More than three years of stability between the euro and Swiss franc just ended suddenly, as the Swiss central bank abandoned attempts to cap the currency's value.
The bank previously aimed to let the franc rise no higher than 1.20 to the euro (about €0.83 to each franc). As soon as the change was announced, it smashed immediately higher, breaking through the previous "ceiling". It broke through a 1:1 exchange rate, surging above €1.10.
Here's the euro plunging against the franc, down by nearly 28% as the news broke, an astonishing move for a currency:
Moves like these occasionally come from countries like Russia, where a drop in a commodity they produce tanks, but they're almost unheard of in the major advanced economies. As of 1:00 p.m. GMT (8:00 a.m. ET), the euro is down by more like 14.6%, to just 1.026 Swiss francs.
Switzerland brought the currency cap in 2011, to put a halt to the constant appreciation of its currency. The franc is seen as a particularly strong and safe currency, and saw huge inflows during the worst years of the euro crisis.
This is likely to have a big impact on a lot of Europeans: For example, if you've got a mortgage denominated in Swiss francs, but you get paid in euros, it just got a lot more expensive. On the other hand, if you're getting paid in Swiss francs, that holiday to Italy suddenly looks a lot cheaper.
It looks like the exchange rate is now stabilizing a bit, after some extreme volatility:
For the rest of the story: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-swiss-franc-is-rocketing-upwards-2015-1