It’s just a couple of hours since we learned about the vote of the British people. Twelve hours ago, at around 4 AM, I listened to the BBC and heard that Leave was in the lead, a lead that solidified at approximately 4:40 AM. Already, it seems clear that there are way more losers than winners.
Frankfurt, Dublin and Paris are clearly among the winners of Thursday’s Brexit-vote. All three of them hope to benefit from the potential loss of passporting rights for banks based in the UK with which they were able to trade seamlessly in Continental Europe before. Part of the trades that went through the City of London might now be routed through another financial centre. Several ten thousand bankers will leave London and relocate to Frankfurt, Dublin or Paris. According to what banks said before the referendum, French institutes prefer Paris whereas American banks plan to opt for Dublin. German banks will move some of their operations to Frankfurt.
Frankfurt is not the only German city to benefit from the result. Berlin, the German capital, might rise out of London’s shadow and become a much more attractive location for European tech-firms. Not only are rents cheaper, also the overall cost of living is lower. Add to that that start-ups in Berlin will be able to continue hiring workers from all over the UK thanks to the freedom of labour movement. Should the UK revoke the European freedom of labour movement, London’s reputation as a tech-hub could take a significant hit. International investors might think twice before they put money into a British start-up.
Lawyers, tax experts and business consultants will also profit from the British exit-vote. It might take several years until the UK has successfully negotiated it’s exit from the EU which will lead to a period of continued uncertainty for firms in the UK but also in other countries. They thus need a lot of external advice which will keep lawyers and other service providers busy.
Bargain hunters will make some gains as well. Shares have weakened significantly, as has the Euro and the Pound Sterling. That provides buying opportunities for investors who are willing to take some risks. Also think of the gold price as a winner of the Brexit-vote. The precious metal has surged dramatically since the announcement earlier on Friday and is supposed to gain further, should there be political and economic disruption in the UK and in Continental Europe.
To mention some names, James Dyson, the legendary British inventor, as well as Lord Bamford (JCB) and Tim Martin, head of pub chain JD Wetherspoon, have all done quite well today. The three of them have been campaigning against the British EU-membership for years. For them, a dream has come true.
When we take a look at the losers of Thursday’s vote, the list becomes significantly longer. First and foremost, there is a German that might have to rethink his strategy: Carsten Kengeter, the head of the Deutsche Boerse in Frankfurt who was planning to merge with the London Stock Exchange Group (LSE). The headquarter of the new exchange was supposed to be in London which is now, after a vote for Brexit, put into serious question.
Another loser is the Pound Sterling. It has lost value, as has the Euro, the European currency. Not only does the overall British economy suffer but each and every Brit will be worse off thanks to the vote for Brexit. That’s not only because of the expected slowdown of the economy but also because of the weakening of the Pound Sterling against major international currencies such as the Dollar.
Somebody’s gain is somebody else’s loss, the saying goes. In the case of the Brexit-vote, London is obviously one of the big losers. The City of London, Europe’s leading financial hub, will shed between 70.000 and 100.000 jobs, PwC forecasts, and lose a share of the market to Continental European competitors. Add to that international companies that might relocate their European headquarters and you get an impression of why industry organisations such as the CBI think that the British economy could lose up to 950.000 jobs by 2020 thanks to a Brexit. The IMF and other international bodies have forecasted a British recession. That might affect the world economy – another loser – as well as the German economy.
For Germany, the Brexit-vote is a double-edged sword, precisely because of the chances of a recession in the UK. The country is a major trading partner for the German economy and auto manufacturers, machining companies and the chemical industry expect to make significantly less revenue in the UK. For the CEO’s of German subsidiaries in the UK, the Brexit-vote means that they will not get any new investments in the foreseeable future.
We aren’t finished yet. There are more losers around. One of them is the London housing market, so far an attractive safe haven for international investors and their money. According to some experts that I spoke to, this will change. London real estate will not be as hot as it used to. Don’t forget the FTSE. The British index is forecasted to shed another ten percent in the coming 12 months, UBS Wealth Management has stated.
Over time, there will be many losers, I guess. Let’s see whether I was right.