Forecasters know: the future can surprise


We cited John Fitzgerald in the very first item we posted on BBB and no doubt you will see his name again from time to time, because he has a certain ability – practically unique among economists – to talk like an ordinary human being. His musings in today’s Irish Times article verge on the philosophical as he warns us -and forecasters – that forecasters cannot “know” the future.

“Until agreement is reached on what Brexit will actually mean, the repercussions for the Irish economy in the “limbo” period will probably be very limited.However, once Brexit happens, the extensive Brexit-related research for the Irish economy suggests that it will, on balance, have negative consequences.But, there remains the possibility that these negative effects could be offset, at least in part, by significant redirection of foreign investment to Ireland as a result of Brexit. The conclusion I would draw is that we need to plan for a range of economic possibilities arising from Brexit: from the very unfavourable to the mildly positive.”

John has precisely identified the point at which the dismal science collides with common sense.