In a few days, Brexit will come and go, and just a few days later it will be forgotten, as either outcome will be far less dramatic than has been widely predicted by the same fearmongering economist pundits who have been wrong about everything else for the past 8 years. Ironically, the better outcome for the market is precisely a Brexit as the panic selloff will prompt central banks around the globe to boost enough monetary stimulus to send risk assets to new all time highs.
What will remain, however, are the real problems.
Here is SocGen with a useful reminder of just what those are, and why the market may have already forgotten that just one week ago the Fed threw in the towel when addressing precisely these problems.
From SocGen's Andrew Lapthone:
Global equity markets continued to struggle last week, with the MSCI World index off 1.8% pushing the index back into red for the year. Big losses were seen in Japan with the Topix 500 down 6% and the volatile Mothers index crashing 18.5% over the week as the yen continued to strengthen. According to the BOE measure, the trade-weighted yen is now up more than 20% over the past year and back to where it stood three years ago. In the battle for the weakest currency, Japan looks to have thrown in the towel.
Whatever the outcome of the Brexit vote this week investors will still be facing the prospect of negative rates and negative yields on a huge range of bonds, massive corporate leverage with worryingly rising delinquencies and of course expensive equity markets and falling profits. To that extent these political events are a distraction from the main event, weak global economic growth and perverse asset markets. So whilst the market preference for the status quo might be celebrated in the short-term, actually when the fog clears all of the problems will still be there.
Let’s take the UK for example. The market will most probably rally as it is doing today if Brexit is rejected, but rally to where? We have already highlighted the excessive leverage and payout ratios in the UK, but these are not the only problems. On a disaggregated basis, median valuations are at the upper end of historical estimates (see below), profitability whether measured on an ROE, ROA or ROIC basis has rarely been this weak outside of an economic slump, and these figures do not materially change whether the problematic commodity and financial sectors are included or not. Brexit or not, the UK equity market hardly looks healthy.