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Joe Oliver Explains Deficit Forecasting

Photo: Oliver talking with some thirsty guy

(SNN) Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver, spokesman for the Finance Ministers Association of Canada, has agreed to be interviewed about how their members arrive at their forecast numbers regarding territorial, provincial and federal deficits.  Oliver is the group’s secretary-treasurer and bingo committee chairperson.

The FMAC (or F-MAC, as they like to be called) was only recently revealed to be in existence when their association laptop was left in a sleazy motel room and later sold to sketchy media sources for cash in unmarked bills. Recent documents have surfaced that make it appear F-MAC was a thing, even as far back as Sir Mackenzie Bowell’s Ministry in Sir A’s last government and has been kept secret until now.

Sage News: Thanks for the interview.  So how does it work? What market factors go into the country’s finance ministers’ budget deficit forecasts?

Oliver: We don’t find market factors very effective in providing deficit projections.  There are far too many variables at play to come up with anything even remotely close to a popular number. Instead of economics, which is an inexact science, we use a “politically-based” forecasting model where we test the reaction of various deficit amounts on focus groups. The numbers that don’t make the participants weep or otherwise suicidal, form a starting point to our deliberations.

Sage News: So the numbers are just whatever the public will tolerate?

Oliver: Oh no, it’s more complex than that, of course. We also have filters and qualifiers to factor in such aspects as the intelligence of the voters, how many public service unions you can count on to pay for saturation ads, how long until the next election, majority or minority government; those sorts of things.

Sage News: How does the figure you establish relate to the actual deficit numbers?

Oliver: I’m not sure you’re following here. Deficit projections and actual deficit numbers aren’t ever compared publically. We compare the forecasts we said six months ago to the projections we make up today to create an impression we are actually doing something about the deficit. Look at Sousa in Ontario. He just managed to trim $2 billion off his deficit guess by… well… simply changing the guess. Is that brilliant or what?

Sage News: That doesn’t sound very helpful for the taxpayers. What do the other F-MAC members say about that sort of behaviour?

Oliver: Mostly “Attab boy!” Sousa did exactly as his leader ordered and provided numbers in accordance with our political forecasting data results. Isn’t that what he’s supposed to do?

Sage News: It sounds like eventually the leader will get in trouble by following this model of deficit forecasting. Aren’t you concerned about that?

Oliver: Are you kidding?  Once the boss is gone; guess who gets to be the new boss? Do you know how many finance ministers go on to become the leader? I don’t have the exact numbers but I would estimate…

Sage News: That’s okay. We now have a good idea what your estimates are worth.


Unaltered Photo: Some Rights Reserved by Department of Energy and Climate Change Flickr photostream, The Sage nor this article endorsed. The original image can  be located here

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