The weather. QE. How can clever people be so wrong?

As The Telegraph reported, in March the Met Office “slightly favoured drier than average conditions for April-May-June”. Yet we’ve had more rain than since records began. How could clever people be so wrong?

Famously, the climate is a complex system. The usual example of how small changes in initial conditions can lead to large changes later is the theoretical hurricane caused by a butterfly flapping its wings. Complex systems can appear chaotic: the way they develop is so sensitive to their every detail that they appear unpredictable.

Perhaps the meteorologist’s task is occasionally futile: maybe they are so often wrong because they are trying to make predictions that simply cannot be made reliably. Apparently, the numerical models used by the Met Office are the same as the ones used for climate prediction.

Turning to economists, yesterday the Bank of England decided to add another £50 billion to the economy by buying bonds. These would be the same economists who didn’t see the crisis coming and then failed to foresee the general pattern of events. Again, they are trying the same thing, hoping for different results. Is it madness?

Between 1997 and 2010, the M4 money supply tripled in an accelerating rush to crisis:

Click for M4 money supply chart

And now we are asked to believe that adding yet more money to the economy will get things going. It may, briefly, but when economic activity is based on increasing the money supply, it can last only so long as the money supply keeps increasing or perhaps only so long as it keeps accelerating. We’re already at the end of that road.

Economists and meteorologists have some things in common. They are trying to make predictions about the behaviour of complex systems. Their predictions are often wrong. Both groups urge or apply massive interventions in society. As I make my my way around Wycombe in the rain again today, after yet another round of QE, I wonder if it might be time for the people’s elected representatives to stand up to our well-intentioned technocratic elites on the authority of our own intelligence.

Tags: , , , , ,

Comments & Responses

2 Responses so far.

  1. Nick says:

    Just like MPs.

    e.g. Government debt is only 1100 bn.

    “slightly favoured drier than average conditions for April-May-June”.

    No difference. Both aren’t true.

    So come on. How can you expect to control anything, when you are hiding the debts off the books?

    The consequences are pretty clear. Large swathes of the UK are going to depend on you for your retirement. However you do not record what you owe them. The reason being you can’t afford to pay it.

    So they are going to be screwed.

    “That’s how it works”.

  2. SP says:

    Not content with manipulating interest rates and the money supply, it seems the government is keen to manipulate the weather … or at least the weather forecast.

    So says Matt Ridley, anyway:

    The Met Office’s track record of short-range (5-day) forecasting is, in my experience, very good and getting better, but its longer-range predictions have often been not just badly wrong, but consistently biased on the warm, dry side

    look at the curriculum vitae of the chairman of the Met Office, Mr Robert Napier. He is also chairman of the Green Fiscal Commission and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, director of the Carbon Disclosure Project, the Alliance of Religions and Conservation and the Climate Group. He is so high up in the church of global warming, he is a carbon cardinal. I am sure he is a man of great integrity, but given this list you have to wonder if one of the organizations he chairs does not occasionally – and perhaps unconsciously – aim to please him with warm long-range forecasts.