Episode #19: Why do the experts keep getting it wrong?    

The Green Room by Deloitte podcast

Back in 2016, economists said Brexit was unlikely to happen and the media reported that Hillary Clinton was a safe bet for the US presidency. Since then, it’s fair to say that world events have taken an unexpected turn. But why didn’t we see it coming? Did the experts really get it wrong or are we being unfair? In an ever evolving business and economic landscape, is certainty now a thing of the past? Is there any point in making predictions at all?

How do economists keep track of everything? Should we trust their forecasts? Why do they matter to us? And what role does the media play in all this? With the rise of fake news, how do journalists verify the accuracy of what they report? Are they really responsible for getting it right?

This week George and Lizzie are joined by leading business journalist, James Ashton, and Deloitte’s chief economist, Ian Stewart, to find the answer to our latest big question: why do the experts keep getting it wrong?

Tune in to find out:

  • Economists just want to be popular
  • Ian thinks forecasts are an expression of hope
  • George reads a lot of children’s literature 
  • We’re all swimming in a river of fake news

One of the essential characteristics of human existence is uncertainty, and our desire to manage and master it. Forecasts are a way of trying to do that. – Ian Stewart


Ian Stewart
Chief UK Economist

Ian Stewart is a Partner and Chief Economist at Deloitte where he advises Boards and companies on macroeconomics. Ian devised the Deloitte Survey of Chief Financial Officers and writes a popular weekly economics blog, the Monday Briefing.

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James Ashton

James is a financial journalist and conference host who writes and speaks about the economy, business, leadership and technology. He was previously City Editor and Executive Editor of the Evening Standard and Independent. Before that, he was City Editor at the Sunday Times. He is now freelance and writes columns and interviews for several national newspapers. He also hosts his own podcast, Leading with James Ashton which features CEOs from a range of organisations including the Crown Estate, Parkrun, British Swimming, O2 and the RPSB discussing how they learnt to lead.

Find out more

Interested in any of the topics we talked about during this episode? You might find the links below useful.

  • The CFOs have spoken – our most recent CFO survey, found business leaders are feeling the pressure from a prolonged period of uncertainty. Find out more and stay tuned for the next edition in January.
  • Liven up a Monday with Ian Stewart’s Monday Morning briefing, a succinct and eclectic weekly take on economics and finance.
  • Tune in to LEADING with James Ashton, a podcast which brings together people from very different organisations he worlds of business, charity, the arts and beyond to discuss their take on leading vital causes. David Sproul features on the very first episode!
  • The BBC asks why economists get things wrong, what motivates us and the lowdown on taxes and trade.
  • Researchers at the University College Dublin found evidence to suggest that experts are more likely to make mistakes about their specialist subject because knowing a lot about something doubles the risk of false memories, scientists have found.
  • Forbes looks at the Confidence Trap and explores why so many of our assumptions are based on poor foundations because we believe everything we’re told by ‘experts’ who exude confidence.
  • Why are humans so bad at predicting the future? – Quartz breaks down some of the main problems with predictions in a simple, easy to read format.

The Green Room by Deloitte podcast

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