Could the European Union and share markets benefit from Brexit?

Equity markets around the world bounced back overnight following heavy sell-offs after Britain shockingly voted to leave the European Union.

Of course, there is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding the issue. Part of that includes speculation that Britain may hold a second referendum vote with more than 4-million individuals signing a petition to do so (even though Prime Minister David Cameron has all but ruled that out), and there is speculation over whether other members of the EU will follow Britain’s lead out of the group.

However, there have also been suggestions that Britain’s controversial decision could benefit the EU.

Again, no one knows for sure what will happen next, which is why global markets have responded so swiftly. In other words, this is all just speculation for now.

But in the time since the result was finalised, Britain has received an enormous amount of backlash. A recession in the United Kingdom is now considered likely by a number of economists, together with a very tough adjustment period over the coming years, with a number of its own citizens who voted “Leave” now expressing their regret in doing so.

To some individuals leaving the EU may have seemed like a good idea in the lead up to the vote, but the horror of the situation and what their country could be forced to endure in the coming years is only just sinking in for them now. A potential recession is just one factor, together with higher costs of living as a result of the weaker pound, and there being the potential for elevated unemployment rates.

There is a chance that the UK will decide against leaving the EU after all (it wasn’t a binding referendum). But regardless, the EU will likely make this a very difficult transition for Britain to deter other countries considering filing for divorce from the EU.

Or as The Australian Financial Review so delicately put it, “They have every incentive in making Britain “Exhibit A” as to why life outside the EU sucks.

If Britain does decide to follow through with the divorce, the process could take more than two years as it negotiates new trade deals with the EU and figures out exactly how to deal with the mess.

While there is likely to be some volatility experienced by global markets in the near future, investors could perhaps use that opportunity to buy shares of businesses that are unlikely to be directly affected by Brexit, yet whose share prices have tumbled anyway.

It’s also possible that the Reserve Bank of Australia will be more inclined to cut interest rates in the near future to ease the market’s tensions. That could benefit shareholders of businesses such as Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA), which both offer solid, fully franked dividend yields.

Again, this is all speculation for now – no country has ever left the European Union so there is no precedent to refer to. While the uncertainty of the situation may make for an uncomfortable time. However, it could also create some great buying opportunities which investors should most certainly be on the lookout for.

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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