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Lionel Laurent

Brexit Is Ripping the World's Financial Plumbing Apart

Banks and exchanges aren't waiting for political uncertainty to abate before they move business.

Sign of the times.

Sign of the times.

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe

The drab world of derivatives clearing, the financial plumbing designed to deliver $400 trillion of annual trades safely, was never supposed to be an emotive issue.

But that depended on regulators preserving the post-2008 spirit of global co-operation. With Brexit inflaming rhetoric between the U.K., U.S. and Europe, banks and exchanges are doing their best to prepare for the worst. The risk of the world's financial plumbing breaking down along national lines, triggering extra cost and disruption, is becoming real.