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Brexit Could Slow U.S. Growth

By Richard Stavros on June 16, 2016

Polls show the June 23 Brexit vote uncomfortably close.  Investors (and even central bankers) should be worried that global growth will slow if the Brits choose to leave the Eurozone. And if Brexit happens, the biggest loser will be the United Kingdom, given it will have to renegotiate trade agreements the world over, potentially at a disadvantage. Some even predict that Brexit could push the United Kingdom into recession.

But the consequences of Brexit could also mean higher tariffs, trade wars and higher trade barriers that would make some products around the world more expensive. And this would cut into already weak global growth.    

The best investments in such uncertain time will continue to be companies whose products you know people will buy no matter the economic environment. As I’ve been saying, consumers will always first pay their heating bill, buy drugs for their ailments, and pay the telephone bill to call mom.   

Our Global Income Edge Conservative Portfolio has long depended on such companies, and incorporated an anti-deflationary focus.  And Brexit could magnify global deflationary trends. That’s why we have focused on large, multinational companies that have a competitive advantage and pricing power in industries such as electric utilities, telecom, healthcare and banking. 

And we do believe that fear selloffs, as are happening already, will push many stocks and yields on European bonds into negative territory. And this could provide buying opportunities for income-generating stocks.  So we expect to begin adding to our portfolio in the coming weeks.

Certainly Brexit has the Federal Reserve nervous. Yesterday, the Fed rightly chose to hold rates steady in part out of concern over the impact to the U.S. economy from a Brexit. The central bank held the target range for the federal funds rate at 0.25% to 0.5%, where it has been since the Fed lifted rates by a quarter point from near-zero levels in December.

Brexit is one example of a populist trend against international trade and globalization that is happening in the U.K., U.S. and other parts of the world.  Some politicians are increasingly arguing for economic isolationism, which suggests that further trade liberalization (such as that being pursued by the U.S. with Europe and China) may be halted if these views prevail. 

That’s a lot of variables, and if the Brits choose Brexit, we’ll have to wait months or even years for them all to play out. 

P.S. I am the chief investment strategist for Investing Daily’s Global Income Edge, and analyst for Utility Forecaster. For Global Income Edge we take a worldwide view of income stocks that combine the stability of developed countries with the growth of developing countries. Our goal is to recommend high-yielding, relatively safe stocks (including REITs) that provide superior yields to U.S. stocks alone. Feel free to use the Stock Talk feature beneath this article if you have any questions about it. Thank you.  

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