Economics affects us all, yet is too often treated as an abstract field fenced in by impenetrable rules
The statistical football of this week was lobbed all the way from Washington. From its US headquarters, the International Monetary Fund predicted the UK would be the worst-performing major economy of the year, and the only one to plunge into recession. The news dominated BBC coverage and Westminster debate for the morning, a useful stick both to poke the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, and to gauge the bleakness of the outlook.
But why? Why a mere prediction, rather than an actual economic fact? Why the IMF’s forecast, when it is usually wrong and there are already plenty of other projections that are, in fact, even more pessimistic? Most important of all, why fixate on GDP when the statistic bears no direct relation to most people’s daily lives, and a recent study funded by the Office for National Statistics showed that more than half of Britons don’t even know what the term means?