You’re probably all aware by now, but there’s a giant Steam sale going on right now. It’ll go on throughout most of the first week of July as well. And that’s excellent — because as it turns out, today might not be a great day to be buying games in US dollars.
If you haven’t been keeping track of current affairs, here’s a quick update. Britain is currently having a referendum on whether it should stay or remain in the European Union, and while a possible exit — handily called Brexit — might not happen immediately if the bid is successful, the financial ramifications are huge.
Whether or not Britain remains in the European Union will be determined by the overall number of votes. According to the BBC, around 16.8 million votes are required for either side to win (with over 15 million votes having been counted at the time of writing).
Bookmakers and traders all week had been operating on the expectation that the Remain (or Bremain) camp would win by a very narrow majority. That’s generally considered A Good Thing as far as economists are concerned, because the consequences of untangling Britain from the European Union’s financial mechanisms are … well, bloody complicated.
Because of that belief, the stock market and exchange rate was on the rise. But in the last few hours, the polls have shifted away from the Remain camp and more in the favour of a Brexit. Here’s the current gap:
It’s still on a knife-edge, but that uncertainty has spooked the living buggery out of markets. Shortly after markets opened, Business Insider reported that the ASX 200 nosedived by 2 percent and Japan’s Nikkei shed 2.17%.
The damage to the exchange rate has been palpable, and after an initial surge on the belief that Bremain would win the day, the Aussie dollar has gone full Bonnie and Clyde.
This is a live chart of the Aussie dollar against the US in recent hours. It started the day above $US0.76 cents, but things have only gone south from there: it’s hovering just under $US0.738 at the time of writing. If Brexit continues to gain ground, markets will plunge even further — making all those tempting sales on Steam just that little bit more expensive.
Of course, should the votes turn in Brexit’s favour — which is entirely possible — it’s expected that markets will rally, and the Australian dollar will recover a good chunk of today’s losses.
So with that massive volatility in mind, perhaps today isn’t the greatest day to go on a Steam buying spree. Patience is a virtue, after all.
Update (2:00 PM): With major news outlets now officially forecasting a Brexit, the dollar has continued to get properly smashed:
Down almost half a cent* in the space of an hour. Brace for impact, people.