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What Does Brexit Mean for U.S. Investors?

As Britain weighs the immigration, cost-benefit, and trade implications of E.U. membership, U.S. investors should check their risk exposure to Europe.

Alina Lamy: On June 23, the U.K. will hold a referendum to vote on whether it will exit the European Union, an event that has become commonly known as Brexit, or Britain’s exit. The central question (not a simple one) is whether Britain would be better off by itself or as a member of the E.U. Multiple developments have led to this, and the stay-versus-leave argument revolves around a few central issues: Immigration, the cost versus benefit of belonging to the E.U., and the potential implications for Britain's trade operations.

Concerns over increased immigration and its effects (many of them familiar here in the U.S.) have become more pronounced recently, especially as Europe confronted waves of Syrian immigrants and faced the conflicts and tensions this situation inevitably gave rise to. The percentage of immigrants coming into the U.K. from the E.U. increased to 42% in 2015 from 29% in 2010. These numbers, along with the fact that migrants put pressure on a country’s social and economic systems, are mainly an argument used by the "vote leave" proponents, who point out that by leaving the E.U., Britain would be able to set more stringent controls and more effectively manage the flow of immigrants.

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