Robert Peston, economics editor

Robert Peston Economics editor

Welcome to Peston's Picks - for my latest thoughts on the big economic events around the world making us richer or poorer

Economists can't tell Scots how to vote

16 September 2014
Scotland border sign with flag in background

Here is the bad news if you haven't made up your mind whether to vote for Scotland to become independent - economic analysis cannot give you the answer.

That is partly because this dismal science is not capable of giving wholly (and sometimes even partly) accurate forecasts about the future prosperity of nations.

Look at the case of a comparably sized small country, Ireland. A decade ago many economists (and others) saw it as a rip-roaring success, that had become considerably richer on a per-head basis than the UK.

Then three years ago it looked like a total basket case, as its property sector and banks imploded.

Today it can be seen as a model of how a determined small country can reconstruct its economy in adversity, in stark contrast to the inertia in a bigger country such as Italy.

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How Scotland can avoid a credit crunch

15 September 2014
Saltire

So is Deutsche Bank right that Scotland seceding would have a depressive impact comparable to Britain returning to the Gold Standard in 1925 or the US Federal Reserve failing to pump cash into US banks on the eve of the Great Depression?

No, according to senior bankers - whose institutions will have a decisive influence on the immediate economic and financial costs of Scottish separation.

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What is really driving capital from the UK?

13 September 2014
Mark Carney, Bank of England governor
Mark Carney says the interest rate cycle is on the turn in the UK, which is partly behind capital flowing out

There is something slightly odd about the links being widely made between the large capital outflows from the UK in July and August to fears that Scotland would vote for independence.

At the time, opinion polls and bookies' odds were showing a very high probability of Scots voting to stay in the union. There was no evidence of investors being anxious about Scottish independence then.

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Treasury briefed RBS move before board decision

12 September 2014
RBS cash machines

The Treasury briefed journalists about RBS's intention to relocate to London if Scotland were to go for independence, before RBS's board had formally made the decision to announce the move, I have learned.

In a related development, the First Minister of Scotland has accused the Treasury in a new letter to the Cabinet Secretary of a "politically motivated breach of all accepted protocols on market sensitive information", in the way that it disclosed to the media on Wednesday evening that Royal Bank of Scotland was planning to move its legal home across the border.

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What price Scottish independence?

12 September 2014
Scotch beef with price tag

Some of the fuss and furore about whether prices in an independent Scotland would be higher than in the rest of the UK is bonkers.

When retailers - food and non food - say they might have to push up their prices if Scotland were to introduce higher taxes or rates or if it were to change employment and planning laws, this is simply to remind Scots why they are voting for or against independence.

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Does the Anglicisation of banks matter?

11 September 2014
RBS old HQ in Edinburgh

You might be interested in why so many banks - Lloyds, RBS, Clydesdale, TSB and Tesco Bank - have all said in the past 24 hours that in the event of Scotland voting for independence they would move their legal homes south of the border or create new English companies for some of their operations.

Why have they moved in a sheep-like way in collectively making these disclosures?

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Could the Bank of England become a huge Scottish creditor?

10 September 2014
Mark Carney, Bank of England governor
Mark Carney says that in the period between a vote for independence and Scotland actually becoming an independent nation, the Bank of England will not let any bank get into trouble.

Rather like the Queen, the Governor of the Bank of England does not want to stray into the debate over whether Scotland should opt for independence.

But Mark Carney is not doing quite as good a job of by-standing as Her Majesty.

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Standard Life reacts to possible Scottish independence

10 September 2014
Yes placard, Scottish borders
Standard Life has fleshed out how it will react in the event of a 'Yes' vote for Scottish independence

Standard Life's chief executive, David Nish, has written to the Scottish money manager's customers explaining how it will protect their interests in the event of Scots voting for independence.

He says that it could transfer pensions, investments and other long-term savings held by UK customers to new regulated companies set up in England.

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Could Scotland compete on tax with Westminster?

9 September 2014
Saltire
Questions remain over Tory, Lib Dem and Labour proposals for greater Scottish control over tax

The prime minister last night hosted a party in Downing Street for more than 100 business leaders.

One of his messages was that they should be more conspicuous in selling to the Scottish people the benefits of remaining in the UK - especially the offer made to Scots yesterday by Gordon Brown, on behalf of the three main anti-independence parties, of greater budget-making and other powers for the Scottish parliament.

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No more Scottish bank notes south of the border?

8 September 2014
Scottish notes and pound coins

An economic question that is not momentous, but is nonetheless fascinating (well to me - but that may just be me), is what will happen to existing Scottish bank notes, if Scotland votes for independence.

This is all about one of the eccentricities of the UK's current monetary system, which is that the central bank, the Bank of England, does not have a conventional monopoly on the issuance of bank notes.

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About Robert

Robert has won numerous awards for his journalism, including Journalist of the Year, Specialist Journalist of the Year and Scoop of the Year (twice) from the Royal Television Society, Performer of the Year from the Broadcasting Press Guild, and Broadcaster of the Year and Journalist of the Year from the Wincott Foundation.

Prior to joining the BBC, he was political editor and financial editor of the Financial Times, City Editor of the Sunday Telegraph and a columnist for the New Statesman and Sunday Times.

He broadcast and published a series of influential reports about the causes and consequences of the global financial crisis.

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