I DON'T KNOW why I am constantly fascinated by televised weather reports. I'll sit through an entire local news program to get one. By the time it has come and gone, my ears are apparently so numb I don't know what I just heard.

The economic news, especially out of Washington, is often just as foggy, confusing, and unpredictable, but it's delivered with a straight face and none of those jokes the weather reporters keep making.

By the end of the 1970s, things got so confusing that instead of the old line about prosperity being around the corner, some government economists (and politicians, who wanted the worst over before the 1980 elections) said rather hopefully that recession was just around the corner! They seemed disappointed that at the beginning of 1980 its arrival was still in doubt.

All this recalled a skit by some British comics who portrayed a group carrying signs declaring that "The End of the World Is at Hand." Their calculations have now shown them that today is the day and the moment is imminent. They greet each other with smiles and warm handshakes and chat enthusiastically as they check their watches. At the proper moment they look aloft for the ultimate catastrophe. As the sun continues to shine, and it becomes apparent that the earth will continue on its way, their smiles fade. When they look downcast and start to shuffle away, a member of the group says brightly, "Never mind, chaps. One of these days we'll have a winner."