A ‘Michael Fish’ moment

Recently, a headline on the BBC News website caught my eye. It referred to the failure of economists and the banking industry to accurately forecast financial crises, so that they were unable to take the appropriate action to protect the money in our pockets. The clever twist of the headline was the connecting of this fubar (technical monetary term) to the meteorological equivalent, way back in 1987, when BBC weather presenter Michael Fish reassured everyone that there wasn’t a hurricane on the way. This was a sub-optimal prediction.

Sadly, since the 2008 financial crisis, most of us have had to endure somewhat straitened times. We all know someone who has lost a job, we may not have had a pay rise for years or a government’s austerity programme may be causing hardship that seems just a bit too unnecessary.

Finance being what it is, not everyone will be suffering, mind. Somewhere, there’ll be a smug so-and-so, cosily reaping the benefits of the profits made from our misfortune, gilt for free and guilt-free. Which proves the old saying “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.”

And that neatly brings us back to matters meteorological.

Thinking about all those little warnings in the small print of the terms and conditions for loans, mortgages, pensions, overdrafts and credit, I wondered whether there was a weather-dependent equivalent?

You know the sort of thing…

  • Past climate is not an indicator of future weather performance.
  • Atmospheric pressure can go down as well as up.
  • Your home may be at risk if you fail to keep up the flood insurance payments on it.

Once I started pondering the mechanisms governing both finance and climate, I realised that there were useful clues hidden away in plenty of clichés, truisms and stereotypical generalisations.

For instance, Scottish folk are reputed to be… er… incredibly thrifty. And, if you’ve ever had the opportunity to visit Scotland, with its wonderful, expensively-expansive vistas, did you happen to experience ‘four seasons in one day’? Not a coincidence, I’d say.

And then there’s the old chestnut of ‘saving for a rainy day’,  the lovechild of Ker-ching and Ker-sploosh, and supposedly a good lucre. Unfortunately, I seem to be having a bit of trouble reconciling my storm clouds with my Pounds sterling.

Well, the Stock Exchange hasn’t yet merged with the Met Office, and the pot of gold at the rainbow’s end is as real as the expectation of a 100% accurate forecast of anything, so I’ll stop counting the hail stones hitting my office window and return to checking my bank statement for little rays of sunshine.