Econo-mix metaphors

The Bank of England today cut its growth forecast for 2012 to almost zero, and its governor, Mervyn King, therefore made some comments about the UK economy. To pull together his quotes from the BBC article on this:

The big picture is that output’s been flat for two years…. We are navigating rough waters and storm clouds continue to roll in from the euro area…. Unlike the Olympians who have thrilled us over the past fortnight, our economy has not yet reached full fitness…. It’s a saga that goes on, and on, and on…. There’s still a long way to go.

It’s quite a surprise that Merv didn’t go on to say that ‘we’re sick as a parrot, and our timbers are shivering. The economy is like a tank with no wheels; even though the turret is loaded, we can’t get to the shop to buy strawberries.’

Thankfully, the asininities weren’t reserved only for arguably the most important economist in Britain. The BBC also explained that:

He said that the future was unpredictable, since no-one could predict what would happen in the eurozone crisis, which would have an impact on the UK.

I get it! Finally! Someone explains clearly that things are unpredictable because no-one can predict them! So, conversely, if someone can predict something, it’s probably no longer unpredictable. Is that right? For example, you could predict that economics news will forever be delivered as a slew of disconnected but reassuringly folksy analogy, but you couldn’t predict exactly the shape, size, origin, colour, or other arbitrary properties (dependent on the metaphor in question) of the storm clouds that will come over from the latest crisis, because weather economic forecasting is hard, especially when the jet stream is determined to ruin your economy. Summer. Chances of Olympic gold. Whatever.

Back to the Beeb:

The pound jumped in value to 1.27 euros on the money markets following Sir Mervyn’s comments.

The temperature in Weymouth changed too, but reporters stopped short of noting everything else that happened shortly after King’s chat because correlation and causation aren’t the same thing. But, even suspending scepticism for a moment, is the narrative being entertained here that ‘the markets’ are now confident that at least Merv knows about the storm clouds—which he has been discussing for years in metaphors as forced as this attempt to add a simile into this parenthetical remark—even if he still doesn’t know what to do about them? Brilliant. At least we know where we are: inside the body of a healing athlete trying to predict when the unpredictable choppy waters will subside. Right?

Written by Tom and Statto

August 8, 2012 at 13:14

Posted in BBC, economics

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