Will Brexit affect Americans? The decision by British voters to divorce Great Britain from the European Union has set off a chain reaction that has the potential to disrupt the global economy. Americans are rightly asking what the fallout will be here.
Among other questions, folks want to know how Brexit will affect the interest on credit cards and mortgages, on employment, and the balance of trade. With Britain being a major US trade partner, the ultimate question is: Will Brexit drive the U.S. into a recession or take American/British prosperity and cooperation to new heights?
The situation is fluid enough to make precise forecasts difficult. For example, a small but vocal contingent of Britons are pushing for a revote to reverse the democratic referendum. Then there is the issue of some Scottish and Northern Irish contingents pushing to maintain their relationships with the European Union bloc, just months after Scotts voted to remain a part of Great Britain knowing full well that a Brexit was probable.
Despite the swirling cross-currents following so closely after last week's vote, we at GET.com feel that a few predictions seem safe to make:
Fed rate hikes: If the Federal Reserve had been contemplating another boost to the Fed funds rate later this year, Brexit will cause a re-think that will likely delay rate hikes until 2017.The Fed funds rate is what banks charge each other for overnight loans.
The Fed raised the rate by one-quarter point last December, and speculation was high that at least one more hike would occur as early as July 26-27. However, the negative consequences of Brexit on the world's already tepid economy is likely to cut growth, and possibly launch a recession in Europe.
That creates an environment in which the Federal Reserve cannot safely raise its base interest rates, lest it cause the recession to spread to the U.S. Without another Fed funds rate hike, you can expect interest rates to stay stable or even go lower.
Strong dollar: The immediate reaction to the global chaos caused by Brexit was to strengthen the U.S. dollar against most foreign currencies. Whenever the world's economy enters a period of turmoil, investors buy quality assets like U.S. Treasury notes and bonds, which causes the dollar to appreciate.
A strong dollar hurts American exports because our goods and services become more expensive when purchased in local currencies. This has the potential to cut earnings and precipitate a recession.
But the good news is that foreign imports will likely become cheaper to U.S. consumers because you get a whole lot more for your dollars. Because the U.S: is one of the world's largest importers, the strong dollar might stimulate consumer spending.
Real estate: A stronger dollar will make it more expensive for foreign companies and individuals to buy residential and business property in the U.S. If America enters into a recession, mortgage rates may fall even further, which could lead to a refinancing boom. In other words, Americans will likely enjoy lower mortgage rates and have less foreign competition for prime properties. However, there is a chance that the uncertainty in Europe could dampen the global economy. In the unlikely event that this happens on a scale that would adversely affect the U.S economy, unemployment rates may go up, in which case fewer people would be in a position to buy a home and enjoy the fantastic mortgage rates.
Uncertainty: Markets dislike uncertainty, as witnessed by the stock market route that swept the globe following the Brexit results. Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen calls this uncertainty a negative for financial conditions and the U.S. economy. Great Britain is one of the world's key economies, and the direction its economy takes can direct impact the global economy.
If conditions seriously deteriorate, the Fed could roll back its recent interest rate hike and cut rates even further, perhaps into negative territory.
However, Bank of America sees only a minus 0.2 percentage point impact of Brexit on the U.S. economy, lowering next year's growth rate from 2.0 percent to 1.8 percent. With yield rates already low, the consumer and business benefits of low interest rates on mortgages and other loans will likely far outweigh and disadvantages.