The Things Economists Know… And Don’t Know About Brexit

Although economists had been working on the Treasury document for a long time, that doesn’t mean that what they have produced is of serious value, Bootle says.

by Roger Bootle

Last week we were treated to a fine exhibition of the economist’s art. I refer to the Treasury study of the economic impact of Brexit, which told us that in 15 years’ time, on a central view, the average British household would be worse off by £4,300 a year. This episode has prompted me to think about what it is that economists know – and what they don’t.

It is clear that economists’ prognostications have, at best, a mixed record. Not only can economists not reliably tell you what GDP is going to be in two or three years’ time but, as a group, they seem pretty bad at anticipating major developments. Although some economists did foresee the financial crisis, as a whole they did not. Nor did most foresee the emergence of a zero inflation/deflation world.

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