Risk Assessment

Brexit Raises Risk of Global Recession, Maybe

After Britain voted to leave the EU last week stock markets around the world became very volatile. Two days after the vote $2.5 trillion were wiped from the world’s markets.? To put that into perspective that’s roughly the entire annual economic productivity (GDP) of the United Kingdom.

George Soros, the investor who warned of a 20% devaluation in the British pound now warns the Brexit has “unleashed a crisis similar to the financial panic of 2007 and 2008.” He says that a hard landing in China is “practically unavoidable.” And he is not alone. Most news sites say the Brexit fallout will continue to ripple across the world and put not only Britain but also the U.S. and other countries back into recession.

These commentaries are often portrayed as conventional wisdom, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily true. In fact, news predictions are often wrong. One day in 1987 stock markets around the world crashed starting in Hong Kong and spreading to Europe and then to North America. The Dow Jones index in the U.S. lost more points in a single day than any prior trading period. This historic event was known as Black Monday. Many analysts and publications at the time warned it was only the beginning of a bear market and that more turmoil would come. A lot of people believed the hype and got out of the market because they were afraid. But those investors didn’t do their own risk assessment. Today, Black Monday is nothing more than a small, insignificant blip in the historical stock market chart. (circled in red below)


The way we perceive risk is not always rooted in reality. An article in the Chicago Sun-Time features a study that demonstrates how conventional wisdom can lead people to the wrong conclusions about risk. Imagine an 8 year old girl has 2 best friends who both live close by but in different homes. The first friend’s parents keep a gun in their home.? The other friend’s household doesn’t have a gun but does have a backyard swimming pool. ?

If you had to choose, which is the safer house for the little girl to go play in? ?

Without any other information most parents would probably think the second friend’s house is safer because guns are perceived to be more dangerous than swimming pools. But in a country such as the United States, there are about 6 million swimming pools, and 550 children under ten years old drown in them each year. However out of roughly 200 million guns in the U.S., only 175 children die each year from guns. In other words, the risk of the girl dying by a pool (1 in 11,000) is much higher than dying by a gun (less than 1 in 1,000,000.) According to the study’s author, most people are “terrible risk assessors.” We often let irrational fears cloud our judgement.


It’s the same when it comes to our finances. Sometimes the risks that scare us are not the same risks that actually hurt our investments. It’s important to ask if Soros and news outlets have any self-serving interests in the matter before acknowledging their claims at face value. So I don’t believe all the negative headlines about Brexit hurting the economy. I’d rather do my own research to find out. 🙂 Whatever damage Brexit will do to the world’s markets I’m pretty sure in a few decades the impact will only appear as a minor blip on the overall chart.

Random Useless Fact:


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07/03/2016 5:44 am

“Whatever damage Brexit will do to the world’s markets I’m pretty sure in a few decades the impact will only appear as a minor blip on the overall chart.” Of course. Take it out far enough and everything is a “minor blip”. Then again…the cause of the ’08 crash was the American housing market which, at the time, comprised a mere 5% of the US GDP, or 1% of the global GDP. The entire UK GDP makes up 3% of the global GDP, there’s a lot more at stake than just greedy house flippers and crooked banks. It’s not a crashing house of cards, but it is in turmoil, and will have resounding social and financial effects. Not only that but basing future predictions on mere visual cues is bizarrely wrong and just as misleading as your take on Soros et al. Take a look at your chart again. The 1987 crash was a single day, that’s why it looks like a “minor blip”, whereas ’08 was a prolonged crash which will not disappear so easily. Another way to look at it is not in terms of market movements but what moves the markets. For instance, look at the year… Read more »

07/04/2016 5:14 am

Interesting reply and a conversation I had on the weekend about residential real estate.

The other people were arguing that renovations, location, etc. were/are paramount in determining the price of a house. I argued that prices were/are driven predominantly by the cost of payments, i.e. mortgage rates and term lengths (bond rates have been the main driver of house prices over the last few decades) and that all other factors have very little input or effect (there’s also speculation, but I didn’t get into that).

The other side didn’t like the idea that all their time and money pumped into their houses had very little effect on its market price. Oh well.

Stone Sample Boards
Stone Sample Boards
07/05/2016 12:35 am

Brexit Raises Risk of Global Recession.

Stone sample case
Stone sample case
07/05/2016 12:50 am

Leave the EU may hurt the England economy.