Outgoing BBC Economics Editor and former Observer Political Editor, Kamal Ahmed, emailed all BBC correspondents last week to encourage them to report contentious Treasury and Bank of England forecasts as definitive. The email, leaked to Guido, states with confidence that economically, Brexit is “a bit rubbish.”
“On the Brexit economic forecasts if we leave the impression “well it might be right, it might be wrong” we would be doing a disservice to our audiences. On economics (and of course there are many other ways to judge Brexit, politically, culturally) the evidence from expert modellers who know what they are talking about (unlike many non-economist politicians) is clear – it’s a bit rubbish.”
Ignoring other expert analysis and the glaring truth that the pre-referendum forecasts were wrong, not a little wrong, not a rounding error wrong, not within the fan tail, not within the margin of error, just completely wrong. Predictions of recession, surging unemployment and collapsing inward investment, all turned out to be totally wrong. The economy grew, employment increased, inward investment grew. Ahmed makes a half-baked defence of the half-baked predictions in the run up to the referendum. The experts – including the BBC – were quite simply very wrong about the future direction of the economy.
“Forecasts by their nature are not “wrong”. If you had two dice, a forecast central tendency on the most likely number thrown would be 7. If you threw a 12 it would not make the forecast wrong, just an outlying possibility had come to pass. “12” is on the distribution.”
The “distribution” will, on past performance, have to be much wider than it was in 2016 if they want to cover the right outcome. In reality most viewers will take the forecast central tendency as the forecast. Kamal, who is being promoted to become the BBC’s Editorial Director, should know that and the BBC should qualify it’s reports “well it might be right, it might be wrong” because that’s the truth about forecasts.
Read his full letter below…