The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

How Brexit will hit your back pocket

Brexit will affect Kiwis in more ways than one. Herald business writer Christopher Adams examines the good and the bad.


Your KiwiSaver balance may be looking worse for wear after the market carnage sparked by Britain's shock vote to leave the European Union.

Around US$2 trillion was erased from the value of global sharemarkets on Friday. Roughly $2.8 billion was wiped off New Zealand's stock exchange alone.

Most KiwiSaver funds hold shares, and riskier, more growth-focused options generally invest more heavily in stocks. Bond and currency markets have also been shaken up by the volatility caused by the result.

Sharemarkets, including New Zealand's, are likely to fall again tomorrow and uncertainty stemming from Brexit, including the potential for other European nations to leave the union, could stoke volatility in markets even for years.

But stocks could recover later in the week as investors realise Brexit is not the end of the world.

Canny traders will take advantage of the upheaval and view it as a buying opportunity.


That mid-winter jaunt to the UK suddenly became cheaper after Britain's currency fell through the floor on Friday.

The New Zealand dollar was buying 52p yesterday, up from 48.5p on Thursday, the best exchange rate in almost three years.

The kiwi made a modest gain against the euro to be trading at around 64c, but fell sharply against the US dollar from US73c Friday morning to US70.8c yesterday.

A currency exchange chain reported record numbers of people through their doors, and travel agents saw an increase in queries into holidays to the UK and Europe.

But Britain has been left a deeply divided nation by the Brexit referendum and there is potential for social unrest, which could put a dampener on your holiday.


Mortgages/house prices

Interest rates are expected to stay lower for longer as the global economy and financial markets absorb the impact of the Brexit shock.

Mark Lister, of Craigs Investment Partners, said the Reserve Bank could cut the official cash rate below 2 per cent from 2.25 per cent.

"There's a good chance that they cut now in August and cut more aggressively," Lister said.

Lower rates could pour fire on an already heated property market, an outcome the Reserve Bank will be keen to avoid as it juggles conflicting economic pressures - namely rising house prices, stubbornly low inflation and a strong kiwi dollar.

However, Lister said heightened volatility in financial markets may increase banks' funding costs. That could mean mortgage rates don't go lower even if the OCR is cut, he said.


There have been suggestions that Britain may ease immigration restrictions facing New Zealanders if it leaves the EU.

But Prime Minister John Key poured cold water on those claims in the lead-up to the Brexit vote.

"As part of the driving motivation of the leave camp is about migration, it is hard to see them then, if they do leave, all of a sudden having a very welcoming policy on migration [from New Zealand]," Key said. "I don't think [access] would be greatly enhanced."

The Brexit vote is bad news for New Zealanders who hold British passports and have enjoyed being able to live and work freely in the EU. That looks likely to change.

It remains to be seen whether Britain leaving the EU will result in large numbers of Britons deciding to up sticks and migrate to other countries, including New Zealand.

A young couple painted as EU flags, protest on outside Downing Street against the United Kingdom's decision to leave the EU. Photo / Getty Images
A young couple painted as EU flags, protest on outside Downing Street against the United Kingdom's decision to leave the EU. Photo / Getty Images


Although Britain isn't the crucial export market it once was, it still received $3.1 billion in New Zealand goods and services in the year to September 2015.

ExportNZ reckons much work by Kiwi trade negotiators will be required to deal with the post-Brexit landscape. Its executive director, Catherine Beard, said New Zealand's trade arrangements would be affected if new trade deals needed to be struck between the EU and Britain.

For example, meat export deals may need to be renegotiated.

"Our goods exports to Europe are already highly tariffed and New Zealand exporters are hopeful of changing this with a NZ-EU free trade agreement as soon as possible. Britain's exit from the EU could slow this process down."

Brexit could also affect this country's tourism industry as Britain is the fourth biggest source of tourists for the sector. The steep drop in the pound's value will make travelling overseas more expensive for Britons.

The story so far

• In a historic referendum Britain voted to leave the European Union after 43 years.

• Prime Minister David Cameron, who supported remaining in the EU, resigned shortly after the result. He will step down by October.

• World markets reacted to the shock outcome and roughly US$2 trillion was wiped off global stocks.

• Britain's pound plunged to its lowest level since 1985.

• Quitting the EU is not an automatic process and negotiations with the remaining 27 countries are expected to take at least two years.

• A volatile week of trading is expected when the markets reopen tomorrow.

• David Cameron will head to Brussels this week for the European Council summit.

Listen to the Mike Hosking Breakfast on Newstalk ZB live from London this week.

- Herald on Sunday

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