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Pro Analysis

Top investor Sass buying during the Brexit panic

Martin Sass, chairman and CEO, MD Sass.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Martin Sass, chairman and CEO, MD Sass.

The announcement early Friday morning that British voters chose to exit the 28-nation European Union by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin defied appeals from every major European economic and political institution. The surprise vote to "leave" was part of a move to sovereignty and a rising rebellion against the political establishment due to slow growth, income inequality and disagreements on immigration reform (similar to the U.S.).

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron stated that he will resign by October, since he staked his reputation on a "remain" vote. The response to the vote was market chaos as risk assets immediately plunged — global equities lost roughly $2 trillion in market value (according to S&P), the British pound fell to its lowest level since 1985, and the euro and oil all dropped significantly last Friday, while traditional safe havens, notably U.S. government bonds, gold, the U.S. dollar, Swiss franc and Japanese yen, rallied in a "flight to safety."

The outcome was an unforecastable shock (the U.K. betting markets had put a 79 percent probability on a remain vote even though recent polls suggested a close vote) and surprised the markets. The following helps illustrate the sharp one-day declines in select global equity markets and currencies last Friday: