NIGEL FARAGE, the leader of the UK Independence Party, told elated supporters that June 23rd should go down as Britain’s Independence Day. The reaction in financial markets to Britain’s vote to leave the European Union was rather less euphoric. During the Asian trading day, the pound plunged against the dollar by over 10% to $1.32, a 30-year low. It fell far harder against the yen, a frequent bolthole for the anxious. Investors have started to flock to the safety of US Treasuries. As Europe’s markets opened, the main stock indices followed the lead set overnight in Asia and fell by around 10%.

Investors hate uncertainty and the result of the referendum gives rise to a surfeit of it. But the falls in Asia’s equity markets are also in large part an early judgment about the impact on the world economy. Of course, markets often overreact. Britain accounts for just 3.9% of the world’s output; it is not big enough to make the global economic weather in the way America or China can. Then again, America’s economy has been sluggish of late and there are grave worries about China’s ability to escape the shadow of its mountainous debts....Continue reading