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In the film adaptation of The Third Man, conman Harry Lime, played by Orson Welles, famously sneers that while Italy’s perpetual tumults gestated the Renaissance, Switzerland’s centuries of stolid stability bequeathed the world little except the cuckoo clock. A smart response would have been to enquire in which of the two countries Lime would rather bank his salary.

Switzerland’s franc, in keeping with the characteristics stereotypically ascribed to its country, has never put itself ostentatiously about. The franc has none of the cultural cachet…



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