Is a Brexit Really Happening Soon?

Move over, Grexit. That’s so 2010. We’ve got a new issue that could stir up the forex markets sooner or later and it’s called the Brexit. Three guesses on what this one’s short for…

Wait, what? Is Britain really exiting the European Union?

Heavens, no. Well, not yet, at least. But rumor has it that Governor Mark Carney and his gang of policymakers over at the Bank of England (BOE) are already researching on the financial implications if the U.K. votes to leave the European Union in the upcoming referendum.

As it turns out, this top secret mission had its cover blown when a confidential email regarding this proposal (dubbed Project Bookend) was accidentally sent to The Guardian, a U.K. news agency. What’s ironic is that the email actually contained instructions to keep the press and other BOE staff in the dark about the ongoing research. Good job, guys.

If anyone asks what BOE policymakers are busy with ahead of the referendum, they might simply give a vague answer about examining “a broad range of economic issues” or go spy mode and say “I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you.”

But why consider a Brexit? Does the U.K. have debt problems, too?

Unlike the Grexit which stemmed from Greece’s persistent inability to pay its debts, the U.K. isn’t really being forced out of the cool kids’ table. Quite the contrary, the British actually think that they’re too good to play with the rest of the kids in the EU. This is a lot like Scotland’s recent referendum to leave the U.K., with the pro-independence camp insisting that breaking free would be more beneficial for the country.

Those who are pushing for a Brexit say that leaving the EU would enable the government to save a lot of taxpayer money, lead to better immigration controls, and reduce the U.K. economic burden. On the other hand, those who oppose a Brexit maintain that exiting the region would spark more uncertainty for the U.K. and possibly result to a rise in joblessness.

One of the biggest concerns is its trade ties with the EU, as roughly 50% of U.K. goods exports go to EU nations, supported in part by the Free Trade Agreement in the region. Economists over at the London School of Economics Centre for Economic Performance projected that a Brexit would shave off between 6.3% to 9.5% of the U.K. GDP, assuming the worst case scenario that the U.K. isn’t able to negotiate favorable trade terms after the breakup.

Of course the U.K. has a pretty solid services sector all to its own, as its services comprising IT and accountancy ranks second to the U.S. in its share of global exports. Take that, EU!

So when are they deciding?

The referendum ain’t taking place until 2017, which means that the U.K. government and the BOE have plenty of time to mull about this decision. The folks over at Threadneedle Street probably wanted to keep this project under wraps for much longer but now that the word is out, it seems that talks of a Brexit could have an impact on the pound’s forex price action in the coming months.

Note that the Scottish referendum last year did cause quite a ruckus among pound pairs so y’all can imagine how much trouble a potential Brexit might cause, not just in the forex market, but across European equities as well. For now, there’s limited information available on this supposedly hush-hush Project Bookend but word through the grapevine is that the members of parliament and the general public are demanding more details. I’ll keep you posted once I get my hands on these!