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As I See It

Let’s try celebrating when the economy is growing

Scotland’s economy appears to be booming with output at a three year high, though you’ll struggle to find any politicians ready to celebrate.

Clearly, a growing economy makes it difficult for opposition parties to criticise the government’s record.

It’s also causing a problem for Keith Brown, the Economy Secretary, who ought to be boasting of a run of positive data that even the SNP could not have expected.

Yet he’s also facing a problem, because the SNP’s number one economic tactic is to claim the UK government’s Brexit policy is driving Scotland into an economic catastrophe with the likely loss of 80,000 jobs.

So he concludes his comments on today’s positive figures from the Bank of Scotland by saying “uncertainty continues to cast a shadow over the future economic outlook, threatening jobs, investment and living standards.”

This is plain daft. Look at the numbers, Keith. It ain’t happening. And in any case, “uncertainty” is an almost permanent state of affairs caused by events that are often unpredictable – oil price crashes, terror attacks, currency slumps, natural disasters etc.

What’s more relevant and worth celebrating is the resilience of the economy to everything that is being thrown at it.

The warnings of economic armageddon since the crash 10 years ago show that many of the forecasts of doom and gloom never happened. All the main economies are growing, and China has created a new and massive market.

The FTSE 100, the Dow Jones and Nasdaq stock market indices have hit new records.

There are record numbers in employment in the UK and Scotland, and unemployment is at its lowest since 1975.

Between 2000 and 2016, the total number of private sector enterprises in Scotland has increased by an estimated 46% or 110,440 more businesses.

There are also encouraging signs that the economy in the north east is recovering with a recent return of investors to the oil and property sectors.

Even the banks – which created the financial crash in 2008 – are getting back to health. Lloyds is fully in private hands and making a profit and Royal Bank of Scotland has just reported its best quarter for three years.

Gordon Brown may have promised to abolish boom and bust, but the market always works on cycles.

It is 30 years since the great crash of 1987 and the world got back on its feet pretty quickly leading to the great boom of the Lawson years between 1998 and 1989. Recession in the early 1990s was followed by another boost in output, as indeed the 2000-2003 dotcom slump preceded rapid growth in the run up to the credit crunch in 2007.

Politicians are quick to jump on the media for being “negative”, but it would be heartening to see some smiles around the Holyrood community when the figures are going in the right direction.


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