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Question 247  cross currency interest rate parity, no explanation

In the so called 'Swiss Loans Affair' of the 1980's, Australian banks offered loans denominated in Swiss Francs to Australian farmers at interest rates as low as 4% pa. This was far lower than interest rates on Australian Dollar loans which were above 10% due to very high inflation in Australia at the time.

In the late-1980's there was a large depreciation in the Australian Dollar. The Australian Dollar nearly halved in value against the Swiss Franc. Many Australian farmers went bankrupt since they couldn't afford the interest payments on the Swiss Franc loans because the Australian Dollar value of those payments nearly doubled. The farmers accused the banks of promoting Swiss Franc loans without making them aware of the risks.

What fundamental principal of finance did the Australian farmers (and the bankers) fail to understand?

Copyright © 2014 Keith Woodward