Much is being written regarding the impact of the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union and all the conclusions lead to uncertainty. It is the uncertainty equity markets do not handle well, thus, the sell off on Friday. One conclusion I believe is certain is the world will not come to an end and business will continue to be conducted between EU and non-EU countries. This is a wakeup call for the EU and its seemingly unending promulgation of rules and regulations that seem to favor some EU member countries over others. On paper the formation of the EU seemed like a good idea; however, a monetary union without a fiscal union has led to a lack of spending discipline by some countries. And, no real spending discipline is a symptom not only of EU countries, but with non-EU countries as well. The United States can be included in the 'no discipline' crowd too. Our firm will have more commentary on the Brexit outcome later.
The damage done to global equity markets on Friday is pretty clear. The Nikkei was down 7.9%, S&P 500 Index down 3.6%, the Dow down 3.4%, the French CAC Index down 8.0%, Spain's IBEX 35 Index down 12.35% and the UK's FTSE 100 Index was down 3.2%. The unknown is what additional weakness can be expected in global equity markets over the next weeks and months ahead. In earlier blog articles, I have noted past crisis events and their duration and time to recover. Below is a chart from a June 28, 2015 post.
Some of the crisis influenced market declines bottomed after one day while other declines took place over a longer period of time. The average decline in terms of days was six with an average return of -5.3%.
The sentiment technicals for the S&P 500 Index are indicating fear is elevated. Historically, when the fear measure like the VIX is elevated or the equity put/call ratio is above one, these levels have coincided with near market bottoms. The first chart below shows the CBOE Equity Put/Call ratio spiked above 1.0 on Friday.
The VIX futures went into backwardation on Friday as well. VIX backwardation refers to the situation when the near-term VIX futures are more expensive than longer-term 3-month VIX futures (VXV). This is an indication traders expect volatility in the future to be lower than it is now. Historically, when this occurs, short term market rallies tend to result from this technical event.
The other sentiment measure that is indicative of an oversold market is the ratio of the VIX to the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield. The low level of the denominator of this ratio, the 10-year Treasury yield, is indicative of a slow growth economic environment and investors' propensity for risk off assets; hence, driving the yield lower. The numerator, the VIX, is elevated thus, an indication of investors' fear of the equity markets.
An expected certainty in this Brexit inspired uncertainty is the fact the markets will continue to be volatile. Of importance is whether or not this event pushes Europe into a recession and drags the U.S. into one along with it. What makes this a heightened issue is the slow, bump along growth, of the U.S. economy and the slow economic growth globally. The added uncertainty is whether or not Brexit leads to additional EU countries taking steps like the UK's and then the ultimate breakup of the EU. The world is not coming to an end and this Brexit induced equity market pullback will likely provide investors with a buying opportunity in equities that have been unduly punished.
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