The Bank of England unveils the results of the annual stress tests of banks' balance sheets later today after the central bank pulled forward the publication date by one week.

This was done to include the results as part of the Bank of England's analysis of the effects of the Brexit withdrawal agreement on the UK economy.

A separate British Government report is also set to be published this morning on the economic impact of Brexit.


EY's Chief Economist for Ireland Neil Gibson said the stress tests, which were brought in on the back of the financial crisis, are run every six months and in the last run of them all of the banks passed.

But, he says "regulations have changed slightly since then, so we can't be assured that we will get the same result.

"Because of the vote next week on the withdrawal agreement, there is much more scrutiny going to be placed on these results than there has been previously and we can't read into the fact that they all passed in the last set that they will again."

Mr Gibson pointed out that the stress tests are very extreme, but that if any lender were to fail this time around "that would have quite a significant impact just given the sensitivity and fragility of markets and the responses to the current very sensitive nature of the negotiations.

One of the scenarios in the stress tests assumes a 2.4% contraction of the world economy, a rise in UK unemployment to 9.5%, and a one-third drop in British house prices.

EY's Chief Economist for Ireland says that while banks may be able to sustain these hits, the wider impact on the British economy would be "hugely damaging".

He added: "What you might find is a greater concentration on something like the house-price fall, because that's a much more understandable of relatable potential impact to the average citizen.

"GDP numbers and growth figures largely pass over people's heads ... economists talk about them, fixate about them but they really don't land with the public.

"I expect potentially much greater focus on what that consumer impact would be ... and although these test are hypothetical it will be very difficult for people not to assume that what these are is an assessment of what Brexit could mean, although they're not crafted in that way."

This morning British Finance Minister Philip Hammond was speaking ahead of a UK government report on the economic impact of various Brexit scenarios.

He said the analysis will show clearly remaining in the European Union would be a better outcome for the economy, but not by much. 

Mr Gibson said all of the economic analysis from day one has suggested the increasing severity of the exit would increase the damage to the economy "but of course the public who voted in the Brexit referendum really weren't focusing on those particular issues, so the question is whether this would actually make any difference to their mood or the public mood at this point in time".

However, he believes that "certainly the publication of the report will again highlight that a no-deal Brexit would be the most damaging of all and that will certainly be used by Theresa May to say 'well if it isn't this deal that you want, what else is on the table?'.

"So this will certainly get much more publicity and interest than similar reports in the past."