BRICS will create a bank to end hegemony of Europe and the U.S.

The bank will be the headquarters for trade in multiple currencies which do not include the dollar or the euro as references.

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | MARCH 27, 2013

The first day of the fifth annual summit of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) was dedicated to the bilateral relations of its members, and it served to meet the intent of the five members on Wednesday who issued a joint statement on the commissioning of a bank, which would serve as a counterweight to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The BRICS consider both institutions excessively controlled by Europe and the United States.

Issues such as decision-making or the contribution of each member are yet to be decided, which will likely prevent the release of the specific plans for the bank today, ahead of the meeting of Finance Ministers.

The creation of a joint fund of foreign exchange reserves will be another issue on the table, and the establishment of a self-study center and a business council of the BRICS.

Furthermore, the investments that BRICS make in Africa will be one of the key issues to be addressed at the summit today. “The association of the BRICS and Africa for the development, integration and industrialization” will be the slogan used to bring everyone together during the discussion.

The South African Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, stressed the importance of economic relations between the five and the mainland during his speech to businessmen from all members in the Business Forum of the BRICS.

“The African continent is recognized as the second fastest growing after Asia,” Davies recalled, citing the need for infrastructure as one of the attractions for investing in Africa at this time of economic crisis in Europe and the U.S..

A study by the Standard Bank, the BRICS trade with Africa rose last year to 340,000 million dollars, far exceeding the number of exchanges between the five economies of the group.

Moreover, the currency swap agreement reached by Brazil and China has a value of 30,000 million dollars, said the president of the Brazilian Central Bank, Alexandre Tombini, in the South African city of Durban. “The objective is to facilitate trade between the two countries regardless of international financial conditions,” said Tombini.

The agreement is valid for three years and protects trade between the two economies against dollar fluctuations and international financial turmoil.

The Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega told reporters that, along with their counterparts from the BRICS, he proposed to the presidents of their countries to create an agreement of the same type in a multilateral way among all partners.

In the intense round of bilateral meetings which marked the first day of the summit, South African President and summit host, Jacob Zuma, met with colleagues from China, Xi Jinping, Russia, Vladimir Putin, and Brazil, Dilma Rousseff. For his part, the president of Brazil did the same with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Rousseff meets today with the president of China, the largest trading partner of Brazil, according to Brazilian sources who are part of the  country’s delegation in South Africa.

Moreover, the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) today took an opportunity to urge the BRICS to stop the Syrian conflict and to require an “immediate cessation” of “indiscriminate” violence against civilians. In a statement, HRW called for India, Brazil and South Africa to “pressure” to Russia and China, which have good relations with Damascus to “suspend weapons sales and assisting the Syrian government.”

BRICS countries account for about 42 percent of the world’s population and nearly 45 percent of the labor force on the planet, according to the group’s own figures. In 2012, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa accounted for 21 percent of world’s GDP and trade between them reached a total of 282,000 million.

Swiss Central Bank Begins Manipulation of Franc

Bankers move against Franc to try to save Euro. Swiss economy to suffer due to artificial manipulation.

Associated Press
September 6, 2011

GENEVA (AP) — In what experts called a last-ditch “nuclear option,” the Swiss National Bank set a ceiling Tuesday on the value of its currency, which has skyrocketed as traders worldwide frantically search for a safe haven in volatile times.

Aiming to protect Swiss exports and the country’s vital tourism industry, the bank said it would spend whatever it takes to keep the Swiss franc from strengthening beyond 1.20 francs per euro. It also indicated it might take even more measures to weaken it further.

“The current massive overvaluation of the Swiss franc poses an acute threat to the Swiss and carries the risk of a deflationary development,” the bank said in a statement, announcing the goal of “a substantial and sustained weakening of the Swiss franc.”

The reaction in markets was immediate. The euro, which had been trading around 1.10 francs before the announcement, shot up to 1.2024 afterward. The dollar jumped from 0.7850 francs to 0.850 francs.

The Swiss stock market cheered the move, with the main index jumping 4.7 percent.

With the United States flirting with recession, many European nations mired in debt, and stock markets showing extreme volatility, international traders have poured money into Swiss money accounts, causing the franc to jump in value. The Swiss economy also fared better than most other nations in debt-saddled Europe, where the financial sector and governments are being forced to cut spending and pay for expensive bailouts.

Its status as a global safe haven for traders has seen the Swiss franc rally this year by as much as 40 percent against the dollar and 30 percent against the euro.

Tuesday’s move was the first time since 1978 that the Swiss authorities have limited the franc’s value in this way against another currency.

The SNB said it would “no longer tolerate” an exchange rate below the minimum of 1.20 francs per euro and would “enforce this minimum rate with the utmost determination and is prepared to buy foreign currency in unlimited quantities.”

But it said even the rate of 1.20 francs per euro was too strong for the franc and hoped it “should continue to weaken over time.” The central bank said it was prepared to take further measures to make that happen.

The Swiss business federation welcomed the SNB’s decision but indicated its members would like the franc to drop even further against the euro.

“It’s clear that a fair exchange rate would need to be lower,” board member Rudolf Minsch said. “We believe a fair rate to be between 1.30 and 1.40 francs, but this is a good compromise between what’s needed and what can be done.”

Jennifer McKeown, a European economist at London-based Capital Economics, called the decision “a bold move” even though 1.20 francs per euro is still relatively strong for the Swiss currency.

“With exports clearly at risk of slumping, the bank must have felt that it had no other choice,” she said in a note to investors.

Switzerland’s export-driven economy has long thrived on sales of foods like chocolate and cheese, as well as pharmaceuticals, watches, special machinery and tools. Its main trading partners are Germany, the United States, Italy and France.

The Swiss government says because of the soaring franc, it expects a slowdown in growth from 2.4 percent last year to 2.1 percent for 2011 and to 1.5 percent in 2012.

Overall exports rose 0.9 percent in the second quarter, helped by sales of chemicals and watches. But the government said exports of other items such as jewelry, precious metals, machinery and electronics were on the decline.

The last time the Swiss franc’s value was limited was 1978, when its exchange rate against the German mark was lowered. That was achieved at a huge cost, however, said Simon Derrick, a senior analyst at The Bank of New York Mellon.

Derrick said the SNB must now feel added pressure managing its cash reserves, after announcing in July a loss of 9.9 billion francs on its foreign exchange holdings for the first half of the year.

“By its promise to buy ‘unlimited quantities’ of foreign currencies it has effectively agreed to provide an artificially cheap exchange rate for anyone who wishes to seek a safe haven from the uncertainties of the eurozone,” he wrote.

The European Central Bank’s governing council issued a terse statement immediately after the announcement indicating they had no role in the Swiss currency move.

“The governing council takes note of this decision, which has been taken by the Swiss National Bank under its own responsibility,” the ECB said.