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Our Predictions for the Brexit (More Than a Little Egg on Our Face)

By Motley Fool Staff – Jul 7, 2016 at 9:24AM

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We didn't quite get this one right, but at least we weren't alone.

The U.K.'s vote to separate from the European Union came out on the Brexit side. No one saw this coming, including us. We sometimes get things wrong. Just watch this clip from the MarketFoolery podcast, recorded on the day of the vote, to see us utterly fail to predict the Brexit. Four and a half long minutes of wrong predictions, guaranteed to fulfill all your schadenfreude needs.

It's not pretty, but we're happy to share, because in the market, as in global politics, sometimes no amount of skill guarantees you see things coming.

A transcript follows the video.

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This podcast was recorded on Jun. 23, 2016. 

Chris Hill: Are you excited for the Brexit vote, which is going on right now as we speak?

Bill Barker: The market's excited, isn't it?

Hill: The market does seem excited.

Barker: The market is celebrating. We're "buy" on the rumor here, and the rumor is that the Brexit vote will go down, the Bremain vote will ...

Hill: Yeah, Bremain is even worse than Brexit. The voting is happening --

Barker: It's just sad, when you're losing to Bremain.

Hill: [laughs] It kind of is. The vote is happening in England right now. The polls close at 10 p.m. in England, so 5 p.m. Eastern time here in the States, and there is no exit polling. So there's no sense of how the vote is going. Maybe there's a sense of how turnout is, but there's no exit polling. So the final results are expected to be announced Friday morning between 7 and 9 a.m. Again, that's in England. So that's in the middle of the night here.

Barker: It's hard for Americans to understand that somebody else's time would dictate. Isn't it?

Hill: [laughs] I'm not going to name names, but I have actually talked to a couple of people who have taken that stance. Like, "What?"

Barker: "How dare they?"

Hill: "Why are their polls open until 10 o'clock!"

Barker: "Why are they allowed to have a different time at all?"

Hill: But, to your point, that really is how the market is reacting right now in the States -- that this is going to be status quo. The idea that there is going to be this great upheaval with the U.K. leaving the European Union, we're not worried about that.

Barker: The market likes status quo a lot of the time, much more than uncertainty. And the betting odds, as I see them online right now, are 83% chance of staying in, and 16% chance of leaving. So it's about a 5-out-of-6 chance that the market is priced into the status quo reigning, and that is good enough.

Hill: I don't want to get into too many details for regulatory reasons, but have there been conversations in the Fool Funds group regarding how you're going to invest differently if, in fact, the Brexit vote passes, and the U.K. does end up leaving the European Union? Have those conversations taken place?

Barker: No. It would be reacting to a hypothetical. Of course, you could look at the odds and say, "Well, in the 1-in-6 chance that this happens, what should we do?" We're not a quick-turnover type of shop. We don't trade a lot. So the companies we own are likely to be, in our opinion, good ones to own for the next five to 10 years. Now, it's certainly the case that European stocks and British stocks in particular would be taking a big hit, might take a big hit tomorrow. Maybe we should be dedicating a lot of time to what is a fairly small amount of investment that's in England anyway. But, no, it's not something that has looked like it's enough of a worry to us, despite all of the press that it gets everywhere else.

Hill: So the people who are already looking past this vote toward the possibility of similarly styled votes in France, in other countries in Europe, that's not even on your radar right now? That's not even a concern?

Barker: The most proximate concern, I think, would be to take this -- because, the odds are similar, the betting market odds. It's nice to have places where betting on presidential elections is done, so that you can get some sort of odds, and that is done in England.

Hill: It's probably fun to be a bookmaker in England, don't you think?

Barker: I think so, yeah!

Hill: More fun than being a bookmaker here.

Baker: Open up bets on all sorts of things, what the name of the royal baby is going to be and all that. Anyway, the odds of Trump winning are basically about the same in the market right now as the odds of England leaving. And I think it would be similarly disruptive to the markets, either one of those things. Those odds change, and then you'll see a little bit more volatility in a market, just as you've seen a lot of volatility in England. When the odds were closer that Brexit would go through, definitely, the European markets in particular, and the U.S. markets, to a lesser extent, did take a hit.

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