The world’s biggest banks including Citi and Goldman Sachs will draft in senior traders to work through the night following Britain’s referendum on EU membership, set to be among the most volatile 24 hours for markets in a quarter of a century.
A vote to leave the European Union on June 23 would spook investors by undermining post-World War Two attempts at European integration and placing a question mark over the future of the United Kingdom and its $2.9 trillion economy.
Citi, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds are among those banks planning to have senior staff and traders working or on call in London as results start to dribble in after polls close at 2100 GMT, according to the sources.
Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co, told employees on a visit to Britain this month that if the vote was to leave the EU, the bank would have to have “teams of people thrown on what that means”.
“We won’t know what it means: there is a wide range of outcomes,” Dimon, a supporter of Britain’s membership who has warned of job cuts at JPMorgan in Britain if there is an Out vote, said in the broadcast speech.
A vote to leave could unleash turmoil on foreign exchange, equity and bond markets, spoiling bets across asset classes and potentially testing the infrastructure of Western markets such as computer systems, stock exchanges and clearing houses.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has cautioned that a Brexit vote could shake financial markets and potentially push back the timing of the next rise in U.S. interest rates.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has said sterling could depreciate, “perhaps sharply” and some major banks have forecast an unprecedented fall to parity with the euro and as low as $1.20 in the days following any vote to leave the bloc.
The Bank of England will be staffed overnight, with senior policymakers on call if markets go into meltdown. The finance ministry would not comment on its staffing plans.
The official Vote Leave campaign argues there is no evidence that leaving the EU would weaken sterling long term, while Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party has said that even if the currency did fall, it would simply boost British exports.