Recently, the forecasting record of the Economists for Free Trade has come under fire in the FT from Chris Giles (‘Growth and Brexit- four lessons’), with the assertion that it has been worse than that of the consensus of economists; and also no better absolutely than the Treasury before the referendum. We were ‘badly overoptimistic’, while the Treasury was ‘badly over-pessimistic’ but ‘we both had a referendum to win’. Furthermore ‘our record had got steadily worse over 2016 and 2017’, on the basis of our forecasts immediately after the referendum in July 2016.
Since the FT has not had the good grace even to publish so much as a morsel of my response to their criticism in their letters column, I shall set it out in detail here. This, of course is consistent with the FT having refused to publish a single OpEd from us since the beginning of the referendum campaign.
Chris Giles’ line of argument is complete and indeed irresponsible nonsense, even on provisional ONS estimates, which look as if they will be revised upwards. The ONS recently has admitted to underestimating telecoms productivity growth and also the growth of exports. The latest GDP estimate for the first quarter has been bedevilled by terrible weather. We shall see how big the revisions are when the statistical fog clears in a year or three. What is undeniable and worrying is the flawed and downward-biased pessimism of the official and corporate economist consensus, which Chris Giles for some extraordinary reason is determined to defend. It really does seem that Brexit has warped the minds of many otherwise sane economists.
To read Patrick Minford’s piece for BrexitCentral in full, click here.