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Reform Scotland publishes experts’ views in major book on economic outlook

 A book written by some of the country’s leading economists examining in forensic detail Scotland’s financial outlook is published today by the leading independent think tank Reform Scotland. 

Scotland’s Economic Future is edited by the noted economist Professor Sir Donald MacKay, who was an advisor to successive Scottish Secretaries over three decades as well as a consultant to both private and public sector organisations.

His co-editors are the chairman of Reform Scotland Ben Thomson, who is author of one chapter, and the think tank’s director Geoff Mawdsley.

Professor MacKay explains the thinking behind the book: ‘It was thought highly desirable to include a number of authors with established business experience. But all the authors are acknowledged as authorities in their chosen subject areas.

‘Some have been or are members of political parties but for most they have no party allegiance or it is unknown to me. What has mattered is that each author has demonstrated an ability to analyse and report independently on their chosen area and on the evidence.’

This is the second such book which Prof MacKay has edited. He says: ‘In 1977 I edited a book, “Scotland 1980: the Economics of Self Government”, which included contributions by a number of economists. The format adopted here is similar but not identical. For example, in the 1977 publication each author was given a wide subject area to discuss – here, after the introductory chapter, each author was asked a specific question in order to give greater focus to the discussion. The authors have responded admirably to the challenge.’

The professor added: ‘At the time of the 1977 publication it was not certain that devolution would occur (and it didn’t until 22 years later) and, as was stated in that publication, ‘In economic terms devolution was deliberately designed to maintain the status quo.’ So it was and is, but that appears to have been a serious weakness which will be tested in a referendum.

‘The economic arguments have changed very little over time but the political framework has. The referendum will not and should not be decided on economic grounds alone but, as against the 1979 and 1999 referendums, the option or options posed will have important implications for economic policy and that forms the subject matter of this book. So this is an exercise in political economy as befits the country which gave birth to that concept.’

Ben Thomson said: ‘This book examines various issues surrounding Scotland’s economic future and how that relates to the debate surrounding the constitution.  This issue is bound to dominate the next few years leading up to the independence referendum and this is a very important contribution to the debate about Scotland’s future with a cast of distinguished contributors.’

The book’s contributors are:-

  • 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: The 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?