Brexit-related losses widen to $3 trillion in relentless 2-day sell-off

Brexit vote cost worldwide markets more than $2T
Brexit vote cost worldwide markets more than $2T

The U.K.'s vote to leave the European Union was a costly decision in more ways than one.

Between Friday and Monday, worldwide markets hemorrhaged more than $3 trillion in paper wealth, according to data from S&P Global, the worst ever recorded. For context, the amount shed by markets over the last two trading sessions far eclipses the turbulent trading losses of the 2008 financial crisis, according to S&P analyst Howard Silverblatt. 

Approximately $1.3 trillion of that came from U.S. markets alone, Silverblatt noted. On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled by more than 260 points, which fared better than the London Stock Exchange, where the FTSE 250 plunged by nearly 7 percent. The British pound has suffered worst of all, with the currency swooning, ending the session at a 31-year low.

Julian Jessop, an analyst at Capital Economics, said despite the increased volatility "it would be wrong to conclude that the world is on the cusp of another global financial crisis. Indeed, even sterling's slump against the dollar is less dramatic when seen in its proper context," he said, adding that the currency was fairly valued on a trade-weighted basis.

Even the wealthy haven't been spared from the wrath of a capricious market. Bloomberg's Billionaires Index noted that the world's 400 wealthiest investors lost a combined $127 billion in Friday's market downturn, and an additional $53 billion on Monday.

"Brexit is the biggest global monetary shock since 2008," said David Beckworth, a scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, in a blog post on Friday. "This could be the tipping point that turns the existing global slowdown of 2016 into a global recession."

Beckworth also noted that risks stemming from the U.K.'s decision are "hastening the frantic race to bottom on safe yields." Safe-haven government bond prices have soared around the world, pushing yields to near-historical lows. Bond yields move inversely of prices. 

Massive demand for safe-haven assets is outstripping supply, he added, meaning currencies such as the yen and U.S. dollar, as well as government bonds and gold, are likely to keep booming.

Since Brexit became a catchphrase for markets, risk-averse investors have destroyed vast sums of wealth in fear of the potential shockwaves that could ripple through the global economy. Although analysts say an affirmative U.K. vote was always a possibility, markets appear to be preparing themselves for even bigger ructions — making more losses all but certain.