More foreign exchange transactions are done in London than anywhere else on the planet. Hundreds of banks and some of the world’s biggest hedge funds call London home. Britain’s capital is, by most measures, the first or second most important financial centre in the world.
Those opposed to Britain leaving the European Union have regularly warned that Brexit will devastate that sector.
Those who back Britain leaving say the country will be better off breaking its dependency on banking, or that leaving the EU – and leaving behind Brussels’ rules and regulations – will allow the financial industry to prosper even more.
But measuring what has actually happened in the City – as London’s historic financial district is called – can be difficult. That’s why this week we’re introducing our Brexit Tracker. The Tracker incorporates a comprehensive survey we published in September on the number of jobs affected by Brexit so far, as well as less conventional measures such as the number of people using the City’s main Underground stations and the number of applications for licenses to sell alcohol in the financial district.
We want to give a health report on London’s financial heart, a report that we will update at least every six months in an attempt to measure Brexit’s cost or benefit.
Our Tracker is just the latest way we’re following the Brexit saga. From the results of the vote and Prime Minister Theresa May’s notification of the divorce to the impact on both British and international businesses, we see this as one of the most interesting political, economic and financial stories of our time.
— Simon Robinson is Reuters’ Regional Editor for Europe, the Middle East and Africa —