Swiss Parliament to Discuss Gold Franc

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"The fringe initiative will likely trigger debate on gold's role."

MarketWatch, Agnese Smith

The Swiss Parliament is expected later this year to discuss the creation of a gold franc—a parallel currency to the official Swiss franc, with the fringe initiative likely triggering a broader debate about the role of the precious metal in the Alpine nation.

The initiative is part of "Healthy Currency," a campaign sponsored by politicians from the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP)—the country's biggest—that is seeking to capitalize on popular fears about global financial turmoil and inflation to reverse the government's current policy on gold.

"I can imagine that this will spark some sort of debate about gold and there may be some pressure to accept the parallel currency," said Dr. Gebhard Kirchgaessner, an economics professor at St. Gallen University. "But it won't have any real effect on the economy. It seems incredible to imagine that there are people out there willing to buy millions of these things."

Switzerland, which in 2000 became one of the last countries to decouple its currency from gold, is not the only place to contemplate a change in the precious metal's role amid controversy over government involvement in the economy. In March, Utah became the first state in the U.S. to legalize gold and silver coins as currency, while similar legislation was considered in Montana, Missouri, Colorado, Idaho and Indiana.

"I want Swiss people to have the freedom to choose a completely different currency," said Thomas Jacob, the man behind the gold franc concept. "Today's monetary system is all backed by debt—all backed by nothing—and I want people to realize this."

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