×

Keep calm and carry on: Time to rationalize not panic

An amazing thing happened on Saturday morning and, contrary to many expectations, in hindsight it was gloriously predictable: The sun rose.

Yes, despite the apocalyptic events on the markets and in political circles over the previous 24 hours, it not only rose but it stayed up in the sky for a whole day and, accompanied by some great British thunder storms, it managed to go down in the evening. This miracle happened again on Sunday and there are now high hopes it will do so again throughout the week.

Things may be cr*p for a lot of people right now -- for bull market pumpers to woefully inaccurate pollsters, for pro-European Tories to West End estate agents -- but the truth is for many people not a lot will change in a hurry. And maybe in the long-term, some good might come out of all of this upheaval.

businessman frustrated panic
Lisa-Blue | E+ | Getty Images

I am no glass-half-full optimist, in fact I have more than my fair share of irrational black dog moments (mostly on Sunday evenings) but I do think it's time to take a bit of stock and get to grips with the fact that what is done is done and there is no going back.

I'm not going to share my politics, but I had always hoped Britain could work with like-minded partners and make Europe work from the inside. That is now a forlorn wish, which has been flushed away along with many others. But irregardless, the U.K. -- and everyone else for that matter -- has just got to get on with it.

There is no point in the young blaming the old, calling them selfish for throwing away their pan-European futures. As voter turnout figures reveal, all the young needed to have done was look up from their smartphones and laptops for long enough to realise that this was real democracy in action. Clicking on a button on a Government website to call for action after the event is pretty sad when all they had to do was put on their Converse and walk to a polling station, put an X next to Remain and then go back to Facebook.

Equally disappointing is the vile crowing from many in the Brexit camp. You won, you don't need to rub anyone's nose in it. Jingoism and flag-waving has never been our most attractive characteristic.

Time perhaps to invoke the best of Kipling when he told us in 'If' that you needed to "meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same".

So what good can come?

Well for starters, political establishments across Europe are getting a kicking right now and it didn't start with Brexit in the last 72 hours.

From the rejection of Irish voters of Enda Kenny's austerity to the rise of new, parties in Italy, Spain and Greece it's been clear that the status quo isn't working for the vast swathes of people outside of the corporate and political bubbles. The EU and its associated organizations is only the latest political institution to get a thrashing from voters. It won't be the last. Surely after eight years of crisis and weak political leadership across many parts of Europe change is long overdue. Maybe just maybe this shock will galvanise better politicians, better policy and longer term thinking.

In the UK the future for the City looks worrying short-term but after the noise has died down it will still be an amazing place with amazing global talent. I have seen many attempts in my near 30 years in the Square Mile by Frankfurt and Paris to steal business from London and they all failed. Paris is a great place but it will never have the same pulling power for the financial institutions and their employees.

Even if the City does lose its pre-eminence in the UK economy is that such a bad thing for the country's trade balance? Maybe yes, but only if we fail as a nation to rebalance a dangerously lopsided economy.

And what about asset prices? Well quite frankly the 30 percent-40 percent markdown at the open on Friday of a host of stocks from building materials to house-builders looked a tad overdone. Sure, the economy could go shaky for a while, but the last time I looked, we were still a tiny island with a massive population and a housing shortage crisis. Therefore, those millions of people who wanted to own their own home in the pre-Brexit world apparently still want a home as opposed to paying exorbitant rents in the post-Brexit world. A blanket sell off will always create some great opportunities. When you sell off $2 trillion in one go there are always anomalies with that poor old baby going down the drain with the bathwater.

There was a lot of that irrationality on Friday which of course was a direct result of the ludicrously overoptimistic mark-up in prices going into the vote. Hopefully we will never listen to a pollster again. They have proved themselves next to useless way too often.

Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty scared. Scared like a vast number of other people about what this all means. I worry for my kids, my friends and probably my economic situation too but this won't be helped by panicking.

We've all kind of got to just get on it with it because the scaremongering from both sides before last Thursday was a disease, which is spreading now the result is clear. As we all know confidence is the X factor for everything in the markets and economy. Over time it will come back, I just hope we don't all elongate that waiting period by overdoing the pessimism.

Steve Sedgwick co-anchors CNBC's flagship program, Squawk Box Europe and is CNBC's OPEC reporter. Follow him @steve_sedgwick

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.