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Wall Street Breakfast: Brexit Unleashes MKarket Mayhem

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Jun 24, 2016

A wave of carnage is sweeping through the global markets after Britain voted to leave the EU in a historic referendum. Sterling is plunging, world equities and government bonds yields are tumbling, crude is deep in the red while gold prices surge as the shockwaves hit every asset class and region. With all 382 U.K. areas reporting, the 'Leave' camp won 51.9% of vote vs. 'Remain's 48.1%. Voter



"It's scary," "I've never seen anything like it," "All hell is breaking loose," are common quotes being heard at trading desks across the globe, but what's happening in the political sphere? European leaders are holding crisis meetings, NATO has reaffirmed its relationship with Britain and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel called for a "conclave" to reaffirm EU commitments among the bloc's other 27 countries. But the biggest news is that...

David Cameron has resigned as U.K. Prime Minister in an emotional speech outside 10 Downing Street. "I do not think it would be right for me to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination," he said in a statement, promising to "steady the ship" over the coming months before stepping down in October. According to Ladbrokes, former London mayor and leading Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson is the favorite to succeed Cameron.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England is "monitoring developments closely" and is taking all necessary steps to secure monetary and financial stability. Trading could also be suspended, according to a warning from U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, but in the meantime, today's session is likely to be one of the busiest trading days of the year.

With sterling falling to its lowest level since September 1985, the Swiss National Bank has intervened in the currency market to stabilize the franc, while others question their own EU membership. Other central banks, such as Norges Bank, are also assessing their liquidity situation and have undertaken contingency planning.

So what's next after Brexit? Assuming the next British leader respects the democratic process (technically speaking, the referendum isn't legally binding), Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty will be invoked to begin the formal process for leaving the EU. That would start a series of negotiations for how to disentangle the U.K. from its many union structures, and could take up to 2 years (or more if both Britain and the European Council agree to extend the discussion period).

Finance officials from more than 40 founding countries of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will assemble in Beijing this weekend for the institution's first annual meeting. President Jin Liqun is expected to announce the AIIB's first batch of infrastructure projects and loans at the gathering, making use of its $100B in paid-in capital.

Just a week before about $2B in bond payments come due, Puerto Rico's governor has reiterated that the commonwealth will default on its general obligations even if he halted services on the island. Alejandro Garcia Padilla is currently in Washington lobbying for Congressional approval of a bill that would set up a framework for the commonwealth to restructure its $70B in debt.


Banking stocks across the globe are taking a serious beating post-Brexit. Much of the regulations that govern the financial services industry and allow for cross-border transactions are at the EU level, meaning regulatory changes will need to be negotiated and altered from their current financial infrastructure. Premarket movement: BCS -25%, RBS -24%, LYG -27%, HSBC -10%, DB -16%, UBS -10%, C -7.5%, BAC -7%, JPM -6%, WFC -5%, GS -5%, MS -5%.

Despite the historic U.K. vote, London Stock Exchange (OTCPK:LDNXF) and Deutsche Boerse (OTCPK:DBOEY) are vowing to press ahead with their $30B merger. The exchanges said the outcome of the referendum did not change the strategic rationale of the combination, and they would continue to seek regulatory approval for it.

Tremors from Brazil's biggest bankruptcy filing are extending far beyond the recession-hit country's borders. Oi (NYSE:OIBR) is seeking creditor protection on over $150M of accounts payable to international providers from Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) to IBM and Alcatel-Lucent. The fixed-line carrier also owes about $1B to foreign development banks in China, Finland, Canada and Germany.

Qualcomm is filing a lawsuit in Beijing against Meizu Technology, the first major test of a hard-won agreement with the government there to allow it to enforce its right to charge fees for the use of technology. According to Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), the smartphone maker is refusing to pay it licensing fees that 100 other Chinese companies have already accepted.

The EU and the U.S. have agreed to strengthen a transatlantic data transfer pact, including stricter rules for companies - like Google (GOOG, GOOGL) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) - that hold information on Europeans. The revised Privacy Shield agreement was sent for review by European member states overnight. They are expected to hold a vote in early July, at which point it will enter into force.

Germany's Henkel is buying The Sun Products Corp. from a fund of Vestar Capital Partners in a deal valued at about €3.2B including debt. The acquisition will add well-established laundry detergent and fabric conditioner brands to Henkel's (OTCPK:HENKY) portfolio and make it the No. 2 laundry care maker in North America behind Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG).

Seeking creative ways to get customers in the door, Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) is planning to add restaurants that serve beer and wine. The company appointed COO Jaime Carey yesterday to the head of a newly created restaurant group and discussed plans to open four new stores with eateries attached. The idea will build on Barnes & Noble's push into other non-book areas, such as toys, gifts and vinyl records.

Xerox has selected insider Jeff Jacobson to lead its core copier and printing business after the company split later this year, leaving the top job at its namesake business in familiar hands. Current CEO Ursula Burns is set to become chairman of the printer company, while Xerox's (NYSE:XRX) business processes firm will be held under "Conduent Inc.", which will be led by Ashok Vemuri.

A federal court's striking down of the government's designation of insurer MetLife (NYSE:MET) as "too-big-to-fail" could undermine efforts to head off another financial crisis, authors of the landmark Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law declared. In a brief filed with a federal appeals court, former Senator Chris Dodd and former Representative Barney Frank said the decision could make it difficult to prevent another "calamitous financial meltdown."

Jeep Grand Cherokee owners are hitting Fiat Chrysler (NYSE:FCAU) with a lawsuit over the design defect that is suspected in the death of Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin. The class-action complaint alleges the company "fraudulently concealed and failed to remedy a gear shifter design defect affecting 811K vehicles."

As autonomous vehicles edge closer to reality, new dilemmas are popping up, like the "trolley problem" and other unpleasant ethical puzzles. In a study published in Science, researchers found that people want the cars to be programmed to minimize casualties while on the road, but would choose a vehicle that would protect passengers first. Should legislation mandate that all self-driving cars share the same value of protecting the greatest good, even if that's not so good for a car's passengers.