In recent years, however, as the Swiss government has sought to hitch its wagon to the flailing euro currency and kowtow increasingly to U.S.-based financial requirements, this faith has been shaken. But this week (November 30th) a referendum in Switzerland on whether its central bank will be required to hold at least 20% of its reserves in gold, will offer ordinary Swiss citizens a rare opportunity to reclaim their country's strong economic heritage. It's a vote that few outside Switzerland are following, but the outcome could make an enormous impact on the global economy.
Traditionally, the Swiss franc had always attracted international investors looking for a long-term store of value. That's because the Swiss government had always kept sacred the idea of conservative central banking and fiscal balance. When the idea of the European common currency was first proposed, the Swiss were wise to stay out. They did not want to exchange the franc for an unknown and untried pan-national currency. The creators of the euro had suggested that it would become the heir to the strong Deutsche mark. Instead, it has become the step-child of the troubled Italian lira and the Greek drachma. In retrospect, the Swiss were wise to take no part in the experiment.