May 7, 2019 / 4:34 PM / 12 days ago

Bank of England hits the road to assess Brexit impact on economy

FILE PHOTO: A bird flies past The Bank of England in the City of London, Britain, December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

SHEFFIELD, England (Reuters) - The Bank of England is monitoring road congestion around Britain’s major ports as it tries to improve its real-time intelligence of what might happen to the economy in the event of a no-deal Brexit, its chief economist said.

Britain’s central bank warned in the run-up to the country’s original March 29 departure date from the European Union that leaving without a deal could cause significant damage to the economy. The deadline has since been delayed to Oct. 31.

Chief economist Andy Haldane said in speech on Tuesday that the BoE planned to use real-time traffic data near ports, collected from Google Maps, to get a sense of disruption.

Even before Britain left the EU, the data showed roads were close to capacity on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings before school holidays, as well as at Easter.

“A disruptive Brexit would potentially have pushed these needles off the Richter scale,” Haldane said in a speech at the University of Sheffield.

He added that he hoped such analysis - and other more granular, local data - could be used more generally to help assess the strength of the economy.

The BoE has previously said that cutting interest rates might not be the right response if supply shortages - for example, those caused by new customs checks - were the cause of a slowdown in the economy, rather than a simple fall in demand.

Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by William Schomberg

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