Saturday 8 October 2016

Brexit Butterflies

A giant butterfly flaps its colourful wings deep in the Amazon jungle and three weeks later it rains over the Amazon distribution depot in Doncaster. To be fair, it was always likely to rain in Doncaster and nobody can trace the origins of the storm back to the butterfly anyway, but it’s a handy little bit of pseudo-scientific fancy to explain cause and effect and unintended consequences. The ripples spread and just as a rumour can ruin a career who knows, a little local vorticity might just beget an Atlantic depression to rival Hurricane Matthew.

In overnight trading in Far Eastern markets on Thursday the pound took a dip and recovered almost immediately. What devilry was this? What hand wrought this alchemy? Could it be a concourse of market-manipulating software confounding human trading? Or maybe it was a panic reaction to the perception of the so-called ‘hard Brexit’ espoused by Mrs May et al? Was it down to the French president’s Dirty Harry routine, threatening the UK with hardball? Or was it none of these things?

Economic experts, in attempting to explain the hiccup yesterday made idiots of themselves by lining up to offer one explanation after another in an authoritative manner, did nothing so much as demonstrate how, while theoretical economics is a perfectly valid study, economic forecasting is simple mountebankery. If, as many continue to believe, there is some wild conspiracy of the elite to yoke the little man to the wheel, surely they could have all huddled together in a smoky room to thrash out the narrative before taking to the news stations and chat rooms. The value of shares in Bacofoil depends in part on the demand for the raw materials for tinfoil hats.

Is it more likely in fact that nobody knows what Brexit will bring, but that the naysayers are so determined an ill wind must blow they will greet every blip, every halting step as proof-positive that the apocalypse is nigh? Only if the UK fails utterly will they be satisfied, which is pretty much the definition of cutting off one’s nose to spite the face. It is quite bizarre that these arbiters of all that is ‘correct’ would want to line up on the side of pessimism and narrow-minded bigotry while claiming the mantle of open-minded free thinkers.

The truth seems to be that Remainers would happily sacrifice all they hold dear, rather than admit that Britain can survive, even thrive, outwith the bounds of a sclerotic, controlling and ruthless bureaucracy. The value of the currency, shares, commodities, property and all that an advanced nation produces should be based on tangible things, not on the whims of markets spooked by prophecy, superstition and plain meddling in things that the meddlers often just don’t fully understand.

Lepidoptera Brexitus - poisonous

If an economist flaps in London the shock waves will be felt around the planet. He may even believe that those effects can be forecast and controlled. But when loose-lipped forecasts of disaster, rather than real trade conditions result in people losing their jobs, towns losing their industries and panics across the markets plunging whole countries into recession it ceases to be a game. Economic doom-mongers peddle a dangerous poison. Maybe it’s time these exotic lepidopterans had their wings clipped.

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