Sluggish Scotland

  • 22 March 2017
  • From the section Scotland
welder Image copyright Getty Images

It's been a rough 10 years for the Scottish economy, as it has with others across Europe and beyond. Looking back to spring 2007, there has been growth of only 7%. That averages only 0.7% per year.

When you factor in the growing population, which helps drive growth, you find Gross Domestic Product (GDP, the measure of economic output) is just 2% higher per head than it was 10 years ago. That's just the average. Many households are significantly worse off.

With wage inflation now at the same level as price inflation, 2.3%, we are (again, on average) expected to get worse off again, in terms of reduced spending power. That's if we're not already doing so.

This sluggish decade is highlighted in the latest look back and look ahead by the Fraser of Allander Institute at Strathclyde University.

It's not a good reflection for the 10th anniversary of SNP in government, which it reaches in about six weeks - not when The Purpose around which the first administration was based, with a capital 'P', was to boost the growth rate.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The report suggests the offshore energy downturn cannot be the only explanation for slower growth in Scotland

Read full article Sluggish Scotland

Indyref and oil: going with the flow

  • 20 March 2017
  • From the section Scotland
Old installations and sunset Image copyright Getty Images

For the oil industry, the good news is that the price has been relatively stable for more than three months. Not so good is the trending down towards $50 per barrel in recent days. The OPEC cartel agreement to rein back production, struck in November, has been looking shoogly of late.

Judging by the public pronouncements of industry majors in recent months, a corner may have been turned. Most companies - 99 out of 119 - expect to increase their capital spending this year, after slashing it in the past two years.

Read full article Indyref and oil: going with the flow

Budget 2017: oiling the investment pipeline

  • 8 March 2017
  • From the section Scotland
Gas flare Image copyright Thinkstock

This is the last spring Budget, or so Mr Hammond tells us. So goes the tradition of springing a bunch of surprises on businesses and household budget planners, with less than a month before they're implemented.

It may be a parliamentary tradition, but it's not been a very clever one, at least in the modern era. An autumn Budget makes more sense in allowing more planning time, not least for devolved administrations.

Read full article Budget 2017: oiling the investment pipeline

SL-AAM Dunk: Raising the Aberdeen Standard and the £5.5m job share

  • 6 March 2017
  • From the section Scotland
Martin Gilbert, Aberdeen Asset Management (L) and Keith Skeoch, Standard Life Image copyright Graham Flack/Standard Life
Image caption Martin Gilbert, from Aberdeen Asset Management (L) and Keith Skeoch, from Standard Life

On Saturday, it began with a media leak. Then confirmation that talks were under way. Monday morning brought the announcement that the deal has been done, and it is now being recommended to shareholders.

Standard Life, based in Edinburgh, and Aberdeen Asset Management, the second biggest Scottish fund manager, are on the way to merger. This is a big deal for the companies, and for the Scottish economy.

Read full article SL-AAM Dunk: Raising the Aberdeen Standard and the £5.5m job share

What is behind fund manager merger talks?

  • 4 March 2017
  • From the section Scotland
Edinburgh
Image caption Edinburgh is one of Europe's main asset management centres

The quiet but very powerful end of finance sees assets being managed across portfolios of equities, bonds and property.

Scotland has built up a specialism in that, with Edinburgh one of Europe's main asset management centres.

Read full article What is behind fund manager merger talks?

Cutting air tax: buckle up

  • 3 March 2017
  • From the section Scotland
Aircraft taking off in front of airport hall Image copyright Thinkstock

Scottish government plans to cut Air Passenger Duty have hit mid-flight turbulence.

Finance secretary Derek Mackay has been told to re-think his navigation before he can land the legislation safely.

Read full article Cutting air tax: buckle up

The news news: breaking, making or faking it?

  • 25 February 2017
  • From the section Scotland
Stack of newspapers Image copyright Thinkstock

"Navel-gazing - readers don't care": with that, coverage of and by the news media tends to be dismissed from editorial conference meetings.

Newspapers used to take a chunk of page two for the editor to trumpet the (sometimes selective use of) circulation figures, and "how much better we've been selling than our down-market, parochial rival rag" - or similar.

Read full article The news news: breaking, making or faking it?

Royal Familiar

  • 24 February 2017
  • From the section Scotland
RBS logo Image copyright RBS

Let's start with the good news about RBS. Don't worry. This won't take long.

Er, it's not doing too badly at its drive to get more women into senior executive roles.

Read full article Royal Familiar

Economy report: Could do better

  • 21 February 2017
  • From the section Scotland
Jobcentre Image copyright PA

At times of uncertainty about the economic direction of travel, it can help to take one's bearings.

That's not always easy for those watching the Scottish economy. The data available is either not that plentiful or not wholly reliable.

Read full article Economy report: Could do better

Cage fighting

  • 14 February 2017
  • From the section Scotland
Farmed salmon Image copyright AFP

It's half a century since salmon farming began, with the pioneers in Scotland and Norway.

The first harvest, from Marine Harvest - then a branch of Unilever - was 15 tonnes hauled from Lochailort in Lochaber.

Read full article Cage fighting