Picking winners or backing losers?

  • 23 January 2017
  • From the section Scotland
welder Image copyright Thinkstock

Industrial policy. You can see it as a re-heating of previous policies, and re-branding of existing priorities.

Or you can be more generous to Theresa May and her government, as she and it set out a 12-week consultation, seeing this as a process of asking the most fundamental questions about what kind of country the United Kingdom intends to be.

It's already been widely noted that the prime minister has broken with four decades of Conservative Party orthodoxy in saying that government should not step back.

She says it should step up to support business, at least where business can "self-organise" to lead change.

Robotics

What does that mean? There are choices here. Big choices. Potentially big trade-offs.

Read full article Picking winners or backing losers?

Scotland's economy: Mind the gap

  • 19 January 2017
  • From the section Scotland
Jobcentre Image copyright PA

Grim: the most common word used by those reflecting on the latest Scottish economic data.

The job numbers could be worse, with unemployment on a downward trend, most recently at 5.1%.

Read full article Scotland's economy: Mind the gap

Britain's 'new economic model'

  • 17 January 2017
  • From the section Scotland
Theresa May setting out Brexit plans on 17 January 2017 Image copyright PA

Whether it's clean or hard, Brexit is now taking shape. The prime minister's speech has set out her negotiating position, and probably as much as it could do at this stage. Brexit now has some meaning other than the word "Brexit".

So what does it mean for the economy, and what does business make of it?

Read full article Britain's 'new economic model'

Happier times in Santa's grotto

  • 12 January 2017
  • From the section Scotland
Christmas sale shop sign Image copyright AP

The big retailers - most of them - can breathe a sigh of relief as their Christmas numbers are published. With the exception of Next, which kicked off the festive reporting season, and with some disappointment at John Lewis, things have come in quite nicely.

For Tesco, growth was modest, but at least it's growth. Marks and Spencer has also found some forward momentum with its clothing sales, after at least five years of dismal figures and a perception that its clothing range was in a sort of inevitable decline.

Read full article Happier times in Santa's grotto

Oil prices are on the rise but how far will they go?

  • 11 January 2017
  • From the section Scotland
oil pumps Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Oil production worldwide is predicted to increase

Being upbeat on investment means being downbeat on prices, or at least that's the way it is with the oil industry.

This is basic economics. As the rig count of American production picks up, according to the most recent data published this week, there's an expectation that production will rise, supply increase, and the price subsides.

Read full article Oil prices are on the rise but how far will they go?

2017 headwinds and tales of the unexpected

  • 4 January 2017
  • From the section Scotland
2017 calendar Image copyright Thinkstock

An aged 2016 is drawn by a New Yorker cartoonist, shambling out of what Americans like to call a non-gender-specific comfort station, where a toddler 2017 awaits its turn. "I'd give it a few minutes, kid," says the ol' guy.

Well, we've had a few minutes. The pungent whiff of 2016 is still with us, and 2017 is already shaping up as expected - in that it's going to be full of the unexpected.

Read full article 2017 headwinds and tales of the unexpected

Brexit: shock, inertia, locus and leverage

  • 23 December 2016
  • From the section Scotland
Scotland and EU flags Image copyright AFP

Six months on since the Brexiteers won the referendum on membership of the European Union, and what have we learned? First, that they didn't have a plan.

Nor do they appear to have one now. A report from "The UK in a Changing Europe" academic grouping reflects on where the government was at the height of summer. Stunned by "shock and inertia", they reckon.

Read full article Brexit: shock, inertia, locus and leverage

Holyrood budget: What wasn't in it?

  • 16 December 2016
  • From the section Scotland
Derek Mackay
Image caption Derek Mackay delayed his first draft budget until December to take account of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement

In some speeches, it's what doesn't get said that matters more. And so it was with Derek Mackay's first draft budget as Scotland's finance minister.

What we got was a long list of manifesto commitments being referenced, as you might expect after an election victory - a down-payment on childcare, a direct payment to head teachers, a slight real terms increase for the NHS.

Read full article Holyrood budget: What wasn't in it?

Brexit: Keep Calm and Negotiate

  • 7 December 2016
  • From the section Scotland
Keep calm sticker Image copyright Thinkstock

"Keep calm and negotiate": a Frenchman's play on that most British of slogans.

The over-exposed "keep calm and carry on" poster was intended for distribution if Nazi troops invaded Britain during the Second World War.

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Brexit: The business view from Brussels

  • 5 December 2016
  • From the section Scotland
Brussels Image copyright Thinkstock

Europe's politicians can huff and puff. They can repeat the Brexit campaign's dire warnings about the cost of breaking up trade relations.

But when it comes down to it, the business preference for a soft deal will prevail over a hard Brexit, right?

Read full article Brexit: The business view from Brussels