NZ Herald business editor at large

Liam Dann: Brexit crash vs historic meltdowns

1987: The anguish of a record fall on the New Zealand sharemarket shows plainly on the faces of these three observers at the Auckland Stock Exchange. Photo / Archive
1987: The anguish of a record fall on the New Zealand sharemarket shows plainly on the faces of these three observers at the Auckland Stock Exchange. Photo / Archive

How does the Brexit crash compare to the other market meltdowns of history?

The shock decision of UK voters destroyed $2 trillion in wealth overnight and there is certainly more turmoil to come.

But so far it doesn't compare to the massive slumps of 1929, 1987 or 2008.

On Wall Street the major stock indexes plunged between three and four per cent last night. By comparison they fell more than 22 per cent in one day in 1987.

In 1929 they fell about 13 per cent on the first day of the crash, though that was followed by two more days of similar sized falls.

In 2008Wall Street was hit by a series of about eight crashes between September and December, with falls ranging between four and eight per cent.

So while there are still big risks, we are not necessarily looking a full scale global financial crisis at this stage.

In China, where stock markets have been notoriously, volatile the Shanghai index was down just than 1.3 per cent.

The People's Bank of China is widely expected to use a range of tools to further stimulate the economy in the wake of the Brexit.

It has more options than most and there is a great deal political will to maintain economic stability.

In the US the Federal Reserve has also indicated it will respond to the crisis and that means rates there will stay on hold longer.

Broadly, central banks are saying all the right things. There is still confidence that the US and China will ride this out over the next few weeks.

If that is the case the impact on New Zealand will be mitigated.

Our Reserve Bank has been criticised for not moving more aggressively to cut rates deeper before now, but now finds itself in the enviable position of having plenty of room to move if deep cuts are required to maintain growth.

In stark contrast it was countries with the least monetary policy firepower that saw the biggest stockmarket losses last night.

In Japan and Europe, where interest rates are below zero and central banks have very few option, markets were in free fall.

Japan's Nikkei index fell almost eight per cent. In Spain,Italy and Greece falls were around 13 per cent.

The immediate outlook for Europe and the UK is really not good and rest of the world faces a rocky ride in the next week.

But we should take some comfort in the fact that US and Chinese authorities pull out all the stops to head off the contagion effect.

- NZ Herald

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NZ Herald business editor at large

Liam Dann is business editor at large at the New Zealand Herald. He has been a journalist for 20 years, covering business for the last 14 of them. He has also worked in the banking sector in London and travelled extensively. His passion is for Markets and Economics, because they are the engine of the New Zealand economy. He hosts The Economy Hub video show every Thursday.

Read more by Liam Dann

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