The Great Debate UK
As we’ve noted extensively, economists often get it wrong. Leaving aside their collective failure to recognise an impending global recession, you might recall a shock interest rate hike from the Bank of England in January 2007.
This was another event that almost every economist polled by Reuters failed to spot, and there are signs that four years on, economists might be setting themselves up for a similar shock.
The consensus from the last Reuters BoE poll last week showed interest rates would stay on hold into the fourth quarter, even though UK money markets have priced in a 100 percent chance of a rate hike by May. Since the January meeting, some of the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee members have publicly stated their determination to fight strong inflation.
But going back to January 2007, the only analyst out of the 50 polled by Reuters who predicted that shock rate hike was Simon Ward, chief economist at Henderson Global Investors. If the MPC does indeed flay analysts’ consensus this year by hiking rates before April, he stands to repeat his 2007 feat by being the only economist in the last poll to forecast a hike in the first quarter.
What do an eight-legged creature in an aquarium in Germany and 74 economists have in common? The consensus view that Spain would claim the World Cup -- until the economists, as they so often do, changed their minds.
If World Cup 2010 goes down as one of the most unpredictable and exciting competitions in recent history, bringing underdogs Holland and Spain to the final showdown, what was hopelessly routine was watching so-called expert opinion converge around the safest bet. At least among financial professionals, who have done so well of late predicting the future.