Bain: Think Again Before Investing in Western Europe
Posted by hkarner - 7. Dezember 2016
Source: The Wall Street Journal
The Brexit vote and growing nationalism has increased the risk of the eurozone disintegrating, says Bain
Thinking of making new investments in Western Europe? The advice from one management consultancy is blunt: don’t.
Warning of the likely breakup of the euro, Bain & Co has advised its clients to freeze new investments and manage down exposures if possible. “This is one of the few times when it will likely pay to take a step back,” it said in an unpublished note to clients seen by The Wall Street Journal.
Bain argued that the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union and the growing tide of nationalism across Europe has increased the likelihood of the disintegration of the 19-country bloc that uses the euro. Further destabilization could happen quickly and might prompt investors to “rush for overcrowded exits,” it warned.Bain issued its advice before the Italian referendum on Sunday that prompted the resignation of Prime Minister Mario Renzi and was seen by some as a victory for populists in the heart of the eurozone.
Others believe markets have overreacted to the risks to the eurozone posed by populist movements.
A survey of investors published last week by Sentix, a Frankfurt-based research group, put the chances of Italy leaving the euro in the next 12 months at 19.3%, the highest since the poll started in 2012.
In contrast to the mostly gloomy forecasts about the impact of Brexit on the U.K. economy, Bain says the best place for investors in Western Europe to avoid “collateral damage” from a breakup of the single currency may actually be England (rather than the U.K. as a whole, given the possibility that Scotland decides to secede).
According to Karen Harris, head of Bain’s Macro Trends Group, it is possible that Brexit negotiations take so long that major parts of the European Union leave before the U.K. has a chance to complete its exit.
Bain’s expectation that the single currency will break up is based on its view that the diverging inflationary pressures between key member countries are unsustainable. It also says the growing overhang from seven years of crisis is making the cost of lasting union ever more expensive.
“Fatigued governments and populations are less likely to be disposed to the sacrifices required to create durable pan-EU institutions,” it said.
Although Bain is advising clients to “withhold new investments” in Western Europe, Ms. Harris said there could be good investments to be made if they are focused on single countries, rather than cross border, or are in areas such as research and development, automation or defense.