The Global Impact of Brexit Uncertainty



Publishing details

Institute for New Economic Thinking Working Paper Series

Authors / Editors

Hassan T A; van Lent L; Hollander S; Tahoun A


Publication Year



Using tools from computational linguistics, we construct new measures of the impact of Brexit on listed firms in the United States and around the world: the share of discussions in quarterly earnings conference calls on costs, benefits, and risks associated with the UK’s intention to leave the EU. Using this approach, we identify which firms expect to gain or lose from Brexit and which are most affected by Brexit uncertainty. We then estimate the effects of these different kinds of Brexit exposure on firm-level outcomes. We find that concerns about Brexit-related uncertainty extend far beyond British or even European firms. US and international firms most exposed to Brexit uncertainty have lost a substantial fraction of their market value and have reduced hiring and investment. In addition to Brexit uncertainty (the second moment), we find that international firms overwhelmingly expect negative direct effects of Brexit (the first moment), should it come to pass. Most prominently, firms expect difficulties resulting from regulatory divergence, reduced labor mobility, trade access, and the costs of adjusting their operations post-Brexit. Consistent with the predictions of canonical theory, this negative sentiment is recognized and priced in stock markets but has not yet had significant effects on firm actions


Brexit; uncertainty; sentiment; machine learning; cross-country effects

Series Number



Institute for New Economic Thinking Working Paper Series