Stop the world, the United Kingdom wants to get off.
Global free trade has had its Waterloo moment with U.K. voters’ decision to leave the European Union, said Greg Valliere, chief political strategist with Charlotte, N.C.-based Horizon Investments.
“Even Hillary Clinton, an architect of free-trade deals, now repudiates them,” wrote Valliere in commentary on Friday. “Victimization is all the rage, and the victims of free trade have the upper hand.”
Valliere went so far to call the vote a “death blow” to globalization, but said that voters in the U.K. were motivated more by fear than by mere issues of popular sovereignty or nationalism.
“Let’s not kid ourselves” about the decision, said Valliere: It was all about Islamophobia.
According to Valliere, the results show that fears of immigration and the Islamization of Europe overcame the benefits of remaining in the EU.
“Politicians are capitalizing on people’s fears, and those fears seem legitimate,” said Valliere.
Investors must consider who could be the next domino to fall in a divided Europe. Some fund managers, like Philippe Brugere-Trelat, co-portfolio manager of several of Franklin Templeton’s international mutual funds, believe the next states to consider leaving the EU will be Italy and Spain.
“You have two elections coming up in Spain and Italy already,” Brugere-Trelat says. “These countries are vulnerable because of their credit spreads and credit going up. The departure of the U.K. opens a Pandora’s box of who’s going to be next.”
Valliere disagreed, arguing that France could be the next country to reject European unity. “Let’s focus on the big one: France, reeling from terrorist threats, strikes, and a stagnant economy. A recent poll showed that 61 percent of the French people want out of the EU.”