This is the first post in the entire history of this blog that I've ever tagged "economics". The absence is significant rather than incidental. While I have been exposed to micro-economic theory rather more substantially, I don't feel coy about admitting that I have hitherto only entertained profoundly banal views on macro-economic questions and policy. For this, I can partly blame the limits of my legal education and the suspicions of my subsequent sociological one, but like many Scottish nationalists as the referendum approaches, I'm starting to feel the pinch of my inadequacies. One obvious implication of this is that my political nationalism is not driven by apprehensions of economic circumstance and possibility, but I accept without reserve that it is vital that supporters of independence are able to be literate exponents and critics of economic claims, if the Scottish people are to deliberate meaningfully on the nation's future.
In this sense of inadequacy, I strongly suspect that I am not alone in the broadly pro-independence body of opinion. It is timely, then, that Reform Scotland have published a book edited by Professor John Kay on Scotland's Economic Future. While I haven't yet gnawed my way through the whole thing, I've found the first half to be intelligibly composed and already feel a mite better-primed for conversations with folk I encounter around Oxford, making more-or-less fair points about the economic possibilities and challenges facing an independent Scotland, or Scotland-within-the-Union. I did enjoy a partisan chortle at this barbed footnote from Professor David Simpson's piece:
"It was suggested by the Brown Government that Scotland should be grateful to it for having provided RBS and HBOS with capital and debt guarantees. This is rather like a driver responsible for a major road accident seeking credit for taking the survivors to hospital."
The other chapters in the book range across a number of topics, including the banking sector, the financial provisions of the Scotland Bill, the underpinnings of the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland reports, including...
- Professor Sir Donald Mackay: The framework, the authors and Home Rule
- Professor John Kay: Is recent economic history a help?
- Professor David Simpson: An environment for economic growth: is small still beautiful?
- Jim and Margaret Cuthbert: GERS: where now?
- Professor Drew Scott: Scotland Bill: way forward or cul-de- sac?
- Professor David Bell: The Scottish economy: seeking an advantage?
- Professor Andrew Hughes Hallett: Optimal monetary arrangements for Scotland: adopt which money and why?
- Professor John Kay: What future for Scottish banking?
- Keith Skeoch: The Scottish financial services sector after the global financial crisis: Celtic eagle, sparrow, lion or hare?
- Professor Alex Kemp: The great North Sea oil saga: all done or still unfinished?
- Ben Thomson: Is there a need for a Scottish Exchequer?
- Professor Sir Donald MacKay: What does Home Rule mean for economic policy?
Full text: Scotland's Economic Future.