Since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (EU), many questions have been raised about how Britain’s Exit (Brexit) may impact the United States, as well as the world. In the mortgage industry, the U.S. has already felt the effects of Brexit. In fact, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), mortgage rates for 30-year loans dropped to their lowest in more than three years following the referendum. While it may take at least two years before we will truly know Brexit’s impact, low interest rates, a stronger dollar and the U.S.’s and the EU’s data privacy agreement are topics that have made news headlines.
Continued Low Interest Rates
In a late June article, Time reported that due to problems abroad, The Federal Reserve has intentionally kept interest rates low. It is likely that as a result of the referendum, the Fed may keep interest rates low for a longer period of time. While consumers may see this as a benefit, Time highlights the Bank of International Settlements’ (BIS) annual report for explaining how low interest rates are endangering global growth, decreasing productivity and increasing debt. In the report, BIS said, “exceptionally accommodative [monetary] policies in place are reaching their limits. The balance between benefits and costs has been deteriorating.”
Tougher Data Privacy Regulations in Europe
According to The Washington Post, prior to the referendum, the U.S. and the EU were discussing adjustments to the data privacy agreement. This agreement governs the flow of data between the U.S. and Europe. As noted in the article, while the U.K. will continue to follow the guidelines within the current agreement, the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office advised that Britain will not be affected by future reforms surrounding data protection. For technology firms in the U.S., Britain and elsewhere, this could have a huge impact.
Fortune reported that Britain was one of the European countries that had a relaxed approach to data privacy. However, with its exit, this will enable more strict countries, such as Germany and France that are known for their fight against Google, to have more of a say so in future regulations. In turn, as mentioned in Time, this could limit the amount of data technology firms can access about EU citizens. For financial technology providers that have an interest in expanding to Europe and have developed technology platforms that rely on sharing data, this could limit the way these platforms function abroad.
Negative Impact on Exports
In terms of trade, CNN Money reported Brexit could increase the strength of the dollar, which in turn can hurt U.S. trade. In the article, Matt Lloyd, chief investment strategist at Advisors Asset Management, said, "The biggest impact economically is the dollar impact. If the dollar surges on [Brexit] for any period of time, then you're going to see fears of the profits recession lasting longer."
CNN Money also reported that following the referendum, the dollar was up 6.3 percent above the British pound. To businesses outside the U.S., this can make products more expensive and less attractive. The publication notes that this could lead to further job losses in a sector that lost a net total of 39,000 jobs last year due to the strength of the dollar. If other countries reduce their purchase of U.S. products, we could potentially see job losses across the board.
While Britain is not the first country to leave the European Union, its exit can potentially have a global impact. From the free flow of consumer data to global trade, many industries and countries are watching to see how Britain’s exit will unfold. Given that Britain’s full exit from the EU may take years, understanding how it may change the way we do business in the future is key.