How do we define the bottom of the curve?

One of the challenging features of this crisis is that traditional economic statistics aren’t the best at tracking the reality of what is going on in the economy at the current time, or getting ahead of understanding the risks facing businesses and employers.


Metrics such as GDP, turnover and the like, track levels of day-to-day activity. And in normal times this makes sense. But in times of crisis, or stress, they fail to capture or monitor the underlying viability of businesses, the risks that they face, or what might happen next. Instead, non-official indicators and – crucially, intelligence and insight from businesses themselves – such as on cashflow, working capital, debt stress, and employment plans, are more accurate and relevant for assessing the real-world challenge facing businesses.

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June 4, 2020

Launch of new Economics Observatory

Today, a new website has been launched – the Economics Observatory (ECO) – that aims to offer insights into the economics of the Covid-19 crisis and the recovery.

The initiative, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), draws on the expertise of economists from over 25 universities and research institutions from across the UK.

You can access the website at the following link –

At the Fraser, we’re delighted to be part of this new exciting initiative. Professor Graeme Roy is a Lead Editor on the project, and Dr Stuart McIntyre a contributing author and editor.

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June 2, 2020

What Coronavirus means for education, childcare and working parents

What Coronavirus means for education, childcare and working parents

00:00 / 49.51

The closure of schools and childcare facilities have meant most parents currently have their children at home. Given the expectation that children won’t return to full time education for some time yet, this raises big questions over the quality of their education and the ability of their parents to juggle children learning from home as well as them being able to continue in paid work. Given previous, entrenched, gender inequalities, this also throws up the risk of reducing the participation of mothers in the labour market further. For lower income families, any loss of earnings could be catastrophic, and many of these parents will face additional challenges in terms of ensuring that their children have a supportive learning environment. This podcast covers many of these themes, with a focus on the experience of parents, particularly mothers, and builds on the themes covered in this report by Jenifer Johnston, one of our participants:

Stuart McIntyre, Head of Research, FAI

Emma Congreve, Knowledge Exchange Fellow, FAI
Jenifer Johnston, Public Affairs Expert
Tanya Wilson, Lecturer in Economics, University of Glasgow

(1:41) Overview of the report (Jenifer)
(3:34) Pre-crisis labour market inequalities and attainment gap and emerging picture (Tanya, Emma)
(11:48) Are there people falling between the cracks? (Jenifer)
(13:20) Discussion around potential for increased inequality (Tanya, Emma)
(21:33) Possible delivery model for education in next few months and implications (Jenifer)
(27:49) Looking ahead: risks, opportunities and policy (Jenifer, Tanya, Emma)
(39:10) Particular issues facing low income families (Emma)
(42:06) Wrap-up and what are the priorities that need addressing (Jenifer, Tanya)

May 29, 2020

Slow and not so sure – the latest data on the Scottish economy and households

As of today (Friday 29th May) Scotland is starting to emerge slowly from its enforced spring hibernation. Whilst easing of the restrictions allowing households to meet at a 2m distance outside will be welcome news for many, we are unlikely to see any immediate big changes in economic indicators. More outdoor work will be allowed with construction allowed to restart site preparation, garden centres will be reopened and we can expect to see more drive through food outlets reopening. However, other business premises are being asked to remain closed.

The fact that England was a couple of weeks earlier to start relaxing restrictions means that wider UK data may give us some indication of what is to come although we should note that, in England, more people have been encouraged back to work than will be the case in Scotland just now. Even so, in England there hasn’t been any sign of a mass ‘return to work’, with the park the only place that people seem to be going to in any great numbers.

There are some, very limited, signs of activity starting to re-start in the UK data. However, it’s clear that expectations for a quick economic recovery are low, and people remain worried about how they will cope financially. This loss of confidence could impact on the economy as well. This will be a slow and uncertain recovery.

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7 key things about key workers in Scotland and what it tells us

The CoVid-19 pandemic has awoken many to the role that key workers play in our society. But who exactly are they, and what do we know about them? This short article provides a summary of analysis carried out using pre-crisis Labour Force Survey data to help give us a basic understanding of this group of workers.

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May 28, 2020