Polling ahead of yesterday’s Brexit referendum in the U.K. pointed to a slim victory for Remain proponents, including Prime Minister David Cameron. As a result, stocks gained steadily in the days leading up to the historic vote. How misleading those polls turned out to be as a majority of Britons cast their votes in favor of leaving the EU. This is a bona fide historic event but it is not a cause for panic and should not alter the basic calculus for the vast majority of individual investors.
Not surprisingly, global equity markets sold off by as much as 8%, the British pound plummeted, the euro fell and the price of gold jumped to a two-year high. Morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange is much tamer than elsewhere with the major stock indices moving down by 2.0-2.5%, on average. Fixed income markets are moving decidedly higher.
In the short-term, MCM portfolio managers are busy sorting through the carnage hunting for mispriced assets that can be bought at attractive discounts and/or sold for outsized profits. Our objective to maximize investment rate-of-return in client portfolios remains unaffected by the events in Europe.
Longer-term, all eyes will be on other EU countries and whether or not they follow Britain’s example and stage referendums of their own. Italy, Spain and Greece immediately come to mind. A total collapse of the EU is not out of the question. The only sure thing is that capital market volatility will be with us a good while longer.