SHOCK, followed by frantic recalculation. That was how astonished financial markets reacted to the British vote to leave the European Union.

The initial phase saw a worldwide sell-off in riskier assets, such as equities, and a flight to safe ones, prompting further declines in government-bond yields. After the sell-off, equities started to bounce again on June 28th, in part because central banks may respond with easier monetary policy (or, in the case of the Federal Reserve, slower tightening); in part because Brexit may not have much of an impact on, say, the Chinese economy.

The biggest casualty of the vote was sterling, which was edging towards $1.50 on Thursday but on June 27th briefly dropped below $1.32, a 31-year low. In trade-weighted terms, the pound has fallen by 11% this year (see chart). Britain has a large current-account deficit (7% of GDP in the fourth quarter of 2015), which needs financing. A big drop in the pound, to make British assets more appealing to foreign investors and imports less appealing to Britons, is a necessary adjustment.

Equities have not suffered as much. Many companies in London’s...Continue reading