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:
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.