Brexit: bulls, bears and bulldogs


There's a mis-match between Scotland's economic performance so far this year, and the gathering gloom about the potential impact of Brexit.

In 2016, the economy actually contracted, according to official statistics. It wasn't technically a recession, but it was a very poor year.

The start of this year shows a growth spurt, yet other UK indicators through recent months are pointing to a slowdown in confidence, related to inflation and a whole lot of uncertainty.

The Fraser of Allander Institute, at Strathclyde University, has an update today on its regular analysis and forecast, which seeks to figure out how these apparently conflicting trends fit together.

The assessment of the 0.7% growth figure for the first three months of the year, when the expectation was of being at, or close to, zero, brings some health warnings about the numbers.

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Read full article Brexit: bulls, bears and bulldogs

When dough goes sour

Two people working in bakery
Image caption Bakery47 closes for the last time on Sunday, despite huge success

Imagine you have a hobby, a passion, and a dream of making it into a successful business.

Just suppose it happens to blend with a Great British vogue for baking, leavened by a runaway TV success.

Read full article When dough goes sour

You've never had it so good, although..

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Image caption The UK is now effectively at full employment

Scotland has never had it so good. Exceptionally low unemployment. Record high employment. Jobs growth motoring nicely.

Only the south-east and south west regions of England have lower unemployment rates.

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Blowing away costs

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The price of producing offshore wind power has plummeted. How do we know? And why?

Well, widely reported on Monday it is the result of an auction - a reverse auction.

Read full article Blowing away costs

Sturgeon's mid-term reboot

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Things haven't gone as anyone expected for the past few years. For Nicola Sturgeon, a rogue Westminster election knocked the momentum out of her party's dominance and the independence movement.

So 16 months out from her re-election to lead a minority administration, the Programme for Government has the look of a reboot. She's switched off the administration, and switched it back on again, and come up with something that reads like an election manifesto.

Read full article Sturgeon's mid-term reboot

Building a bridge to growth

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Image caption The Queensferry Crossing is opening on Wednesday

With some handy change from two billion quid, we've got ourselves a splendid new piece of architecture.

The Queensferry Crossing is the Firth of Forth's fifth, and its benefit goes well beyond the aesthetic, to be a vital link for the economy.

Read full article Building a bridge to growth

Gers figures: Tax, spend and damned statistics

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Image caption The latest set of Gers figures was published on Wednesday

Like one of those railway or airport departure boards that shoogles furiously and comes to rest on the latest update, so Gers has come round again. And it's not clear the dials have changed all that much.

Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (Gers), for the 24th year, shows us how much tax is thought to have been raised from Scots, how much was spent in Scotland or on behalf of Scots, and how the two compare.

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The Purpose: SNP’s economic record at 10 years

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon Image copyright PA
Image caption The SNP has now been in power for 10 years

It was Friday 4 May 2007, at 5.20pm, when the Scottish parliamentary result for the Highlands and Islands result was finalised. David Thompson filled the last vacant seat. The SNP had one more MSP than Labour.

On that tiny margin, Alex Salmond built a minority administration. Ten years later, and now dominant in Scottish politics, how does the Scottish National Party's economic record look?

Read full article The Purpose: SNP’s economic record at 10 years

Shopping for a 'lifestyle-led experience'

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The numbers are looking up for retail, but for the wrong two reasons. One: inflation has picked up. Two: consumers are borrowing more when, collectively, we are already overstretched.

Mixed news from Scottish retail is that it has had a bad year, compared with the rest of the UK, but a better start to 2017.

Read full article Shopping for a 'lifestyle-led experience'

The election debate we're not having

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The setting: our local burgh hall. The event: six out of eight candidates at a hustings for our four-member council ward.

Over 90 minutes, this was less of a contact sport or debate than a job interview. Some were a lot better prepared than others.

Read full article The election debate we're not having