There's a lot of proverbial financial blood in European streets—does that mean it's time to buy?
The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union shocked markets and left observers wondering what Europe’s future will be. Many asset managers were braced for the “Brexit” vote, yet they were still surprised by it since it countered the predictions of oddsmakers and pollsters and exit polls suggesting the U.K. would remain in the EU.
“The surprise is relative,” says Doug Cote, chief market strategist at Voya Investment Management. “It was not telegraphed as if it was a democratic vote. The consensus was that the status quo usually prevails in close popular votes—but we knew that there was always a possibility in a free election, with democratic forces being what they are, that the leave vote would win. That shouldn’t have been totally unforeseen.”
Yet many investors decided to wager on the oddsmakers’ predictions and ignore the close polling—generally the two sides were within a handful of percentage points of each other—and the large number of undecided voters moving into Thursday’s votes.
Philippe Brugere-Trelat, an executive vice president with Franklin Mutual Series, says that investors were more confident in the predictions because the oddsmakers had successfully called the outcomes on the referendum on Scotland’s independence and the most recent parliamentary election in the U.K.
“Investors decided to go with the bookmakers because their recent track record was better,” Brugere-Trelat says. “With the outcome, not only are they going to be hit financially, but their credibility has taken a hit.”
As a result, the markets have slumped over the past two trading days as investors have unwound their bad bets, says Chris Semenuk, a managing director with TIAA Global Asset Management.
“The market reaction is a righting by the people who were on the wrong side of the trade ahead of the vote,” Semenuk says. “In subsequent days and weeks, there will be a better reflection of what trends have been put into place.”
The prevailing opinion among asset managers contacted by Financial Advisor on Friday was that the market downturn will be temporary.
Cote rejected comments by some that the vote represents a major inflection point for equity markets.