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Battle of Britain Redux

By Benjamin Shepherd on June 22, 2016

The possibility of a “Brexit” has been looming over the global markets for months, and now the big day is nearly here. While the betting markets are favoring Britain choosing to remain in the E.U., and initial polls showed “Stay” would likely win by at least a narrow margin, opinion has been shifting. More recent polls of the record 46.5 million people who have registered to vote in Thursday’s referendum show them split right down the middle, with the issue too close to call.

Emotions on both sides have also become incredibly heated, with a recent two-hour televised debate involving leading politicos, a mock naval battle on the Thames and speculation that it might have played a role in the assassination of Labor MP Jo Cox last week.

Britons will begin voting at 7 a.m. local time tomorrow (2 a.m. EST) with the polls closing at 10 p.m. (5 p.m. EST). It’s illegal in Britain to publish the results of exit polls before voting finishes, so we won’t likely have any real indication of how voting is going until about 11:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. EST).

We’ll be watching the voting closely and will keep you updated once we begin getting results. As I write this on Wednesday morning, our own markets are up as American traders seem to be cautiously optimistic that “Stay” will carry the day. The European markets are also up, with only Asia in the red.

While the markets are pretty sedate today, I expect it will be a different story tomorrow. There’s no historical precedent for this type of event, so it’s tough to predict what exactly the fallout would be if Britain votes to leave the E.U. That said, in the event of a Brexit, it’s likely that the U.K. banks, the British pound and global stock markets generally won’t react well to the news.

If Britons vote to stay in the E.U., we look for a global relief rally that should send markets higher.

Overall, we expect our Global Income Edge investments to hold up reasonably well since they are all multinationals and not entirely dependent on the U.K. or even Europe for their revenue. And if the Brexit does happen, given all the unknowable’s, there isn’t likely to be a “safe” corner of the market, as the volatility will certainly go global. In her Congressional testimony on Monday, our own Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen called out the Brexit as an economic risk to the U.S., so there would certainly be ripple effects.

For now, the best thing we can do is stay the course—none of our recommendations have changed because of the upcoming vote. You can rest assured that we’re going to be watching the results closely and you’ll want to keep an eye on your email as we expect to be sending periodic updates on how things are going. We’ll also send email alerts if the situation does warrant any changes to our buy advice.


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