Scottish productivity statistics – latest update and longer-term trends

Last week, the Scottish Government published updated labour productivity figures up to the third quarter of 2018.

The release was also effectively the first official assessment of Scotland’s international productivity performance up to the end of 2017.

Recall that this was the measure used to assess the ‘Scotland Performs’ target of being in the top quartile of OECD countries for productivity. Recall too that, back in 2007, the Scottish Government’s Economic Strategy set a target to reach this top quartile by 2017.

Last week’s data confirms that this target has been missed. Scotland’s productivity remains around 20% below target.

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February 14, 2019

Scottish Exports: Growth in 2017 but target missed

Today the Scottish Government published Export Statistics Scotland, the key source of information on Scottish exports.

In light of the ongoing Brexit uncertainty and the potential risks to Scottish trade patterns, today’s publication offers some interesting insights into the different markets that Scotland sells to, the sectors that are doing well (and those less so) and Scotland’s export performance over the longer-term.

Headline numbers

International exports from Scotland rose by £1.9 billion – or 6.2% – between 2016 and 2017. Note that this is in nominal terms; in real terms the growth was just 0.5%.

Boosted by the competitive value of the pound and strong growth on the continent in 2017 – where the Euro Area economy grew at its fastest rate since 2007 – the improvement in Scottish exports was driven by a £1.7bn increase in exports to the EU. This was equivalent to a 13.3% rise between 2016 and 2017.

Scotland’s exports to the rest of the UK also increased in 2017, up £2.2 billion (4.6%).

The Scottish Government’s Economic Strategy had a target to grow Scottish international exports by 50% by 2017 (on a 2010 baseline). Despite today’s uplift, the figures confirm that this target has been missed, with international exports up by around 35% since 2010.Continue reading

January 30, 2019

The gains from economic integration: The EU has still a long way to go

David Comerford, Chancellor’s Fellow, Fraser of Allander Institute, Department of Economics, University of Strathclyde

Sevi Rodriguez Mora, Professor of Economics, University of Edinburgh; CEPR Research Fellow

First published on VoxEU.org at: https://voxeu.org/article/gains-economic-integration-eu


Summary

Populists in Europe are contesting the perceived benefits of economic integration between countries. This column uses data on trade frictions to estimate the long-run impact of trade frictions on GDP if countries in Europe were to be more or less integrated. Negative between-country impacts, such as from Brexit or an EU collapse, imply a GDP reduction of between 1-3%. The potential trade benefits of a ‘United States of Europe’, on the other hand, may be an order of magnitude greater for its members.

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January 18, 2019

Latest nowcasts of the Scottish economy

Just before Christmas the latest estimates of GDP growth in Scotland, covering the 3rd quarter of 2018, were released by the Scottish Government.

These data showed that growth in Scotland in Q3 was 0.3%, half the rate of the UK over the same period.

This represented a slowing of growth in Scotland relative to the previous quarter (in which growth was 0.5%).

Our latest nowcast for the Scottish economy covers the final quarter of 2018, and these suggest that growth in 2018 Q4 was 0.36% which, at an annual rate, is 1.46%. This is broadly in line with growth in the previous quarter.

The shape of economic growth in the UK and Scotland in the first three months of 2019 will of course be shaped by preparations for Brexit, and the extent of the resolution of the current uncertainty around Brexit.

Nevertheless we will provide an initial update in early February with our model predictions for growth in Q1 2019.

January 14, 2019

The latest Fraser of Allander Scottish Business Monitor

Yesterday, the latest Scottish Business Monitor (SBM) was published. The survey is supported by Royal Bank of Scotland.

2019 marks the 22nd year the SBM has been run by the Fraser of Allander. The survey provides a snapshot of activity in the Scottish economy well in advance of official data. It also acts as a gauge of future activity levels by monitoring the optimism level of firms.

The latest results

This latest Scottish Business Monitor covers activity up to the end of Q4 2018 and provides expectations to May 2020.

The FAI Business Activity Index sits at +10%. This is above the three year average of +5% but a fall of -6 since last quarter.

This latest data shows that the Scottish economy continued to grow in the final few months of 2018.

Our headline FAI Business Activity Index slipped a little from a net balance of 16% in Q3 to 10% in Q4. Whilst this is above the long-term series average, it is lower than businesses were expecting just three months ago. Small businesses appear to be the most gloomy.

Also of concern is the fact that businesses in Scotland are reporting not just a decline in investment – as has been the case now since early 2017 – but also a modest fall back in export activity.

See the full details of the publication here.

January 11, 2019