Pound Could Slide to $1.10 on No-Deal Brexit Scenario

  • Estimates of likelihood of no deal range from 5 to 40 percent
  • Market looking for progress in EU divorce talks by December

The risk of a no-deal Brexit is playing on investors’ minds.

The European Union is likely to confirm this week that Brexit talks have not made sufficient progress to move onto discussions about a future trading relationship, though the U.K. will be hoping it will consider a two-year transition period. The pound rallied above $1.33 on that prospect last week, before a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel shot down the idea.

Markets are now eyeing December as the next important deadline to make progress in the divorce talks, with just over a year to go at that point until Britain leaves the bloc. While most currency strategists surveyed by Bloomberg News see some kind of agreement or transition as a base case scenario, the chance of not getting a deal is a significant risk.

Here’s a roundup of views on the likelihood of no deal and the potential sterling reaction:

Morgan Stanley

  • How much Britain has to pay the EU is the most important factor in determining the success of the talks, says global head of currency strategy Hans Redeker
    • “Should we get an acceptable divorce we will get a Brexit deal”
  • That means risks are “front-loaded”
  • Sees a 15 percent probability of no-deal resulting in “new lows in cable” with the currency falling as low as $1.11

Mizuho Bank Ltd.

  • Currently “reasonably high probability” of no deal although this will likely reduce as we get closer to the exit date, says head of hedge fund sales Neil Jones
    • Assigns 35-40 percent chance of U.K. leaving without a deal
  • It’s “unlikely the parties will agree on an amount” for the U.K. to pay making it “tough to envisage” currently
  • If there’s no Brexit deal, sterling would fall to $1.10

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

  • Britain leaving the EU without a deal is “still a low probability scenario, perhaps around 20 percent,” says head of Group-of-10 currency strategy Jeremy Stretch
  • If no progress is announced at the EU’s December summit, “that probability would soar, perhaps making it a fifty-fifty”
  • This would see the pound falling “sharply lower,” to below $1.25 and toward 94 pence per euro

Nomura International Plc

  • “Whilst the next election may be 2022, any party in power knows that they will never be forgiven by voters, even if two to three years afterward, for not securing a transitional deal at the least,” says currency strategist Jordan Rochester
  • Estimates the likelihood of Britain tumbling out of the EU with WTO rules at 20 percent
  • If no deal, sees pound falling to $1.10-$1.20

Rabobank

  • The bank sees a 30 percent probability of no deal, “substantial but not our central view,” says head of currency strategy Jane Foley
  • “If a ‘no deal’ scenario appeared, GBP would likely become even more vulnerable”
  • Central view is $1.32 in three months, while a greater chance of a hard Brexit would shift this to $1.30

ING Groep NV

  • No deal is currently “a tail risk” of around 5 percent, according to currency strategist Viraj Patel
  • That risk is “already in the price” for sterling, but in a scenario where the odds rise to 25 percent, sterling would hit historic lows, dropping to as low as $1.20 and with EUR/GBP above 95 pence per euro
  • “To be honest the breakdown in talks could happen at any time but in reality the risks are for a defining moment for the pound in the first quarter of 2018”
    • “If we’re at a stage where there’s no transition, no progress, markets will shift quite quickly to a ‘no deal’ scenario”
  • “The fallout for the currency is certainly catastrophic under a no deal scenario”
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