Iraqi Swiss dinar

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Iraqi Swiss dinar
ISO 4217 code IQD
Central bank Central Bank of Iraq
User(s) Iraq under Saddam Hussein
Banknotes dinars

The Swiss dinar was the Iraqi currency in circulation prior to the 1990 Gulf War. The reason for the adjective "Swiss" is unknown, but there are two possible explanations. The first is that the printing plates for the currency came from Switzerland, although the notes were actually printed in the United Kingdom. After the war, subject to economic sanctions authorised by United Nations resolutions, continued importing of the "Swiss" notes was prohibited, and the Central Bank of Iraq began domestic printing of a new Iraqi dinar. The second possible explanation is that prior to the Gulf War, Iraq was historically a low inflation country, similar to Switzerland.[1]

Inter-war period[edit]

After the Gulf War, the Iraqi government disendorsed the old currency, favoring newly printed Saddam dinars, and the Swiss dinar ceased to be legal tender. However, the old currency still circulated in the politically isolated Kurdish regions of Iraq. The government of the Kurdish region did not have the printing plates of the Swiss Dinar, but it also refused to accept lower-quality Saddam notes (which were issued in huge amounts). Since the supply of Saddam notes increased while the supply of Swiss dinar notes remained stagnant (even decreased because of torn notes), the Swiss dinar appreciated against the Saddam note. By having its own stable currency, the northern part of Iraq effectively evaded inflation, which ran rampant throughout the rest of the nation.[1]

Post war[edit]

Following the 2003 invasion the Coalition Provisional Authority, installed by the Coalition Forces, determined that Iraq needed a new, unified currency, but establishing a proper exchange rate was relatively difficult. The market exchange rate for Saddam to Swiss dinars remained around 100:1 from 1998 to January 2002, but as the invasion ensued, the Kurdish currency appreciated to 300:1, and subsequently fell to 250:1. After further investigation, the Coalition Provisional Authority determined that it would be best to equate the two currencies by Purchasing Power Parity, which was around 100:1. After researching further, the Coalition decided to adopt an official rate between the market rate and the PPP rate, officially pegging the currency at 150 Saddam dinars per Swiss dinar.

There were two proposed methods to unify the currencies. The first would be to print a new set of Swiss dinar notes and distribute them among the south. However, this would result in 80% of the population needing to exchange the Saddam notes for Swiss dinars. Since printing more Saddam notes was not politically favored, after consulting with a currency expert, the Coalition decided to alter the Swiss plates to the Saddam denominations. This would allow the least amount of currency exchange, but also take Saddam's photo off the currency. The new Swiss currency was created in a different color to differentiate from the old currency.

Reportedly, the exchange was relatively swift and without incident, with the exception of two failed attacks on currency convoys.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Foote, Christopher; et al., William; Crane, Keith; Gray, Simon (Summer 2004). "Economic Policy and Prospects in Iraq". The Journal of Economic Perspectives 18 (3): 47–70. doi:10.1257/0895330042162395.