World scrambles to prepare for collapse of the eurozone

Swiss central bank admits planning for end of single currency as pressure on member states builds

Policymakers and firms across Europe are making preparations to cope with a break-up of the single currency, with the president of the Swiss central bank yesterday becoming the latest senior figure to admit to contingency plans for a "collapse" of the eurozone.

"We must be prepared just in case the currency union collapses, although I don't expect that to happen," said Swiss National Bank boss Thomas Jordan. He added that his objective would be to prevent funds flooding into the safe haven of the Swiss franc, which could damage his country's export sector.

Switzerland has already taken an economic hit from appreciation of the Swiss franc over the past year. Last September, the SNB put a cap on the currency's value against the euro to protect exports.

Sterling has also appreciated considerably since the beginning of the year as market fears over the future of the single currency have increased. Bank of England Governor, Sir Mervyn King, said this month that the Bank was preparing contingency plans to cope with a potential major economic shock to the UK economy emanating from the eurozone.

Last week, the European Commission said that it has asked member states to make plans to deal with a potential Greek exit, ahead of a second round of Greek elections on 17 June.

It is not just eurozone officials who are making emergency preparations. The chief executive of Lloyd's of London, Richard Ward, yesterday said the insurance market was also developing contingency plans. "I don't think that if Greece exited the euro it would lead to the collapse of the eurozone, but what we need to do is prepare for that eventuality," Mr Ward told The Sunday Telegraph. "We would switch to multi-currency settlement if the Greeks abandoned the euro and started using the drachma again."

Last week, sources told Reuters news agency that French banks – the most exposed of Europe's banks to a Greek debt default – have stepped up contingency planning. At the end of December 2011, French lending to Greece was $44.4bn (£28.3bn), according to data from the Bank for International Settlements. Meanwhile, Spain will try to shore up confidence in its fragile banking sector this week. On Saturday, the president of Spain's fourth-largest lender, Bankia, said that it would be looking to sell off many of its overseas assets, including stakes in British Airways and Iberia, after it was effectively nationalised last week.

Market concern about the solvency of its banks has exacerbated fears about the solvency of Spain itself since its lenders have been the largest purchasers of Spanish sovereign debt since the turn of the year. Spanish banks are estimated to be holding 30 per cent of the country's debt. Many analysts fear Madrid could become the fourth eurozone state to require a rescue.

More political pressure in the single currency could materialise on Thursday when Ireland holds a referendum on whether or not to approve the new fiscal compact, which has been strongly pushed by Germany as the quid pro quo for its financing of bailouts for weaker member states.

The pact could still come into force if Ireland votes "no", since the ratification of only 12 eurozone countries is needed. But an Irish rejection would still intensify the political and economic turmoil in the single currency.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence