Scotland's ledger lands with a thud

  • 24 August 2016
  • From the section Scotland
Tax form and coins

Fifteen billion quid. It's a very big number. So as the deficit calculated for government spending on and in Scotland last year, rounded up a bit, does it have much meaning?

Politically, yes. The big figure that leaps out of GERS - Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland - fuels the debate about Scotland's constitutional future.

To one side, it makes Scotland's public spending habit look reliant on transfers within the UK. It needs that "pooling and sharing". To the other, it speaks of a failure to get the Scottish economy growing faster, and is a reminder of the failure to put oil revenues aside from the boom years.

While the numbers show how Scotland would have been placed if Alex Salmond had achieved his goal of independence by last March, it is not likely to be the deficit if Scotland were to use its powers over tax, spending and borrowing.

How might things be different with all the levers of economic power located in Edinburgh? That depends on how they're deployed, and whether the levers have the expected effect.

Read full article Scotland's ledger lands with a thud

Economists: Behave yourselves

  • 24 August 2016
  • From the section Scotland
Woman with young children Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption One study found that women return to work on lower pay

I haven't made it to Geneva and the congress this week of the European Economic Association, but I've been following its proceedings at a distance, and on your behalf.

Of the academic papers being presented, several offer insight which complements the startling finding, published on Tuesday by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, about the lower pay rates for mothers returning to work.

Read full article Economists: Behave yourselves

And the Olympic medals champion is... Grenada?

  • 21 August 2016
  • From the section Scotland
India's Sakshi Malik (red) wrestles with Kirghyzstan"s Aisuluu Tynybekova Image copyright AFP

I'm feeling a bit hazy. I was up late, watching two men standing on one foot while deploying the other in an effort to kick each other's heads.

No, this wasn't Sauchiehall Street. It was taekwondo, on the telly. I have no idea of the rules or why a Ninja-like manoeuvre in the final second won it for the bloke from Côte d'Ivoire, leaving the British finalist distraught.

Read full article And the Olympic medals champion is... Grenada?

Rebooting the economics of independence

  • 15 August 2016
  • From the section Scotland

The Scottish independence debate is back. For some, it never went away.

The vote on 23 June, for Britain to leave the European Union put independence "on the table", according to Nicola Sturgeon.

Read full article Rebooting the economics of independence

Economy in a hole? Get digging

  • 10 August 2016
  • From the section Scotland
men with shovels Image copyright Thinkstock

Alex Salmond used to be fond of "shovel ready projects". The former premier called for extra capital spending, so that the wielders of shovels could start digging.

His successor doesn't use the imagery of the muscular, barely-skilled construction worker. Perhaps she sees capital investment as a subtler, more skilled line of work.

Read full article Economy in a hole? Get digging

Brexit's bumpy landing

  • 8 August 2016
  • From the section Scotland
UK and EU flags Image copyright AP

We've got more signs, as a new week begins, that the economic outlook in Scotland has worsened.

From the Purchasing Managers Index, compiled by Markit for the Bank of Scotland, there's a dip into contraction territory.

Read full article Brexit's bumpy landing

A glacial gold rush in the glens

  • 4 August 2016
  • From the section Scotland
gold nugget

It weighs ten ounces, it's a pockmarked, dirty, greyish yellow. But to jeweller Sheila Fleet, it's a nugget of history.

The first pour from the first commercial goldmine in Scotland, in a chunk known as a doré, contains at least eight ounces of pure gold.

Read full article A glacial gold rush in the glens

BBC: And now, the News Where You Are

  • 2 August 2016
  • From the section Scotland
Pacific Quay Image copyright Getty Images

The campaign for a Scottish Six began last century. Some reckon that's where it should stay, as broadcast news evolves to become more online and more on-demand.

But politics has become involved, as it has with the future of the BBC charter and funding. So others argue that the case for the Scottish Six is long overdue: if only the BBC would just get on with it.

Read full article BBC: And now, the News Where You Are

Oil industry: lower for longer

  • 31 July 2016
  • From the section Scotland
North Sea oil platform Image copyright BP plc
Image caption The oil and gas sector in the North Sea has suffered due to the global fall in oil prices

You can see the oil industry's woes for yourself, at anchor in the Firth of Forth. Very Large Crude Carriers are parked off the coast of East Lothian until the price rises, full of North Sea oil recently loaded through the Hound Point terminal.

Onshore storage facilities are full. You can see other tankers at rest and laden with the crude stuff off the coasts of Suffolk and Cornwall.

Read full article Oil industry: lower for longer

Ryanair's brace position for a hard Brexit

ryanair airline Image copyright Reuters

"Modest" - not a word you would normally associate with Michael O'Leary of Ryanair. But that's how the chief executive describes his results for April to June, as growth of the airline climbed, albeit slowly.

The guidance is for revenue and profits to keep gaining altitude, with 10% more passengers this year, reaching 117 million over the full year to March 2017. That's eased from 18% passenger growth last year, and it continues to moderate to between 4% and 8% forecast growth over the next eight years.

Read full article Ryanair's brace position for a hard Brexit