Clouded Futures: Economic Barometers and the Making of the Unpredictable Economy

Stefan Schwarzkopf*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Much of what passes as economic knowledge is metaphorical in nature. This study focuses in particular on the meteorological origins of economic metaphors. Once markets became imagined in terms of atmospheric phenomena, economists and financial services providers began to construct instruments, especially forecasting models, which resembled those used in meteorology. These tools allowed them to better mimic their own metaphors. Forecasting-oriented indicators, so-called ‘barometers’, contributed to making the economy readable. Their paradoxical impact, however, was that they also created a concept of economy that offered only one type of future, namely unpredictability. This shows that economic metaphors are ambiguous, and they contribute to conceptualizations of economy that are not fully determined by economics.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEconomy and Society
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)422-442
    Number of pages21
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


    • Atmospheric markets
    • Barometers
    • Prediction
    • Revelation
    • Concealment

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