Brexit referendum: Analysts see hard times ahead for Britain's economy

A pedestrian walks past a monitor displaying the Tokyo stock index in Tokyo, Japan on June 24, 2016.
A pedestrian walks past a monitor displaying the Tokyo stock index in Tokyo, Japan on June 24, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

SINGAPORE - Now that Britain has officially voted to leave the European Union, economists and analysts have begun giving their takes on what they expect will happen next.

Most of them are not predicting a very good outcome for the British economy.

Here are some of their thoughts:

Mr Rick Lacaille, global chief investment officer at State Street Global Advisors

While the vote to leave has immediate market implications, over the longer-term observers will be wary of the impact the vote has on other nationalist and protectionist movements - both in Europe and elsewhere… There is the potential for knock on consequences for market-moving issues like trade, labour mobility and foreign investment. How the EU strikes a balance between facilitating a swift UK exit to reduce risk as quickly as possible, and discouraging similar movements in other countries, will be important."

 

Mr Lim Say Boon, chief investment officer at DBS Bank

Risk asset markets were already staring at darkened skies in early June, as a result of higher prices amidst deteriorating economic and earnings fundamentals. Britain's decision to leave the European Union will turn this into a perfect storm.

Equities and risk assets were already facing selling pressures by the start of June. Price gains in stocks around the world from mid-February were unsustainable given a slowing world economy, falling corporate earnings, and a deep malaise in global monetary policy.

Mr Duncan Innes-Ker, regional director for Asia at the Economist Intelligence Unit

The (British) economy has been plunged into uncertainty and we expect households to respond by reining in their spending, while businesses defer investment and hiring decisions. Financial conditions more generally will tighten, with bond yields and lending rates increasing to reflect the additional risk premium associated with British borrowers.

This is likely to mean a slump in domestic demand and a contraction in real gross domestic product next year. We expect this economic pain to be coupled with political instability, as significant doubts emerge about government cohesion. The impact will be serious, and prolonged.

With regards to Asia, investments into Britain will be severely affected because international investors will be deterred by uncertainty about the practical implications of the Leave vote. Although the outcome of the Brexit vote will unsettle the economic outlook for the EU, the direct trade effects for Asia's economies will be relatively limited, with the impact unlikely to move the needle.

Brexit will still cause problems for countries in Asia, however, with the channel of contagion most likely to be through financial markets and exchange rates. By nudging global financial markets back towards a "risk-off" setting, Brexit will damage confidence in Asia's emerging markets. Countries reliant on global investment capital will suffer as a result.

Mr Richard Jerram, chief economist at Bank of Singapore

Britain seems likely to head into a short-term recession as a result of the drop in investment due to loss of access to the European single market as well as the uncertainty surrounding the process of exit.

We should assume that the EU will make the negotiations as difficult as possible, so that other members are discouraged from following suit. The housing market seems likely to suffer as London loses some of its attractiveness as an international city.

In the medium-term Britain will benefit from the more competitive exchange rate.

Mr Markus Schomer, chief economist at PineBridge Investments

First, we expect markets to be hit with an immediate volatility shock. Markets have never dealt with an event like this before, so analysts have no framework to evaluate it. Moreover, most investors were positioned for the opposite outcome: that the Remain camp would win. So the shock will be global, similar to the way the localised Chinese equity crash last year quickly spread around the world.

Second, there will be no immediate change in the relationship between Britain and the EU. It will be the start of a two-year negotiation period to reach a deal for Britain to leave its current institutional arrangement. British businesses will continue to have access to EU markets, and EU citizens will continue to be able to travel, live, and work in Britain. No foreign investor will move out of Britain immediately. We could, however, see are some early announcements of cancelled future investment projects.

Third is the risk of EU referendum contagion. Since British voters got an opportunity to decide whether an "ever-closer union" is what they want, others may demand a similar vote. Referendum movements could spring up in countries like the Netherlands, Finland, or Denmark - all of which have growing Eurosceptic populations. Even France and Italy are not immune to EU and euro zone membership challenges.

In any case, Brexit threatens to undermine the EU and the euro in a much larger way than merely through the questions of Britain's continued EU membership.