Chancellor George Osborne confirmed yesterday that that the death of Paul the Octopus, known for picking world cup winners, caused the treasury to revise growth forecasts downwards by a half of one percent.
'We'd already crunched half the numbers when Paul died, said Mr Osborne, 'and his successor as treasury advisor brought a new methodology. We over-egged the previous forecast because we couldn't reconcile the two approaches until last week. Still, it's only half a percent.'
Paul was known to be a devotee of von Hayek, but his replacement, Carla the tortoise, appears sympathetic to the Stiglitz school of thought, despite having impeccable right-wing credentials.
The treasury has a long history of using talented pets for financial forecasting. Nicholas Vansittart brandished Billy the Budgerigar aloft in his cage so often that regency wags took to calling the annual ceremony "Budgie day". George Brown used a dog called Churchill who could only say "arr, yes", and in Thatcher's first term Geoffrey Howe deputised to a goldfish named James when out of town.
'Yes, Carla's day rate is expensive, but we've plumped for a tortoise because they last for ages' declared Mr Osbourne. 'We will not adopt the short termist use of hamsters advocated by the opposition, even if they are so cheap they're practically disposable. We have interns for that'