Recession rollercoaster: Biggest slump on record for UK

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Media captionWhat is a recession?

Who'd huv thunk it? A recession, you say?

Yes, two consecutive quarters of declining output, according to the Office for National Statistics, confirms what we all knew.

That's not to disparage the statisticians. This is such an exceptional recession that it needs to be enumerated carefully.

The underlying numbers reminded us of some aspects of recession that can get overlooked. They showed, or claimed to show, how much "output" from the health and social care sector dropped during April, May and June.

While some parts of hospitals, some medical teams and care home staff were working flat out, the system as a whole saw a 27% drop in activity.

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Image caption Education saw a 34% fall in "output"

Read full article Recession rollercoaster: Biggest slump on record for UK

The surprise is that more jobs haven't gone

worker during lockdown Image copyright Getty Images

Unemployment up: employment down: with fewer job opportunities, fewer people making themselves available for work.

So, there are no surprises in the labour market figures for April, May and June - the most severe months of lockdown, with some easing in June.

Read full article The surprise is that more jobs haven't gone

More gas, fewer guzzlers

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Image caption Gas is being processed and transported on large vessels

The squealing sound you may be able to hear is from energy suppliers, as their regulator screws down profits with a tighter cap on default prices.

Ofgem says they should pass on an average £84 per year in cuts to their standard variable tariff, which is the limbo where inert customers go, and which used to be highly profitable.

Read full article More gas, fewer guzzlers

Whisky sour and lockdown tumbleweed

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Meet Sir Robert Giffen. Born in Strathaven, Lanarkshire in 1837, he worked in a lawyer's office while taking classes at Glasgow University, striding out on an inky career path with a job on the Stirling Journal.

It was the grounding for a distinguished career in financial journalism in London, in the early days of The Economist. He went on to become one of Britain's foremost statisticians.

Read full article Whisky sour and lockdown tumbleweed

Bus builders: hold very tight, please

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Recessions can usually be expected to weed out the weak. If economics has anything to do with Darwinian behaviour and the survival of the fittest, they are a harsh necessity.

This time looks different. Healthy companies are exposed, where their markets have suddenly disappeared and offer no indication of when demand might return.

Read full article Bus builders: hold very tight, please

Infrastructure: never mind the politicians

Thinking about what Scotland will look like in 30 years time is a tough gig and one, it seems, that should not be entirely trusted to politicians.

The Infrastructure Commission for Scotland (ICS) was created to reach beyond the five-year plans of election cycles, to see what will be required over several decades if the country is to hit its net zero carbon emissions.

Read full article Infrastructure: never mind the politicians

Is it time to rethink the tax system?

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Tax: it's the only certainty other than death, according to Benjamin Franklin. But is it inevitable the tax system stays, at least roughly, the way it is?

It's always in flux - a machine that nobody would have designed from scratch, and which requires endless tinkering to keep it operational.

Read full article Is it time to rethink the tax system?

Scotch whisky caught up in airliners trade war

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Image caption Further tariffs could be imposed on Scotch, salmon and gin next month

While the prime minister touches down in the north of Scotland, one message he's likely to hear is about Scotch whisky.

The industry is getting increasingly concerned about being caught in the crossfire of a trade war with the US over airliners. It's already injured. It could get a lot worse.

Read full article Scotch whisky caught up in airliners trade war

RBS reboot is a crashing symbol

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It's been headquartered in Edinburgh since 1727, but from today, there will no longer be a company called Royal Bank of Scotland plc headquartered in the capital.

If you're a customer, you shouldn't see much change. The name will remain on Scottish branches, on banknotes and on your chequebook, if you still have such a thing.

Read full article RBS reboot is a crashing symbol

Tug of war over post-Brexit internal market

  • 18 July 2020
  • From the section Home
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Image caption The issue of who gets what powers post-Brexit is generating some friction

Boris Johnson made his name as a journalist in Brussels attacking, ridiculing, exaggerating and fabricating stories about the European Commission's efforts to create a single market.

With more than a hint of karma, he's now in a rush to construct one in Britain, giving one month of consultation ahead of legislation. The Europeans have been piecing theirs together for more than 30 years.

Read full article Tug of war over post-Brexit internal market