattresses. If they do buy Swiss houses, it could drive up housing prices and eventually other costs.
In principle, yes, but (a) as noted above it is more likely that the hot money will buy bonds, which does not change the de facto money supply as long as those bonds are eligible collateral for rediscount with the SNB. And (b) higher-order effects like the ones you describe take time to happen, and this is hot money - it's not gonna stay that long.
Is the SNB really buying D-Marks already?....)
Yes. It's buying French and German government bonds, which de facto means that it's buying Franc and D-Mark, since that's what those bonds will be denominated in if the -zone goes tits-up.
Which means that what they should be doing is make sure they have enough reserves to handle the long positions coming unwound, even if this may depress the exchange rate below their target.
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