A sketch based on pride, prejudice, assumptions, speculation, incomplete information, wild data and carried off with unsubstantiated assertions of professional expertise.
No different from its subject, then, the Office of Budget Responsibility. Its senior management were up before the Treasury select committee to discuss their response to the Autumn Statement.
At the table three economists.
In medieval times they’d have been consumed by burning faggots. Now they are employed by the Treasury to say things John Dee would have thought far-fetched.
For one thing, they have a description, or forecast or projection of the economy 50 years hence.
The gluteal mass on which you sit, reader, knows as much about our 50-year future as the OBR. That is the only absolutely true and useful fact in this sketch.
Some committee members wanted the OBR to talk about the dangers, difficulties and desirability of a fast growth in house prices. Mark Garnier asked the OBR’s Robert Chote if he had a view on what the ratio of household debt to income should be.
Chote: (Pertly). No. (Pause for laughter. It didn’t come.) If you have an increasing housing market. More transactions. More expensive houses, you’ll see a debt-to-income ratio rising as a consequence of that. You won’t necessarily be seeing a big change in the household net asset. Which we haven’t.
Please note the lack of answer in that reply, rendered verbatim.