What Brexit means for North Carolina

Friday, June 24, 2016
Effect of Brexit decision
What does Brexit mean for NC and the Triangle?

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Major companies in the Triangle with economic ties to the European Union don't like the uncertainty around Great Britain's vote to pull out.

The same concern goes for investors watching US markets tumble Friday. U.S. stocks gave up all their gains from earlier in the year suffered their biggest losses since August. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 611.21 points, or 3.39 percent, to 17,399.86. The S&P 500 dropped 76 points, or 3.6 percent, to 2,035. The Nasdaq composite had its biggest loss since mid-2011, down 202 points, or 4.1 percent, to 4,707. Indexes in Europe and Asia took even larger losses.

But a local expert is telling investors to relax.

"Nothing has actually happened yet," said Gerald Townsend of Townsend Asset Management in Raleigh.

Townsend says the uncertainty around Great Britain's departure from the EU does not have a long-term impact on most investors.

RELATED: How Triangle-based companies did on Wall Street Friday

"So the markets are reacting. It's on everybody's lips but it's going to take a long time to play out. My advice for investors is to do nothing," said Townsend. "Don't just stand there and do something. Stand there and do nothing."

Townsend says consider this analogy: economies are like the ocean -- stable and less volatile. However, markets are like a speed boat -- reacting to every dip and unexpected wave.

"We buzz around the ocean. The ocean doesn't change much," Townsend explained.

But for businesses it's different.

Glaxo Smith Kline, one of the major companies in the Triangle with ties to Britain, is now forced to maneuver a costly financial wave.

"If you are a company in the United States, a strong dollar makes your exports overseas more expensive, so at least in theory that's going to hurt your profit and bottom line a little bit," Townsend said.

GSK released this statement:

"Although the EU Referendum result creates uncertainty and potentially complexity for us in the future, we do not currently anticipate an adverse impact on the business."

Caterpillar - another local company with ties to Europe - released this statement:

"The UK is an intrinsic part of our European supply chain and we urge all parties to reach an agreement that quickly removes the uncertainty."

Townsend says there are personal benefits to consumers:

  • Cheaper vacations to Europe
  • Fixed-rate mortgages are expected to stay the same or drop lower.
  • Investors will have ample time to buy cheaper investments, as it will take time for Britain's EU exit to be officially complete.