After answering this question, we then ask which probability you attach to each of those scenarios (see Fig. 2). The software we use will carry forward the values given from previous surveys, for example, the expected sales growth rates that you provided in different scenarios. There is no logical requirement for you to offer the same probabilities for each question, as you may have different views about the likelihood of different outcomes occurring. We prefer that you provide us with your best guess of the probability in each category, as long as the probabilities add up to 100.
Why do we ask about expectations in this way rather than asking for a single number? Answers in this ‘likelihood’ format give us information about the range of possibilities as anticipated by you, as well as a sense of how confident you are about the plausibility of those outcomes.
Questions included in other similar surveys ask for an ‘up’/’down’ or ‘stay the same’ prediction, but these have significant limitations. The DMP offers policymakers more detailed information about quantities – how much sales growth is expected to rise or fall – and the degree of uncertainty around those outcomes. Some studies ask only for the ‘middle’ outcome, but this can also be misleading. One company might place equal probability on five possible outcomes, while another company might be very confident about their predictions for their middle scenario and place 100% probability on that outcome. If we only collected the middle outcome, we would misrepresent the views of the first company.
In addition to the regular questions, participants are asked special questions, which so far have mostly concerned Brexit. At the end of each set of questions, there is a box where panel members are invited to leave a comment. You are encouraged to provide any additional information that you feel may help us understand your responses better. Policymakers have relayed to us that they greatly value the opportunity for respondents to provide the reasons for their answers. For example, information on whether a contraction in demand or supply lies behind your response can indicates an expected fall in sales revenue.