Switzerland: Referendum on prohibition of gold sales by SNB, storage only in CH, min. 20pct reserves

mike

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US won't attack them. They do have McDonald's over there (remember, "no two countries w/ McDonald's franchise operating in them ever went to a war with each other") ;)
And there's the small fact that every Swiss citizen is armed with an SG 550.
 

ancona

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It was my presumption, based of course upon limited knowledge and the trust that the person writing the article had straight facts, that all adult citizens were armed with a government issued weapon and ammunition, and they were required to be checked out on it each and every year.

Confirm please????
 

swissaustrian

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It was my presumption, based of course upon limited knowledge and the trust that the person writing the article had straight facts, that all adult citizens were armed with a government issued weapon and ammunition, and they were required to be checked out on it each and every year.

Confirm please????
It once was (nearly) that way during WWII and the height of the cold war. Back then, every household was armed by the gov and we had a mobilization plan for the whole population. We have also built the Swiss National Redoubt ( so called "Alp fortress" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Redoubt_(Switzerland) ), an extensive network of bunkers, airports, bases etc... in the Alps, which would have allowed us to evacuate the whole population to areas which are extremely difficult to conquer for any aggressor. Now, our army has shrunk significantly and only active duty and reserves are storing gov issued guns and ammo at home. Generally speaking, every Swiss man is obliged to serve in the army, but one can buy a waiver. So it's still a militia, but it's not a whole country under arms as it once was.
We just don't have the outside threats which would justify such military expenses. If we wanted to, we could build a nuclear weapon within weeks, so nobody is going to attack us anyway. Even terrorism is a non-issue, thanks to our non-interventionist foreign policy.
 

rblong2us

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I have a Swiss / German cousin who took his fathers car and abandoned it in Switzerland, out of fuel. when he opted out of the German army draft in approx 1966.

He then found himself a nice Swiss girl and got married. Further draft dodging ( now from the Swiss authorities ) took him and his Swiss wife to South Africa where he worked for the Petronas race team for several years.

Eventually he worked a deal with the Swiss Army and was allowed to play with their 4WD vehicles up in the mountains, officially testing and repairing them.
It was during this time ( 1976 ish ) that I got a glimpse of just how prepared the country was.

I recall one particular moment in cow bell country, when a flight of jet planes screamed low over us as we passed some soldiers, with their guns slung over their shoulders, on bicycles, while following a small convoy of army trucks. Yup, they were ready for anything and could house and feed the entire population in the mountain shelters, in the event of a nuclear attack.

Oh yeah, it was several years before my cousin was able to communicate with his father ..... it was the empty fuel tank that seemed to be the biggest issue (-:
 

swissaustrian

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Update:
Members of the committee have told me that we already have nearly 2/3 of the required signatures (100000). Looks like there will be a nationwide vote on the initiative next year or in 2014.

I've personally collected ~ 150 signatures. People from the whole political spectrum have been very open to the subject once they knew the facts about gold storage overseas (NY, London) and the stupidity of the gold sales by the SNB.
 

pmbug

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Luzi Stamm was first elected to the Swiss National Council, representing the FDP (Liberal Democrats), in 1989. In 2001, as a result of debates over possible European Union membership for Switzerland, Mr Stamm changed parties – establishing his new political home at the SVP (Swiss People's Party). During elections to the National Council in 2007 he was the second most voted for politician in his canton of Aargau, and was re-elected as National Councillor. Now Mr Stamm and three other members of the Swiss National Council have started a signature campaign aimed at repatriating the portion of official Swiss gold reserves that are held outside Switzerland. The "gold initiative" (its official name is "Save our Swiss Gold") is aiming to collect 100,000 signatures. This interview was originally published in German at wirtschaftsfacts.de.
...
In order to assert your claims, your gold initiative is planning to hold a national referendum. How many signatures do you still need to make this referendum a reality?

LS: Unfortunately, thus far we have only collected half of the signatures needed (50,000). We would very much welcome help in collecting more signatures.
...
More: http://www.goldmoney.com/gold-research/roman-baudzus/luzi-stamm-swiss-gold-initiative.html
 

swissaustrian

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Weird, as you can see above I was told in May that we already have 2/3 (66000) of the signatures. Maybe he's trying to recruit some more volunteers by understating the numbers?
 

pmbug

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Either way, the job isn't done yet. You don't stop running until after you cross the finish line.
 

swissaustrian

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I've been told that we now got roughly 75'000 of the 100'000 required signatures. We're on course to finish the collection of signatures early next year.
 

swissaustrian

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We got the 100000 signatures. The Swiss people are probably going to vote on the issue during the second half of the year. It would be a binding vote, ie the intiative has to be implemented unconditionally if accepted.

Article out of a Swiss news paper called 20 minutes, translated by bing. SVP means Swiss peoples party, comparable to mainline conservatives in the US. The SVP has a more liberatrian leaning wing, though. I am NOT a member:
Gold initiative to be voted on by the people
The [Swiss] National Bank should bring back all their gold reserves in the Switzerland and buy hundreds of tons of the precious metal - the [political] rights party SVPs latest initiative is hotly disputed.

The gold initiative from SVP circles has concluded collecting signatures: this was confirmed by Ulrich Schlüer, co-President of the initiative Committee, that more than one month prior to the deadline more than 100000 signatures have been collected. Thus the people can vote on the three demands of the Committee: firstly, the National Bank (SNB) must bring back all the gold stored in foreign countries, in the Switzerland. Secondly, she can sell in the future no ounce of the metal. And thirdly, the SNB must ensure that it has at least one-fifth of its assets are in gold.
Former member of parliament Schlüer explained it had been a big mistake, that the SNB has sold most of their gold in recent years. The now required reserves would serve to guarantee the stability of the franc - and to secure also the pensions and to prevent a "cold reduction of saleries [via inflation]". Investments in gold are safer than those in foreign currencies such as the euro, «which you don't know if it still exists in a year». The former Zurich banking Professor Hans Geiger, also SVP member, added: «the current monetary system is ill - gold, however, is a long-term safe value.»

Price of gold might fall

Here, the Fribourg Professor for Economics Reiner Eichenberger puts a big question mark. Currently, the price of gold is high, because in the face of the crisis in Europe, many people bought the value metal. But that could change quickly, the bubble could burst: «panic sales would fall rapidly the value of gold.» Also, the gold could be obtained easier from the ground - these amounts increase would also in the long term lead to a loss of wealth. And to a loss for the SNB.

Eichenberger criticized also the absolute ban on gold sales in the initiative. For the support of the Swiss franc, the SNB swelled their balance sheet by buying up euros to around 500 billion Swiss francs. In order to fulfil the initiative, at least 100 billion in gold should be on the balance sheet - about twice as much as there is today. If the National Bank were to shrink the balance sheet to 250 billion, for example, the proportion of gold would rise to 40 per cent - finds Eichenberger. However, this effect is very desired by the initiators: «The higher the price of gold, the SNB more credible can occur», says Ulrich Schlüer.

Two problematic variants [Note by SA: this is pure rubbish]

To achieve the 20 percent share of gold, there were two ways that might cause both problems. Either print fifty billion Swiss francs, the SNB and thus buys the gold. This measure increases the risk of inflation. Or it sells euros worth around for 50 billion francs to the market. As a result it would but weaken the euro and indirectly the franc strengthen – exactly the opposite of what the guardians of monetary policy want to.

The initiative meets skepticism accordingly with FDP [liberal democrat] economic policymaker Ruedi Noser.

«Had it been in place during the euro crisis, the euro/CHF exchange rate would have been down to 50 cent [instead of 1:1]», says Noser - which would mean the death knell for the Swiss export economy. «Switzerland navigates the Euro crisis well, in part thanks to the excellent monetary policy of the National Bank», emphasises the Zurich IT entrepreneur. «We must not restrict this freedom of action for the SNB ever.»

SVP leadership stands behind initiative

The SNB (Swiss National Bank) would not comment on the initiative this time. But it is an open secret that it would not support it. Ulrich Schlüer is still optimistic that he can bring also some representatives of the Center parties on board in addition to the previous allies of EDU (protestant democrats union) and Swiss Democrats.

There are no party grandees in the commitee of the initiative. But according to Mr Schlür, this is normal, if it is not an official initiative of the party. «I don't doubt for a moment that the party leadership will support us in the voting fight such as in ealier initiatives.»

Additional effort was necessary


To reach the barrier of 100 000 signatures, in recent weeks a special effort was necessary. The initiators have benefited from the fact that the SVP has currently no another referendum at the collection stage: thus, numerous sections of the party could go in January and February on signature hunt. In addition, unnamed donors :wave: have opened the casket and allowed the initiators to enclose the signature sheets to various print media.
http://www.microsofttranslator.com/.../SVP-Gold-Initiative-kommt-vors-Volk-20606238
 

bushi

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...it is good to read such a calming, level-headed explanation, like the above "investing in Euros is risky, you don't know if it will still exist in a year" - when we are faced with the paper market smack-down every other week. Apparently, there still are people with common sense around, even if it is not in my country. or my current country of residence politicians.

Thanks for that, SA! Must refresh my German, and check the IT jobs market in Switzerland :). Actually, it would be much closer to family, than Ireland is :)

(but speaking in German, my gosh, that would be so unpatriotic of me...)
 
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swissaustrian

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@bushi:
There are numbers of big transnational IT companies in Zürich which wouldn't require you to speak German at work. English is very much an established business language in this industry. Depending on what your specialty is, you'd probably find an IT job where you'd have to speak English only. If you'd have to interact with customers, the situation is obviously different...
 

bushi

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thanks for that, man... I wasn't that serious about moving - what with two kids, I don't know if I am adventurous enough to try it again! And I am not sure, if I would fit nicely into average citizen mold in Switzerland - it seems I am waaaaay too messy ;), I don't even hoover the pavement in front of my house (imagine ;))
 

pmbug

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Excellent news sa. So what is the process from here? When does the referendum occur?
 

swissaustrian

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So what is the process from here? When does the referendum occur?
Boring formalities aside, the Government will announce a date when the popular vote will take place. Such votes aren't anything special, they're occuring multiple times a year (3-4 times). Often more than one intiative is presented to voters. They can vote on each issue seperately. The gold initiative is likely to be voted on during the second half of the year or early 2014. Foul play by the government, ie delaying the vote or misleading voters is almost unheard of. This is the time schedule.
In terms of campaigning, the real work starts now. We achieved our goal of getting the required signatures. Now it's time to win over the support of the majority of voters. Due to the high frequency of votes on constitutional intiatives, only 1/3 to 2/5 of all voters actually participate. Most of their decision making is driven by their political leaders. That's why we have to win them over to create a tripple-down effect. If leader a of party b endorses intiative c, it's likely to win a large chunk of his constituency over, too. Our chances largely depend on financial firepower and clever marketing, both by us and our opponents. The financial establishment (UBS, CS, smaller banks, insurances like Zurich and Swiss Re), including even the SNB, could pull out all the stops to preserve the status quo. There is going to be one hell of a fight over this, for sure. I'm ready and committed.
 

bushi

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...do you think that small banks would be against it?? My understanding is, that current arrangements benefit mostly TBTFs, to the detriment of smaller, quite often robust and well-run banks? I mean, if TBTFs are deemed TBTF, there's perverse initiative, to award them your business - they are free to make riskier bets = free to benefit from higher spot on the risk/reward curve (possibly, giving you better offers because of that), and if things go sour, they WILL get bailed out, no matter what. I thought, that dynamic is in play already, and hurting smaller, more conservative (yet sound) banks.
 

swissaustrian

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...do you think that small banks would be against it?? My understanding is, that current arrangements benefit mostly TBTFs, to the detriment of smaller, quite often robust and well-run banks? I mean, if TBTFs are deemed TBTF, there's perverse initiative, to award them your business - they are free to make riskier bets = free to benefit from higher spot on the risk/reward curve (possibly, giving you better offers because of that), and if things go sour, they WILL get bailed out, no matter what. I thought, that dynamic is in play already, and hurting smaller, more conservative (yet sound) banks.
All banks are profiting from the current arrangement. I agree that the big ones are the most obvious beneficiaries, but banking is unsound at every level. The banks are pumping a domestic housing bubble right now over here, especially the smaller banks. The traditional conservative Swiss private bank is history (with very few exceptions). Just recently two of the last private banking partnerships with UNlimited liabilities of the partners morphed into corporations with limited liabilities of the shareholders: Lombard Odier and Pictet.
http://www.hubbis.com/articles.php?aid=1360269799
 
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