Businesses show increase in confidence for the coming 6 months after a challenging end to 2019

  • The Fraser of Allander Business Monitor is one of the first major surveys of Scottish firms post-election.
  • The figures show that the outlook for business activity, investment and employment are at their highest level since 2014. This follows a challenging end to 2019 for all these indicators.
  • Expectations of growth in the Scottish economy over the next year have also improved, with more firms believing it will be moderate, and less believing it will be weak.

You can read the full Business Monitor here.

Scottish Business Monitor Dashboard

  Q4 2019 3-year average Change over quarter Change over year
FAI Business Activity Index (net % balance*) 5 80 -5 ▼
New Business 2 9 -1 ▼ -8 ▼
Turnover 4 9 -4 ▼ -9 ▼
Costs 63 54  7 ▲ 8 ▲
New Capital Investment -9 -7 -6 ▼ -5 ▼
Export Activity -11 0 -3 ▼ -5 ▼

Our principal indicator of activity – the FAI Business Activity Index – remained unchanged this quarter, and just below its three-year average.

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February 6, 2020

Economic statisticians, irony and Scotland’s latest trade statistics

Economists aren’t known for their sense of humour. Economics statisticians less so.

So it was highly ironic – albeit perhaps not very funny – that just two days before the UK’s departure from the EU, analysts in the Scottish Government published their latest annual account of Scottish exports.

As expected, much of the reaction concentrated on the importance of the EU for Scottish trade.

But the statistics also contain interesting information about the pattern of trade from Scotland more generally.

In this blog, we take a look at a couple of these trends, and notably the importance of manufacturing.

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February 5, 2020

The timing of the Scottish budget 2020/21: implications, uncertainties and risks

So now we know: the UK Budget will be presented on 11 March, having been postponed from its original date of 6 November.

What are the implications for the Scottish budget?

It seems now inevitable that the Scottish budget will have to be published in some form before 11 March.

One option is to seek to finalise all elements of the budget before the UK budget. An alternative, (with the agreement of Parliament) would be to push some final elements of the legislative process back to the second half of March, potentially allowing for last minute adjustments.

Either scenario is undoubtedly sub-optimal for the Scottish Government, Parliament, and a range of other organisations, from local authorities to Revenue Scotland.

But the idea that the Scottish budget can be delayed in full until mid to late March seems unrealistic.

Publishing a Scottish budget before the UK budget does carry uncertainties and risks, however. But what options are open to the Scottish Government to try to mitigate these challenges?Continue reading

January 8, 2020

New labour market data…

New labour market data were out earlier today, covering all the headline estimates for Scotland and the UK.

These showed that the Scottish unemployment rate hit 3.7% in the three months to October 2019, down -0.3% points on the three months before and down -0.1% on a year before.

Meanwhile the employment rate hit 74.5%, down -0.4% points on the three months before and down -0.5% points on a year ago.

In this blog we pull out a few important points from today’s data.

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December 17, 2019