And now, the Budget where you are

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Image caption Business leaders and politicians are looking to economic forecasters to tell them what lies ahead

Weak growth is getting weaker, dragged down by weak productivity.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has given up on its sunny optimism of returning to Britain's past, modest growth in productivity (output per worker per hour worked).

We're not returning there for now, concede the Responsible Budgeteers. We're stuck somewhere closer to the dismal level of the past ten years.

Why? Maybe because of a lack of business investment. Perhaps it's the price to pay for allowing indebted companies to stay afloat when we should let them collapse.

It may be the price to be paid for having such exceptionally high employment levels - lots of people finding jobs, some of which are high quality and highly productive, but too many of which are neither.

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BiFabulous deal, but what follows?

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Image caption BiFab workers had lobbied the Scottish parliament

It took precisely a week, from the BiFab threat going public to reaching a resolution. The problem leading to the verge of going bust had, of course, been building longer than that.

But between the publicity, the GMB and Unite unions' campaign, and the serving of legal notice of an intention to go into administration, the past week saw the challenge come to a head.

Read full article BiFabulous deal, but what follows?

Energy suppliers: cracking under the pressure

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Foreigners look to Britain to find out how to run an energy market. Or so I was recently told by a very senior figure in the industry.

The market works, he says, except for the failure of many customers to engage with it, and switch to better value supply contracts.

Read full article Energy suppliers: cracking under the pressure

Tax choices: Holyrood comes of age

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Image caption The income tax debate feels like a fork in the road for the Scottish Parliamenr

This might be the week the Scottish Parliament came of age. Eighteen years old, able to drink, drive and fight for its Queen and, er, country, it's spent those years as the recipient of an allowance, with freedom to choose how to spend it.

Now, it has to make its own way in the world, finding its own source of income.

Read full article Tax choices: Holyrood comes of age

North Sea oil: sealing deals

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In the storm-tossed business waters off the coast of Scotland, there's always a deal brewing, or one's just passed by.

Recently, the pace has picked up, as sellers of offshore oil and gas assets - meaning hydrocarbon reserves and the equipment with which to extract them - strike deals with willing buyers.

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Brexit viewed from Brussels (4): Show us the money

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It's a divorce bill, or alimony, or perhaps the severance bill when you leave the club. To President Jean-Claude Juncker, it's like the commitment to stand your round in the pub.

There are various parallels to help explain the bill the United Kingdom leaves as it leaves the European Union. None captures either the complexity or the scale.

Read full article Brexit viewed from Brussels (4): Show us the money

Aged 70, the NHS is creaking

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Audit Scotland has a significant constraint. It is empowered to follow the use of public money, to audit whether it is doing what is expected of it.

That is, it takes government policy, and checks the results against the aspirations. What it does not do is question Scottish government policy. And quite right too.

Read full article Aged 70, the NHS is creaking

Brexit viewed from Brussels (3): Uncle Sam gets nervous

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The voice of business is getting louder and more querulous on the subject of Brexit. We've heard of finance firms, including Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Life Aberdeen, preparing to shift workers out of Britain to be within the European Union in future.

Goldman Sachs' boss tweeted that he expected to spend longer in Frankfurt in the near future.

Read full article Brexit viewed from Brussels (3): Uncle Sam gets nervous

Brexit viewed from Brussels (2): Negotiating for Beginners

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Image caption Theresa May has found a different mood in Brussels

It's taken me a while, but last weekend was my first time in the Channel Tunnel.

For a quarter century, it's been a symbol of island Britain's physical and political connection to the continent.

Read full article Brexit viewed from Brussels (2): Negotiating for Beginners

Brexit viewed from Brussels: The Irish question

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Image caption The Brexit summit is being held in Brussels

The night of the Brexit referendum vote, British officials were warming up a party with a playlist of songs about remaining and working together. It didn't stay warm for long.

By contrast, the Irish had done more homework, campaigning among Irish people with a vote in Britain, and Dublin's officials realised the vote would be close run.

Read full article Brexit viewed from Brussels: The Irish question