What Would a Hard Brexit Mean for Global Business?

Topics

MIT SMR Strategy Forum

Each month, we pose a question about business, management, technology, or public policy to our panel of academic experts. Here you can see what they think and why.
Learn more about this series

We asked our panel of strategy experts to tell us how strongly they agree with this statement:

A hard Brexit will have a significant, negative impact on many businesses, even if they do not have a U.K. or European presence.
RAW RESPONSES
WEIGHTED BY CONFIDENCE

Raw Responses

Responses weighted by panelists’ level of confidence

Panelists

Panelist Vote Confidence Comments

Richard Florida

University of Toronto
Profile
Disagree 8 “A hard Brexit will have a big negative impact on businesses, especially finance businesses that are based in London for [its] talent magnet. It will have far less [of an] impact on businesses that have no connection to London, especially those outside of Europe. The only impact on them will be indirect — say, in the case of any broader economic fallout from Brexit.”

Joshua Gans

University of Toronto
Profile
Agree 8 “This is the kind of shock that can lead to a worldwide recession. Basically, Europe is big and this move will hit it hard. The flow-on effects to the rest of the world are something to be very concerned about. We have had worse from much less.”

Tom Lyon

University of Michigan
Profile
Agree 7 “The S&P 500 obtain about 2% to 3% of their revenue from the U.K., so there will definitely be an impact on U.S. firms. Even firms that do not derive revenue from the U.K. will feel general equilibrium effects due to rising trade uncertainties. In June 2016, after the initial shock of the Brexit vote, even the least revenue-exposed firms lost about 2% of value.”

Rebecca Henderson

Harvard University
Profile
Disagree 3 “I'm not at all sure that we can answer this question. A hard Brexit will almost certainly create turmoil in Britain — and probably, to a lesser degree, in Europe. But would these effects propagate across the world? I don't think we can tell.”

R. Preston McAfee

Economist
Profile
Agree 6 “Uncertainty is bad for business, and businesses are more interconnected than ever. Hard Brexit creates many uncertainties for trade, movement of workers and executives, Northern Ireland, etc. U.S. or Asian businesses that sell into the EU through European distribution or source parts in Europe will be affected. Supply chains are global.”

Scott Stern

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Profile
Agree 4 “With London as a center for global finance, the potential for global macro effects seems significant, and uncertainty itself can be a source of hysteresis (see Nick Bloom and coauthors). It seems like most people believe that ‘something will be worked out,’ but it is not clear what will be done or by whom, to avoid significant economic impact on firms regardless of location.”

Ashish Arora

Duke University
Profile
Agree 8 “The interesting question is who will make money out of a hard Brexit. Brexit is bad for business. A hard Brexit will be worse. Even firms not in the U.K. or Europe will feel the pain because value chains are globally integrated. On the demand side, EU growth will be slower, which will hurt as well.”

John Roberts

Stanford University
Profile
Agree 5

Meghan Busse

Northwestern University
Profile
Agree 5 “As we have seen recently in the U.S., an abrupt change in the terms of trade can have rippling effects that can be hard to predict. It is easy to guess which firms will be affected most directly, but the full path of adjustment is much harder to predict.”

John Van Reenen

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Profile
Strongly Agree 10 “I have several papers showing this, for example: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/brexit02_technical_paper.pdf. More recent reports include: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/brexit12.pdf.”

Richard Holden

University of New South Wales
Profile
Agree 8 “The dislocation and uncertainty caused will cascade through supply chains and networks of firms, regardless of their own direct geographical presence.”

Shane Greenstein

Harvard University
Profile
Agree 5 “It will have a significant impact on businesses in the U.K. while all the uncertainty gets sorted out. Outside the U.K., some businesses are exposed to related risks, but I would not guess it is nearly as large.”

Olav Sorenson

Yale University
Profile
Disagree 7 “The tough part of this question is the final clause. I have little doubt that Brexit will be bad for U.K. businesses and possibly for EU businesses as well. But for firms without much of a presence in this market, a hard Brexit might end up being a positive if it reduces the competitiveness of EU and U.K. rivals.”

Steve Tadelis

University of California, Berkeley
Profile
Neither Agree nor Disagree 5 “A hard Brexit may have countervailing effects. On one hand, it will hit the U.K. hard and that should have a ripple effect. The U.K. is not a huge economy, but it’s still meaningful. On the other hand, a hard Brexit may be a deterrent to other ill-thought-through attempts at leaving the EU, which may act as a stronger glue to keep the rest of the EU together, reducing uncertainty about its stability.”

Anita McGahan

University of Toronto
Profile
Agree 4 “The direct effects of a hard Brexit will be greatest in the U.K. and Europe, but because of the significance of the U.K. as the world's fifth largest economy, the impact will be significant everywhere in the world. The most significant consequences will be in financial services, IT, oil and gas, and other industries in which U.K. firms have significant positions on a global scale.”

Joel Waldfogel

University of Minnesota
Profile
Disagree 3 “It seems reasonable to expect short-term disruption and a longer-term negative effect on the U.K. These by themselves suggest only small impacts for firms outside of the EU or U.K. The larger impact is the 2016 surprise — in the U.K. as in the U.S. — that the electorates are so willing to break beneficial international arrangements that have long promoted peace and prosperity.”

Timothy Simcoe

Boston University
Profile
Disagree 3 “Hard to see the impacts without some sort of ‘presence,’ even though Brexit is clearly bad news for supply chains that run through the British Isles.”

Melissa Schilling

New York University
Profile
Strongly Agree 10 “A hard Brexit is going to be disruptive to a wide range of value chains, and those value chains extend well beyond the U.K. The economy is a tightly interdependent ecosystem. To consider the full impact, we have to look up and down the supply and distribution channels and consider who else they are connected to. Consumer spending power in the U.K. will also be affected.”

Rajshree Agarwal

University of Maryland
Profile
Agree 8 “Any institutional shock to business as usual, whether positive or negative, creates a negative short-term impact to businesses who operate in that environment. So firms who are doing business in the U.K. and Europe will be most affected, with spillovers for firms who have indirect connections. The longer-term impact is more open to question.”

Erik Brynjolfsson

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Profile
Agree 6

Yael Hochberg

Rice University
Profile
Strongly Agree 10 “Effects will be felt in labor supply [and a] shift of center of financial gravity for Europe to other cities. Economic uncertainty may lead to reduced consumption overall.”

Jennifer Brown

University of Utah
Profile
Neither Agree nor Disagree 6 “A 101 textbook answer: A weakened GBP could make it harder for U.S. firms to compete with those cheaper imported goods. Moreover, U.S.-based firms that are upstream from hard-hit global firms may feel the shock indirectly. Alternatively, seemingly stable U.S. firms may benefit from investors’ uncertainty about U.K./EU opportunities. The net effect on U.S. firms seems almost as unclear as Brexit itself.”

Lori Rosenkopf

University of Pennsylvania
Profile
Agree 7

Bruno Cassiman

University of Navarra
Profile
Agree 9

Daniel Levinthal

University of Pennsylvania
Profile
Agree 8 “The hard Brexit would likely be a negative shock to the U.K. and EU, which in turn should act as a negative demand shock for the global economy.”

Petra Moser

New York University
Profile
Agree 8 “The time of isolated economics is long over. When the British economy tanks, Europe will be affected and so will firms in other countries, even if they don’t have any direct business with the U.K. or Europe.”

Topics

MIT SMR Strategy Forum

Each month, we pose a question about business, management, technology, or public policy to our panel of academic experts. Here you can see what they think and why.
Learn more about this series

More Like This

Add a comment

You must to post a comment.

First time here? Sign up for a free account: Comment on articles and get access to many more articles.