Forecasting ‘in crisis’ on Brexit

forecast crisis

Economic forecasting “is to some degree in crisis”, the Bank of England’s chief economist has said after it misjudged the fallout from Britain’s vote in favour of Brexit.

Britain’s economy has performed far better than expected since the country voted in June to exit the European Union, although economists are predicting a tougher ride in 2017.

“It is fair cop to say the profession is to some degree in crisis,” Bank of England (BoE) chief economist Andy Haldane told an event hosted by think-tank Institute for Government, according to the Press Association news agency Friday.

The BoE “had foreseen a sharper slowdown in the economy than has happened — in common with every other, almost every other mainstream macro forecaster”, Haldane added.

He called it “pretty much business as usual” for the UK economy despite warnings from Bank of England governor Mark Carney that the referendum outcome could have caused a recession on businesses delaying investment projects.

“The spending power in people’s pockets was not materially dented during the course of last year,” Haldane said.

Construction output in the UK rose at its fastest pace for nine months in December 2016, even though imported raw material prices have risen, as a result of the drop in sterling caused by the Brexit vote last June.
Construction output in the UK rose at its fastest pace for nine months in December 2016, even though imported raw material prices have risen, as a result of the drop in sterling caused by the Brexit vote last June.
Photo: AFP

But he did not hold back from offering a forecast for the coming year.

“Do we think that (the economic climate) will last? Well there are reasonable grounds I would say, for thinking that this year might be a somewhat more difficult year for the consumer than was last year.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May has given a March deadline for triggering Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty that will formally begin the withdrawal process.

Speaking Thursday, British Finance Minister Philip Hammond said he hoped to maintain strong economic ties with the European Union even if the Brexit negotiations were set to be difficult.

“Of course the negotiations will be tough and they will be complicated,” Hammond told CNBC Arabia television.

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