Tracking Project Fear - Two months on

A little less than two months after the European referendum, we can start to track the accuracy of the economic forecasts made ahead of the vote. These predictions, made by a wide range of experts in support of membership of the EU, were dubbed “Project Fear” by the Leave campaigners who threw doubt on their accuracy and independence.

FTSE 100
Headline "FTSE 100 could see £350bn wiped off in Brexit aftermath, warns UBS" (Telegraph, 22/06) 
Prediction: 4900 - 5500 (UBS, 22/06)
Actual: 6835 (London Stock Exchange, 24/08)

FTSE 250
Headline (post vote) "Why we should be looking at the FTSE 250 and not the FTSE 100 to gauge the impact of Brexit" (Telegraph, 28/06) 
Prediction: "Stock market crash" (Telegraph Group Business Editor, 26/06)
Actual: 20.4% since (London Stock Exchange, 24/08)

Headline: "IMF says Brexit would trigger UK recession" (Guardian, 18/06) 
Prediction: FY17 Growth -0.8% to 1.4% (IMF, 17/06)
Latest view: FY17 Growth 1.3% (IMF 20/07)

Government Borrowing
Headline: "Brexit Would Push Up Government Borrowing Costs, Treasury Says" (Bloomberg, 23/05) 
Prediction: Premium to rise by up to 1% (Treasury, 24/05)
Actual: 10 year gilt drops to 0.747 - just a fraction above all time low (Thomson Reuters, 13/07)

Retail Sales
Headline "John Lewis bonus fear if Britain leaves the EU: Payouts for its 92,000 staff may fall as Brexit hits confidence" (Thisismoney, 21/05) 
Prediction: Brexit to damage retail (John Lewis, 21/05)
Actual: Retail sales up 1.4% in July (ONS, 18/08)

Headline "Britain to enter recession with 500,000 UK jobs lost if it left EU, new Treasury analysis shows" (, 23/05) 
Prediction: 500,000 job losses within a year (Treasury, 23/05)
Actual: Unemployment dropped by 8,600 (ONS, 17/08)

Headline "George Osborne: vote for Brexit and face £30bn of taxes and spending cuts" (Guardian, 15/06) 
Prediction: Emergency budget (George Osborne, 15/06)
Actual: No emergency budget (Philip Hammond, 14/07)

Food Prices
Headline "EU referendum: HSBC has warned a Brexit will create a labour shortage, ramp up food and retail prices and harm banking industry" (City AM, 24/02) 
Prediction: Food cost inflation (HSBC, 24/02)
Actual: Food prices in biggest fall for a year in June (Nielsen, 06/07)

House prices
Headline "Zoopla's warning over property crash: Website claims house prices could drop by 20% if Britain votes to leave the EU" (Daily Mail, 19/06) 
Prediction: House prices down by 18%-20% (Zoopla, 18/06; George Osborne, 20/05)
Actual: House prices drop 1%, no clear Brexit impact (Countrywide, 22/08)

Headline "Siemens warns 'no upside' in leaving Europe and Brexit could damage investment" (Hull Daily Mail, 13/04) 
Before: "This (Brexit) uncertainty, and threat of increased costs, could make the UK a less attractive place to do business” (Siemens, 13/04)
After: "The Brexit vote will not diminish our commitment to your country" (Siemens, 11/07)

The Pound
Headline "Sterling would fall to parity vs euro after Brexit vote – UBS” (Reuters, 29/02) 
Prediction: 1.0 (UBS, 29/02)
Actual: 1.17 (Bloomberg, 25/08)

There has been some impact on key economic indicators, such as exchange rates, and markets remain volatile and uncertain. However, the emerging evidence does not support a slowdown anywhere near the scale predicted before the referendum. This surely will raise further questions about the impartiality of experts ahead of the vote, and about their role in influencing democratic choice.