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Wings Over Scotland


The angels’ share

Posted on February 13, 2014 by

The term “angels’ share” comes from the ancient Scottish tradition of Whisky making and refers to the phenomenon of sealing up a volume of whisky in an oak barrel only to find less fluid in the sealed barrel when it’s re-opened. We can only assume that it was a mite confusing to people in the past to have sealed up a resource and find when they opened it back up that it was less than before.

angels

Specifically, it’s the portion of a whisky’s volume that’s lost to evaporation during the ageing process, which is deemed to have been consumed by angels. But there’s a more modern version of the “angels’ share” at play in modern Scotland, and this one’s a celestial snaffling not of whisky, but of Scotland’s money.

To understand what’s going on we need to look at the debt of the UK, how that debt is built up, and how much we’re currently (notionally) liable for.

The UK needs to borrow because it spends more than it receives in tax revenue. To finance this shortfall, the UK government sells bonds, gilts and treasury bills to various types of investors, including private sector institutions such as pension funds, investment trusts and banks.

We know from the GERS report for 2011-12 that the UK’s financial position, including 100% of North Sea revenue, was a deficit of £121 billion (or 7.9% of GDP), and that Scotland’s deficit was £7.6 billion (or 5% of Scottish GDP) including our geographical share of North Sea revenue.

But that’s not the end of the story. Scotland is in fact allocated a share of the UK deficit based on a population percentage (8.4%). This means that in 2011-12, Scotland ran up a £7.6bn deficit but got debited with £10.2bn of the UK deficit onto our debt balance – £2.6bn more than our fair share.

We’ve previously noted this invisible subsidy that Scotland gives to the UK, but there’s more to it. The overall UK government debt stands at a frightening £1.38 trillion as of the end of 2012-13. Scotland’s 8.4% share of this debt comes to £116 billion and would be, we’re told, the liability that Scotland should accept post-independence.

Scotland already pays interest on the 8.4% of UK debt we’re allocated – which according to GERS amounted to just under £4.1bn in debt interest payments for 2011-12 (or 6.3% of Scotland’s entire expenditure). But the really interesting information only comes when you start to look at who that debt is owed to.

Since 2009 the Bank of England has pursued a policy of “quantitative easing” (QE), whereby the bank electronically “prints” money that it then uses to buy UK government gilts and bonds. The UK government now has this newly-created money with which to fund their deficit and pay for public services.

In layman’s terms it’s no different to forging money on a printing press in your shed to supplement your wages, and has become a favourite of not just the current government but the previous Labour administration also. It has allowed the UK Government to raise funds that it would have struggled to raise on the markets, and which it knows it would struggle to pay back.

ilts

Much like forgery, the policy has some major drawbacks, not least of which is that QE is deliberately intended to increase inflation. Anyone who’s seen the increase in the cost of living over the last few years will undoubtedly be worried – especially as wages are struggling to match – but it’s an explicit purpose.

Another drawback is that QE can also devalue the currency and any debt held by investors that is denominated in Sterling. This has the effect of decreasing the purchasing power of the pound relative to foreign currencies – putting up the price of imports and effectively giving everyone in the country a stealth pay cut – in the hope that this leads to reduced cost of exports, boosting the export economy.

However it isn’t any of those effects that interest us today. It’s the fact that the UK Government owes a great deal of debt to the Bank of England, which is in turn owned 100% by the UK government. Crazy as it sounds, it’s a situation whereby the UK government essentially owes ITSELF a sizeable chunk of its own debt.

We know that as of 6 February 2014, the Bank of England owned £375bn of the £1,380bn national debt of the United Kingdom. The entire QE program has been given over to buying UK government gilts, meaning that using the most up-to-date figures the Bank of England holds around 27.2% of UK debt.

From an independence standpoint the effect is startling. Clearly an independent Scotland, denied its share of the Bank of England, would not be liable for debt which the UK owed to itself, making the true debt figure to be split post-independence far lower – £1trn instead of £1.38trn.

This would provide an independent Scotland with a population-based debt share of £84.4bn. Clearly this would make independence a more viable prospect and have far-reaching effects on the finances of an independent Scotland.

In a further twist to the tale, the Treasury has decided to take the accumulated interest payments on the stock of government debt the Bank of England has bought via QE and put it on the government’s books rather than the Bank of England’s. This means that the interest that the UK pays on its debts is paid to the Bank of England, who then in turn credits it back to the Treasury.

Still with us? We’re nearly done.

As we already noted, Scotland paid £4.1bn in interest payments in 2011-12 on the 8.4% share of national debt allocated to us, of which 27.2% was owed to the Bank of England. This means that Scotland has paid around £1.12bn in interest payments to the UK government – essentially acting as an additional stealth tax on Scotland since we, unlike Westminster, don’t then get the money credited back.

Scotland has therefore not only subsidised the rUK by taking on board £2.6bn of debt more than we actually ran up, but we then also paid an additional £1.12bn in interest on debt we owed to ourselves.

As a result of how the Union is financed, Scotland has paid interest on money it owed itself, yet when it comes to look at its accounts that money has disappeared, siphoned off into the Treasury as the UK government’s “angels’ share”.

(And then to add insult to injury, these payments are counted as deficit and used by Unionists as proof we couldn’t afford independence.)

A Yes vote, then, would deliver an “independence dividend” of over a billion pounds a year in interest savings alone, without having to cut a single service. On top of other instant savings like £800m on defence, the £50m annual contribution to running Westminster and only paying our fair share of UK debt rather than £2.6bn extra, Scotland would find itself over £5bn a year better off at the stroke of a pen.

Or, if you prefer, a cross in a box.

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138 to “The angels’ share”

  1. Alan MacD says:

    Outstanding Mr Minto.
    You have a unique way of explaining these things so that even a choob like myself understands.
    I have a feeling that 5 billion is only a percentage of what money we will ‘find’ once independent.

  2. Harry Scott says:

    “From an independence stand point the effect is startling. Clearly an independent Scotland, denied its share of the Bank of England, would not be liable for debt which the UK owed to itself, resulting in the true debt figure that needs to be split post independence being far lower – £1bn instead of £1.38bn.”

    Do you mean 1.38 trillion?

    Also,with no currency union, would RUK have to buy back Scotlands share of the BoE’s reserves (currently 403bn), wiping another 38bn or so from our “fair share”?

  3. Edward says:

    I see Alex Salmond will be a guest on STV’s Scotland Tonight as will Danny Alexander
    If in the same studio at the same time could be quite interesting. Will Danny bottle it?

  4. Alan MacD says:

    Edward;
    Hopefully Big Eck bottles Danny.

  5. Macart says:

    Great dissection Rev.

    Big thanks for the stockpile of new facts. I’m having a bit of chat elsewhere and this is the very job to cap it. 🙂

  6. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Great dissection Rev.”

    “Scott”.

  7. Alastair Darling nowhere to be seen? Demoted.

  8. Paul Kelly says:

    Stu, you have to much time on your hands. When Scotland votes Yes then you will be accredited in my mind the same contribution as Diego Maradonna in the 1986 World Cup. Thank you for Wings Over Scotland, i tune in religiously every day and this referendum wouldn’t have been half as much fun without it.

  9. Macart says:

    Jeez I’ve got so used to passing comment to the Rev (slaps head.

    A big thanks to Scott. 🙂

  10. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Do you mean 1.38 trillion?”

    THAT’S CLEARLY WHAT IT SAID ALL ALONG.

  11. Lindsay says:

    So why are the currency and gilt markets showing no sign, at all, of the predicted “disaster for the £ and UK” if you are correct?

  12. CyberNiall says:

    I actually followed that pretty well. Great post Scott.

  13. NorthBrit says:

    Article from Bloomberg. As close as you will get to objective coverage.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-13/osborne-plays-
    german-card-against-scots-independence.html

    Interesting that no-one believes there is any positive case and bullying is the only hope for No.

  14. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “So why are the currency and gilt markets showing no sign, at all, of the predicted “disaster for the £ and UK” if you are correct?”

    Because Scotland isn’t independent yet, duh.

  15. JLT says:

    Scott,

    Brilliant article. I’ve just been discussing the day’s events with the wife and the possible outcomes.

    Personally, after today, I would say we just put an end to Currency Union.

    From this point on, we teach the people of Scotland what Ireland did once it seceded from Great Britain. For 40 years, Ireland continued to use Sterling before easing into the Punt …and then into the Euro.
    But for 40 years, Ireland used Sterling outside of being in Britian …and it did fine.

    So, my take on todays event is this. Osborne, or rather the Establishment have drawn a line in the sand. So be it.

    Scotland in my view, should continue to use Sterling post Yes win. Do what Ireland did. A Pound in Scotland is still a Pound in England.
    As Scotland settles down into post independent life, it uses Sterling, and while it does so, it quietly debates its options of whether to create a Scottish pound, or possibly joining the Euro (which hey …might be not a bad thing in say 10 years. Sterling might have tanked at this point and is actually quite a poor currency choice!).

    While we head to that future point in time, we take what happened today on the chin. We just bin the Currency Union option. Consign it to history. Just end it! Make that clear to Cameron and Osborne and say ‘so be it’. It’s off the table, even post Yes. It will NEVER rear its head again.

    In the meantime, if I was the Yes campaign, I would have all our economists, archivists, historians who are sympathetic to our cause, and have them tear apart all UK government expenditure for the last 40 years.
    I would be looking for discrepancies. So, if Scotland has been conned out of EU rebates (for farmers) year upon year and we never received a penny, then we put that into our ‘Grievance Pot’. We do the same with oil. Where were we lied and deceived, we add that to the ‘Grievance Pot’.

    Once done …we add on interest to the sum in the ‘Grievance Pot’, and then we deduct that figure from the so called £150 Billion debt that we are due to pay in 2016.

    Now, I don’t care if it drops from £150 Billion to 90, 70, 40 or 20. But at the end of the day …that is what we are due to pay on the debt. WE HONOUR THE DEBT! We show the world exactly how noble and honourable the Scots are. It’s good for business!

    Now, Osborne called this. He made it clear, so he can’t bloody moan! He says we can’t have our cake and eat it, but at the same time, we must make it clear to him, that he can’t have his.

    So …say in the end, Scotland only has to pay back £40 billion, then the Yes campaign hits Osborne with that. Osborne can whine, greet and howl as much as he wants, but he called this tune today. The Yes campaign offered reasonable dialogue. They ignored us for a year. Then today, we were threatened. This is a case of the bullying husband gripping the wife by the throat and telling her that we do things his way. That is what Osborne did to Scotland today!

    Well personally ‘…we dinnae dae things your way, George!’

    So, for me, I would hit him with a new figure, and not one of £150 Billion. If he wants, we can discuss it in an international court in the UN. I’m sure the establishment will most delighted in having to open their books for everyone to see. Lets see the dark secrets and lies.

    At the end of the day. We have received no new powers for Scotland from Better Together. Today, we got a threat.
    The people of Scotland need to waken up and realise that fact.
    George made it clear today. Vote ‘No’, and yes, you get to keep the Pound, but then you won’t get the Governments you voted for, and you will be hammered …HAMMERED for the next 50 years with austerity measures, wars, out of the EU, and anything else that Westminster wants to impose on Scotland.

    I really hope the Yes campaign come out fighting over this. I would say they now need a Plan B. But Plan B is using Sterling, with one eye on a future alternative currency, and they kick George Osborne in the ‘Ed Balls’ by hitting him with a much lower figure than £150 Billion pounds.

  16. Piemonteis says:

    Some of the recent articles on Wings of Scotland have been phenomenal in quality. There’s a real range of ideas, opinion and expertise pumped into this site that can’t be found elsewhere. And that’s in addition to the day-to-day myth-busting of the Rev.

    Until now, I’ve been introducing Wings to undecideds later on in the process: tempting “No” voters with articles (largely ones I’ve discovered on Wings) from more neutral commentators, e.g. the McCrone Report; before introducing them to milder pro-indy sites such as Business for Scotland when they start to show an interest; and finally hitting them with Wings as they start swaying towards yes. However, I think I’ll start using this site as steps 1, 2 and 3, because the arguments being thrown forward recently have been nothing short of definitive.

    A huge thank you to the Rev, Scott and all contributors and commenters on the site!

  17. Norrie says:

    NorthBrit

    Link does not work.

  18. birnie says:

    Well worth reading several times until you get the hang of it. Proof more than positive that Westminster harbours fraudsters and thieves. Any ordinary businessman would be bankrupted and jailed for such embezzlement. Regardless of whether or not accommodation over currency can be reached, Scotland MUST break free from London if we want to survive, let alone prosper!

  19. ronnie anderson says:

    Awe am doon crest fawing,Gidion snub,s Berard Ponsyberry / STV , nae interview fur the NO broadcasters station, he must be saving the interview fur the Bbc.

    To Bernards credit he did say that they have broken the Edinburgh agreement.

  20. Arbroath 1320 says:

    Excellent article Scott, now if only I can get my solitary brain cell round these facts! 😉

    Think it’s time I visited the “Darkened room” 🙂

  21. drygrangebull says:

    pulled this from the L.A times from grandcm…I liked it

    The relationship between Scotland and England has always been a thorny one every since England bought the vote from the Scottish landowners to unite England and Scotland in 1707 for 50,000+ guineas. Since the common people, the majority, of Scotland weren’t allowed to vote, there has always been a dark shadow cast over the union for centuries.

    England has largely wanted the union to remain because of the oil revenue they get from the North Sea oil in Scotland that was developed decades ago. That and the arrogance of the English that they feel England is Britain and should alwyas have the final say.

    For the record, Scotland’s banks, The Bank of Scotland, The Royal Bank of Scotland and the Clydesdale all print their own money. Which is unique within the four countries that make up Britain (we also have our own legal system which differs somewhat from the English system). So the notion that Scotland is solely dependent on the British pound is a misnomer. No one in Scotland is going to be deprived from buying their daily loaf of bread because we don’t have the British pound to rely on.

    Scotland was bought and sold in 1707. We were independent before the greedy minority landowners were paid off. We were independent then and we can be independent now. There maybe a price to pay, but what’s the price for independence

    http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-no-britain-scotland-pound-independence-20140213,0,6871810.story#ixzz2tE6vDkZU

  22. Lindsay says:

    “Because Scotland isn’t independent yet, duh.”

    But markets look ahead. They price in risk.

    If you’re right about the dire effects on the sterling balance of payments of not having a currency zone, then there ought to have been a downtick today in the sterling exchange rate.

    It didn’t happen.

  23. orkers says:

    @Lindsay

    Financial Tsunamis take longer to build.

    The process might take a while to get under way, but once in motion may prove irreversible.

  24. Arbroath 1320 says:

    Lindsay says:

    “Because Scotland isn’t independent yet, duh.”

    But markets look ahead. They price in risk.

    Markets may indeed look ahead Lindsay but I don’t think they look two years ahead. Scotland will not be fully independent until March 2016.

  25. Juteman says:

    Good article Scott.
    Is there an end in sight to the problems with the site?
    I had to click on a link on your twitter thingy to read the comments.

  26. ronnie anderson says:

    @ JTL,My feeling,s exactly, tell them now fuck off, in the most intemperate language possible,

    Scott Minto, I dont know what height you are, but you,ve made me feel ten foot tall. Once again you prove Scot,s are far from stupid,you,ve enriched all of us on this site, & I would hope that the Teckno dept Export , your story far n wide over every medium possible.

    Scott,Rev<Many thanks.

  27. Murray McCallum says:

    Great summary Scott.

    The campaign to stop Scotland being a country running its own affairs want Scots to continue being on the receiving end of this financial abuse. Their union dividend.

    These proud Scots will be needing to dip their hands in our pockets when the London property bubble bursts.

  28. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “If you’re right about the dire effects on the sterling balance of payments of not having a currency zone, then there ought to have been a downtick today in the sterling exchange rate.”

    Nonsense. Nothing happened today, in any meaningful sense.

  29. liz says:

    Just tuning in to see missed posts.

    The CiF comments in the guardian are so full of mis-information.
    Not surprising when you see how convoluted it all is.

    Does this not really confirm that Scotland would be better off out of a currency union?

  30. Andy-B says:

    Good account Scott, of the complete and utter incompetence of the Westminster Governments handling of fiscal affairs, in all honesty we’d better of out of the monetary union.

    O/T I do apologise, just read and heard on the radio, that the MoD want to store nuclear waste from 27 reactors, from various vessels etc, at Chapelcross in Dumfries, surely this cannot be allowed to happen.

    Surely the Scottish Government will step in and put a halt to this where is Patrick Harvie when you need him.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-24852238

  31. Juteman says:

    Aaaaargghhhh!
    Missing comments, no comments… and i’m trying to get used to Windows 8 at the same time!
    I’ll come back in a week. 🙂

  32. Jack Beck says:

    A big hat-tip to Scott for the proper use of the plural possessive apostrophe in the title of the article! Just when many of our regular posters were beginning to get the hang of it, they’re confused again ;0)

  33. @Juteman

    Will there be a window tax in an independent Scotland?

  34. Langspoon says:

    Georgie, porgie, pudding and pie,
    Dissed the jocks and made them cry.
    The cybernats came out to play,
    Georgie, porgie ran away.

  35. Andy-B says:

    I never really understood the, the benefits of gilt edged bonds, you sell,them at a price then guarantee a bumper bonus on top of the original price, thus putting your government deeper into debt. The only thing in their favour is the long term in between selling and redeeming of the bonds.

    I suppose Westminster hope for a more favourable financial climate when they buy them back, its a stop gap and not a proper fix, no wonder their over a trillion quid in debt.

  36. heedtracker says:

    “As a result of how the Union is financed, Scotland has paid interest on money it owed itself, yet when it comes to look at its accounts at a later date that money has disappeared.”

    Sums it all up really. No wonder this kleptocracy don’t want currency union with iScotland. This is probably why they dodge the euro zone like its a contagious disease. Would big EU economies want any involvement with the crooks anyway?

  37. Atypical_Scot says:

    Today is the day of excellent articles.

  38. Seasick Dave says:

    You know they are losing big time when John McTernan gets shunted on to our screens 🙂

  39. Misteralz says:

    Another great article.

    And JLT – I can’t help but think that’s exactly how it’s going to work out. I can’t see it going any other way. We’ll come out of this very well.

  40. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “A big hat-tip to Scott for the proper use of the plural possessive apostrophe in the title of the article! Just when many of our regular posters were beginning to get the hang of it, they’re confused again ;0)”

    That was me. I don’t think I get this joke.

  41. CJ says:

    The bbc just there when talking about Scotland’s possible currency options flashed up an image of riots when mentioning taking on the Euro.
    are the bbc resorting o mind control techniques like in the US where when talking about a politician they flashed up the picture of a rat for a split second then went back to the picture of his face. Crazy days.

  42. Linda's back says:

    I agree with Ed Balls as I want to join the real world as a normal country.

    Like Bernard Ponsonby’s comments about Osborne and other UK ministers refusing to take questions about their assertions.

  43. Misteralz says:

    CJ – Grade is a cunt.

  44. Bill Walters says:

    “Clearly an independent Scotland, denied its share of the Bank of England, would not be liable for debt which the UK owed to itself, resulting in the true debt figure that needs to be split post independence being far lower – £1trn instead of £1.38trn.”

    I think we’re conflating two issues here. There’s the issue of a currency union, in which we would continue to have the Bank of England set our monetary policy and act as lender of last resort. A completely separate issue is ownership of the Bank of England: e.g. whether the Bank of England’s reserves should be shared out proportionally at the point of independence between Scotland and rUK.

    Somewhere along the line these two issues seem to have been muddled to the extent that we’re now arguing that not being in a currency union with the rest of the UK means we have no share of the Bank of England’s reserves. These are actually two completely different issues.

  45. JLT says:

    Misteralz / Ronnie Anderson

    My view on today is that the negotiations have begun. Extreme, but it has started. Now whether the Establishment want to stick with today’s stance …well, we’ll only find that out on the 19th September.

    However, I think the Yes Campaign should cut them off at the pass. If this is what the Establishment want, then so be it. No Currency Union. We never discuss it again. It means that if they come back in the future about possible union, then they have to offer us better terms.

    In the meantime, we bear our own teeth. We show them that we are not quite the small, timid, toothless creature. Even a mouse can give a nippy bite. It’s just where you apply that bite. In this case, in George’s ear. We tell him that Scotland will honour the debt, but not the full £150 Billion. That’s off the table now.

    Instead, we do our homework, and pass George a new cheque, and it won’t be to his liking.

    But hey George, you called the tune. We just changed the beat.

  46. TheGreatBaldo says:

    OT

    Very good balanced (if long) piece on Osbourne breaking the ‘no pre- negotiation’ in the Edinburgh Agreement.

    http://www.futureukandscotland.ac.uk/blog/currency-reflections-legal-issues

  47. Linda's back says:

    CJ

    Not only that but another piece of subliminal propaganda by the BBC when they captioned the for and against arguments of using the pound in an independent Scotland with the heading Poundland which most viewers associate with a cut price budget shop.

  48. James123 says:

    On the issue about a currency union forcing rUK to bail out Scotland in the unlikely event we had a financial meltdown. The UK government contributed billions to the bail out the Irish economy in 2010 without any obligation whatsoever. The reason is because Ireland is a large trading partner with the UK with close banking sector links just as an independent Scotland would have.

    I don’t think for a minute think that iScotland would have any financial issues, but if it did it would be in the best interests of rUK to help us out whether we shared a currency or not.

  49. Indy_Scot says:

    Juteman, if you are finding that Windows 8 is driving you insane I can highly recommend a program called Startisback.

    It basically uses code of Windows 7 to give you back your Start menu. I think it is only a few pounds, but I believe some people have managed to find it free on torrent sites.

  50. Marcia says:

    Nicola Sturgeon gave a talk today at UCL London and you can see the full speech & Q&A. It starts about 6 minutes in.

    http://scotreferendum.com/2014/02/the-case-for-independence/

  51. Schiehallion! Schiehallion! says:

    Ah the wee angels…

    … but does anyone else smell sulphur?

  52. Sandra says:

    Time to look out all my English notes and take them to a Scottish bank to have them changed to Scottish notes

    Really don’t like people who try to blackmail me – so they can have their bank notes back

    maybe we should all do it 🙂

  53. Thepnr says:

    @Lyndsay

    “But markets look ahead. They price in risk.”

    I totally agree and the fact that there was no downtick today (or yesterday) give a clue as to what the markets believe will be the outcome.

    That is that for all the bluster of Osborne, Alexander and Balls. The markets at this stage still believe that there WILL be a currency union. You know what? they are probably right, at least Ladbrokes think so.

  54. Lindsay says:

    “Nonsense. Nothing happened today, in any meaningful sense.”

    Major policy speech by sitting Chancellor, with endorsement by both his major party opposite numbers.

    That is exactly the sort of thing markets pay attention to. Oh, and they look a lot further than 2 years ahead.

    The obvious explanation is that all the stuff about “disaster for the £” is bilge. About as well thought through as the pledge to sell “Scottish Futures Bonds”.

  55. gordoz says:

    Never ceases to surprise, how many Proud Scotchmen career politicians and BBC journo’s love to side with their masters and back up the Westminster view no matter how crass or gung ho. Indeed the glee with which they lob Scots factless assertions and revel in punitive language gets very tiring.

    I trust they are weighing up and measuring their actions as, if the result does not go the way of Westminster their can be no meaningful role within future independent Scottish political life for such betrayal & posturing other than persistant ridicule & mockery.

    As a people they are lost to us and I trust they’ll have the decency to continue their careers down in the sordid corridors of the UK parliament where they seem to be the most at home.

    All the best folks you wont be missed.

  56. Murray McCallum says:

    TheGreatBaldo

    Thanks for posting that article.

    http://www.futureukandscotland.ac.uk/blog/currency-reflections-legal-issues

    Really good read.

  57. Arbroath 1320 says:

    Sorry for being O/T Stu but Nicola Sturgeon has given a speech to the UCL Department of Political Science today.

    http://scotreferendum.com/2014/02/the-case-for-independence/

  58. alexicon says:

    @Lynsay,

    Just watch the markets react closer to the referendum when YES is ahead and they know rUK has to burden all their debt.
    Oh and don’t forget the cost to exports to Scotland.

  59. Tattie-bogle says:

    windows 8.1 is the way to go think its a free upgrade and its as smooth. start button search button and only 2 corners to close down stuff its done the way it should be pretty cool O/S

  60. gerry parker says:

    @ Marcia.
    watched it – it was a cracker!

  61. ronnie anderson says:

    Channel 4 news, come away with the 3 other party, have licenced George Osbourn e to Kill,( 007 theme Tune playing )rite ya bastereds yer fur it noo.

    Mr,Mrs,Banterer,s, unsheath the Skean Dhu,s, they dont like it up em ya no, they dont like it up em.

    Glasga taxi fur Gidion,with the English taxi driver ranting, an dont let him oot the taxi tae ye get tae London.

  62. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Major policy speech by sitting Chancellor, with endorsement by both his major party opposite numbers.”

    All saying what they’ve been saying for months and months.

  63. Clootie says:

    I was in favour of a currency union. I was always concerned that we would be fleeced to some extent by Whitehall but thought it gave a safer transition.

    How wrong was I!

    Although it is unfortunate that we could not part in an amicable the fault is not ours.

    I would be angry now if we agreed to a currency union after a YES vote.

    My only regret is the the good people of rUK will pay the price for the arrogance of Osborne (who will probably make a lot of money for his buddies).

    As for Ed Balls and Danny Alexander – you have just proven how Westminster really works.

  64. Sandra says:

    We tell him that Scotland will honour the debt, but not the full £150 Billion. That’s off the table now.

    Totally agree – I want to know exactly what debt the people of Scotland have run up in the last 30 years

    Is it any where near 150 billion?

  65. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Somewhere along the line these two issues seem to have been muddled to the extent that we’re now arguing that not being in a currency union with the rest of the UK means we have no share of the Bank of England’s reserves.”

    The article has nothing to do with either currency union or division of assets.

  66. faolie says:

    Scott, what a great piece! Need to re-read and simplify a wee bit for onward discussion 😉 but man, it really exposes a few dark secrets that not many people know about.

    As the Rev said earlier, the debt’s the thing. And if we start independence again with no debt whatsoever, or even a wee bit of debt, hey, that’ll be good. And we’ll still have the Pound. It’s Scotland’s Pound, after all, as someone else here said.

  67. Thepnr says:

    @ronnie

    Love your witterings. Yer style is a bit of a cross between McGonagall and Cantona 🙂 🙂

  68. Juteman says:

    Stu, could you please stick a thread up regarding the attacks on the website. I come back after 30 minutes or so, and nobody seems to have posted a comment. I know that can’t be true.

  69. gordoz says:

    @Arbroath 1320

    Great watch of Nicola Sturgeon in fine form at UCL.

    Only spoiler – gues who was not clapping at end :

    Journo – David Torrance .

  70. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Stu, could you please stick a thread up regarding the attacks on the website. I come back after 30 minutes or so, and nobody seems to have posted a comment. I know that can’t be true.”

    There’s still intermittent ad hoc caching going on. It may just be coinciding with your browser’s inbuilt cache to unfortunate effect.

  71. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “I want to know exactly what debt the people of Scotland have run up in the last 30 years”

    It’s zero.

    http://wingsoverscotland.com/massive-oil-leak-discovered/

  72. Paula Rose says:

    O/T I’m using a mac and have no problems with this ddos stuff – are you who are using pc part of the problem?

  73. Marcia says:

    Gerry packer

    I’m glad you enjoyed it

  74. rabb says:

    There’s a picture forming in my mind now as I digest recent events.

    What I’m seeing is a managed demolition of the rUK economy which will take it to the point of complete collapse.

    Why do I think this? Easy, it’s Westminster’s excuse to completely dismantle the welfare state & NHS. Once completed and after the inevitable national crisis it will be resurrected as a US clone.

    It can never be done whilst Scotland remains in the UK with our separate NHS.

    Scotland WILL vote Yes in September, raise our own currency (the idea is already being drip fed to normalise) without taking any debt and the neo-libs in Westminster will progress to the next step of their plan.

    Thoughts anyone?

  75. Juteman says:

    I’m a middle aged manual worker. I have no idea what you just said there Stu.
    I switch computers on and press buttons. Everything else is a mystery.
    The website is almost unusable for me.

  76. Calgacus MacAndrews says:

    Don’t fret about leaving all the debt behind us in rUK.

    That’s the way George and the City of London Banker Class would prefer it.
    Debt is the oxygen that keeps them alive.
    As fast as the debt has soared to the £1.5 trillion or whatever, all of their bonuses and wealth have likewise soared.
    We will do doing THEM a favour to leave it all with rUK.

    That’s why the debt hasn’t gone down on George’s watch, and will never go down (and therefore never get paid off).

    Roll onSeptember 18th …

  77. Juteman says:

    When I visit Wings, I get the Angels Share page with 53 comments every time. I’ve tried clearing everything, but still getting the same result. I’ll try again in the morning.

  78. Thepnr says:

    @john king

    “Ginger Rodent” won’t go down well in Scotland. Now “Ginger Minge” I could be tempted.

  79. Les Wilson says:

    Simple, they are using the American system, cloning it actually. That is exactly what has lead the US to near default. It has narrowly been avoided so far, but some big financial names think it is inevitable.
    The reason is, it is essentially a huge PONZI scheme run by the FED, and it likely to burst before long.

    Same for the UK? Maybe we should seriously think about being attached in any way to Sterling.

  80. Sandra says:

    I have found the data

    Assume Scotland will now be going for option 2 £40.6 billion as opposed to population share

    SHARE doesn’t seem to be a word Osborne likes

    One way to share the debt would be on a population basis. If Scotland assumed a population share of UK public sector net debt in 2017-18, the group estimated it would be worth £126 billion, equivalent to 72% of Scottish GDP. This would be slightly lower than the equivalent UK figure of 77%.

    An alternative way to determine Scotland’s share of UK public sector debt could be to base the calculation on an estimate of Scotland’s previous contributions to the UK’s public finances.

    According to the economists, this would imply that Scotland’s estimated share of UK debt would be worth £40.6 billion. This is equivalent to approximately 27.6% of Scottish GDP (including North Sea oil), lower than the population share calculation.

  81. heraldnomore says:

    Not unexpectedly GMK over at Business for Scotland is bang on the money. Sorry, no links on the gizmo but you know where to find him.

  82. Calgacus MacAndrews says:

    Juteman

    There is obviously still some sort of data buffering problem happening, either as a result of the DDOS attacks, or more likely as an unfortunate consequence of the measures being taken to cope with the attacks.
    I’m sure the Rev is working on this, and we should probably all just bear with it.

    I have had the same thing happen to me.

    I don’t know if it would help, but try closing and restarting your browser, or switching your device on and off (both in the hope that the Wings server then refreshes pages to your device from a different buffer area).

  83. liz says:

    There are intermittent problems due to the DOS attack.

    You can click on the articles that are on the rev’s twitter account or from Peter Bell’s Referendum 2014.

  84. Calgacus MacAndrews says:

    Re the Ginger Rodent beer ..

    If you drink it and look at Danny Alexander you will start seeing subliminal things:-

    Danny – Rat – Danny – Rat – Danny – Rat – Danny

  85. gerry parker says:

    @juteman.
    If you can locate an F5 key on your keyboard, press it while on the wings page.
    If this doesn’t fix it, try holding down the Control key(ctrl) and pressing F5.
    Hope this helps.

  86. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “I’m a middle aged manual worker. I have no idea what you just said there Stu.
    I switch computers on and press buttons. Everything else is a mystery.
    The website is almost unusable for me.”

    There seems to be something unique at your end, then, because nobody else has reported problems on anything like that scale. I don’t know what to tell you 🙁

  87. Lindsay says:

    “All saying what they’ve been saying for months and months.”

    On which planet?

  88. Albalha says:

    Here’s the B for S link

    http://www.businessforscotland.co.uk/no-campaigns-political-posturing-on-currency-lacks-business-sense-and-economic-credibility/

    And Ivan McKee is on Newsnight Scotland good if someone, FMQ unofficial, could record and post?

    Michelle Thomson of B for S included in Allan Little package on main Newsnight as well.

  89. gerry parker says:

    @juteman.
    Should have said, you’ll find the F5 key on the very top row on your keyboard.

  90. Calgacus MacAndrews says:

    If it had been last month everybody could have got round the DDOS issue delays by simply buying a Daily Mail, and catching up on Wings via their series of interesting and informative articles.

    I am assuming the DM circus has moved on by now …

  91. Linda's back says:

    Interesting to read what the European press thinks of Osborne’s threats to the natives of his last colony.

    http://archive.is/sJFbE

  92. Calgacus MacAndrews says:

    Rev,
    Seen your comment re Juteman a few moments ago.
    A couple of nights ago I had exactly what Juteman is describing.
    I had my laptop clearly not refreshing (for 30-40 minutes).
    I used my IPad and got a more advanced version of the page.
    I immediately went and switched on Mrs Calgacus’s laptop, and got what looked like the ‘real’ live view.
    The other two devices still remained ‘stuck’ on the older views, despite pressing the browser refresh button many times.

    Just saying …

  93. Thepnr says:

    @Lindsay

    Please read the link provided by Albalha below your post, I think this might help explain why currency union is still the most likely outcome.

  94. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “The other two devices still remained ‘stuck’ on the older views, despite pressing the browser refresh button many times.”

    Aye. So that’s most likely a local caching issue, nothing to do with us.

  95. CameronB says:

    I’m with JLT @6:10pm and Bill Walters @7:05pm.

    The City of London is a giant debt-squid run by crooks, who do not have Scotland at hart, and who probably display a disproportionately high incidence of psychopathy.

    IMO, Scotland should use Scottish £ notes pegged to Sterling, while we set up a publicly funded National Bank and use fractional reserve banking to multiply our national receipts. Would this not put the rate at which this gearing is set, democratically accountable? I think it would also provide a secure platform from which to launch our own currency.

    As it’s after the 9pm watershed, here’s my take on the independence debate.

    I would be disheartened at how the British state a.k.a. Better Together, have embraced the first opportunity for the people of Scotland to democratically mandate the union, if my resolve was not strengthened.

    Vote YES! for your children and their children.

    Trap Door

  96. mrbfaethedee says:

    Courier running a poll on effect of currency union pronouncements on indy vote.

    Current standing –

    More likely ‘NO’ – 33%
    More likely ‘YES’- 41%
    Unchanged – 26%

  97. Bill Walters says:

    @RevStu “The article has nothing to do with either currency union or division of assets.”

    Then why are we being “denied our share of the Bank of England”? The Bank of England’s reserves are an asset.

  98. I am Eton Man. I look down on them. “They” are the Rest, and the Scots.
    I am the Rest. I look up to Eton Man, but down on the Poor and up at the Scots.
    I am the Poor. I look up to Eton Man and the Rest. A Scot is for racing horses.
    I am a Scot. I pity the Rest for wanting to be Eton Man, but I look after the Poor.

    As Eton Man everybody else is lower class to me.
    As the Rest the Poor are lower class to me, but the bloody Scots are everywhere.
    As the Poor I can’t afford to go anywhere.
    As a Scot I eschew class distinctions, love Scotland, and the world is my oyster.

    As the Poor I am drowning without a welfare lifebelt.
    As the Rest I am getting poorer, wetter and homeless, surrounded by effluent.
    As Eton Man I am getting richer selling fantasy economics, and homes on flood plains.

    As a Scot I told you so.

    (With apologies to The Frost Report.)

  99. FlimFlamMan says:

    So the government creating currency is forgery. Who should create it then?

    Inflation a few years ago was nearly 5%, now it’s just over 2%; yep, that QE ‘forgery’ sure has stoked inflation.

    QE lowers the value of the currency? But sterling is higher than it was a couple of years ago, although lower than a couple before that. Then again, we’re talking about the UK ‘spending more than it earns’, importing more than it exports, so if QE lowered the value of the currency that would help exports. Wouldn’t that make QE a good thing?

    None of which means I support QE, I don’t, the main thing it does is encourage destabilising portfolio shifts; just look at the trouble caused to emerging markets by the Fed taper (in concert with Chinese slowdown).

    Also, Scotland is perfectly capable of prospering after independence, and paying any equitable share of debt that comes out of fair negotiations, but good grief there’s some nonsense in this article.

  100. john king says:

    “Time to look out all my English notes and take them to a Scottish bank to have them changed to Scottish notes”

    Liking your thinking Sandra 🙂

  101. john king says:

    ““Ginger Rodent” won’t go down well in Scotland. Now “Ginger Minge” I could be tempted.”

    Snigger 🙂

  102. Jeannie says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I just don’t understand the position Labour and the Lib Dems are taking on Osborne’s announcement.

    Let’s say you voted Labour or Lib Dem at the last UK general election. You expect your MP to represent your best interests – that’s what he’s for. Your MP’s party is telling you right now that if you vote Yes in September, it won’t support a currency union with rUK, even if it’s in your best interests. Therefore, your MP is telling you in advance that he won’t look after your interests. So when it comes to the UK General Election in 2015, why would you vote for them? There would just be no point, would there?

    Why would any Labour or Lib Dem MP put themself in that position?

  103. The Man in the Jar says:

    @Jutemen
    My sympathies, been there done that!

    A computer shop will charge approx £150 to remove windows8 and install windows7. I asked around and got it done for much less 😉 It is great I am now back to having a grown-ups computer!

  104. ronnie anderson says:

    @thepnr, How odd is that Love Mc gonnagill and ah started a fitba club fur youth n kid,s, an got a fitba pitch built in ma scheme, an no often sittin on ma erse.

  105. ronnie anderson says:

    @thepnr an somebody else goat in first wie the gordy pordy puddin n pie.

  106. john king says:

    “(With apologies to The Frost Report.)”

    Let me guess
    Osbourne aka John Cleese
    Balls aka Ronnie Barker
    Salmond aka Ronnie Corbett?

  107. Krackerman says:

    I love that graph of Gilt holdings…. snake eating it’s own tail….

  108. Famous15 says:

    Why do I get the feeling that negotiations have begun. In fact this site is a conference room.Now Rev I am not toying with your ego but you are even more important than even we thought. Ideas are being floated here because they are being noticed.

    There is more than mere Unionist trolling and stirring. Ideas are being dropped into the discussion. This is a lot more subtle than the flashes of riots by the corrupt BBC.

    And I do not conflate two issues cos I can see the big picture! Deja’s vu all over again. I saw it in the fifties and here we go again,but this time we know what they look and sound like.Yes? YES!

  109. tartanfever says:

    flimflanman says:

    ‘So the government creating currency is forgery. Who should create it then?’

    Err – factories, producers, businesses – you know, people that actually make stuff to sell for a profit.

    Call me old fashioned, but I like the idea of actually making stuff. I know it isn’t very popular with recent UK governments but I much prefer it to the ‘Paul Daniels School of Economics’ where money is conjured out of thin air.

  110. Caroline Corfield says:

    re pages getting stuck, I’m having that problem too, sometimes having to reset page not by refreshing, but by clicking through from a link on a fb posting
    most noticeable with Wings but think the problem might be on fb too

  111. FlimFlamMan says:

    @Thepnr

    The B for S article correctly lists the advantages of a currency union; I don’t think anyone would deny they exist. Unfortunately it completely misses the huge disadvantage that I keep banging on about.

    All those advantages of simplified cross-border trade apply to Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and so on, but their economies are still suffering at depression and Great Depression levels of contraction and unemployment. It’s 2014 now; they’ve been suffering at those levels for years.

    The perfectly real advantages of a currency union are completely annihilated when the structure of that union leads to the inability to finance external deficits. The Euro has such a structure, and so would a rUK/iScotland union, in that there would be hard deficit limits and no fiscal transfers.

    Currency unions work when the participants effectively, or literally, form a single nation state. Integration in Europe could fix the Euro, except the southern Europeans now hate the Germans, but such integration in the context of rUK/iS clearly defeats the purpose of Scottish independence.

  112. Gavin C Barrie says:

    FlimFlamMan; Within the Sterling area surely QE reduces the value of the sterling held, and so hard luck to those who held sterling in cash deposits? In simple arithmetic lets say there is £10,000 in circulation in the sterling area and you have £100 on deposit. The government applies QE so doubling sterling in circulation to £20,000,your £100 has halved in value.

    Currency shifts internationally may well result in sterling moving higher or lower higher against other currencies but within the confines of the UK your £sterling buys less with QE.

    Seems there is a living to be made from trading currencies?

  113. sandra says:

    Liking your thinking Sandra

    thanks – but I have come up with an even better plan

    Gets black marker and writes “YES Scotland” on every English bank note – before I take them to the bank 🙂

    Anyone else got any good ideas what to write on the notes let me know – got 7 months of doing this ahead of me

    smiles they may take their notes back – but they will never take our sense of humor 😉

  114. FlimFlamMan says:

    @tartanfever

    Err – factories, producers, businesses – you know, people that actually make stuff to sell for a profit.

    But those places make stuff, not currency. As you say, they make stuff and sell it, so where do the buyers get currency?

    Call me old fashioned, but I like the idea of actually making stuff. I know it isn’t very popular with recent UK governments but I much prefer it to the ‘Paul Daniels School of Economics’ where money is conjured out of thin air.

    Well then I’m old fashioned too, because that’s exactly what I want to see.

    I know people get the idea that I’m some sort of neoliberal because of the things I say about currencies, but far from it. I completely agree with you when it comes to the way the financial sector has created money, debt based money, for completely unproductive speculation, and wrecked nations and human lives in the process. Most of what the financial sector does is parasitic and needs to be ended.

    But, ‘out of thin air’ is exactly where money, and currency, does come from. Denying that, or attempting to go back to a gold standard, or wacky ideas about bitcoin, would unnecessarily constrain our capacity to do real things; to care for our fellow citizens and to make useful ‘stuff’. I won’t deny or ignore the reality of what money is, especially modern ‘fiat’ money, since it allows us to do things we couldn’t otherwise do. I just want us to remove the power over it from corrupt bankers and politicos so we can use it for society as a whole.

  115. hetty says:

    the unionists will not win, they will try, but ultimately, sorry guys you lot, who thrive on keeping the truth from the people of Scotland, stop patronising and start looking into the mirror, people in flood ridden England are not happy, understandably, it willl show in the next gen. election…big style.

  116. Flower of Scotland says:

    I have an iPad and have no problems with Wings !
    Great Article ! Might have to read it more than once , it all so complicated ,
    Me , I don’t care about currency , debt whatever , I just want MY country Scotland to be Independent and not governed by another country . I am also quite willing to leave policy making and the whole run up to Independence with Nicola and Alex .
    They stood out today , amongst all these rogues and ("Tractor" - Ed)s , with lots of admiration from the Yes campaign.

  117. tartanfever says:

    flimflanman,

    Yes, i see what you mean about debt. I understand that debt is inherit in our socio-economic model, and just about every model throughout history.

    However, your picking up on Scott’s use of the term ‘forgery’ (he describes QE, in layman’s terms as forgery) and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to use that phrase.

    It is a forgery in the sense that it is not earned, it’s not a positive, it’s a fix that you generally pay for later, it covers the cracks, it can hide economic weakness and so on – and to the layman that could easily be regarded as a forgery.

  118. FlimFlamMan says:

    @Gavin C Barrie

    Within the Sterling area surely QE reduces the value of the sterling held, and so hard luck to those who held sterling in cash deposits? In simple arithmetic lets say there is £10,000 in circulation in the sterling area and you have £100 on deposit. The government applies QE so doubling sterling in circulation to £20,000,your £100 has halved in value.

    Except, that hasn’t happened has it?

    I’m not good at getting things condensed into a small number of words, and I’m probably skimming over way too much despite that, but still. Firstly, existing bonds that the B of E have purchased in QE operations have been largely held by banks and other financial institutions.

    Reserves are the heart of the payment system; banks hold them, in accounts at the central bank, and use them to settle payments between customers at different banks, and between the private sector and the government.

    Banks bid up the price of lending when reserves are in short supply, while the price drops when they are plentiful. Until recently, when the central bank wanted to set an overnight rate for interbank lending it would do so by draining reserves until the rate was hit.

    Banks would swap their reserves for bonds, because bonds pay interest. reserves don’t, or didn’t; the B of E now also offers a return on reserves themselves, but that’s a recent development.

    The recent QE has reversed that process, so the amount of reserves in the system has expanded massively. None of these reserves are in circulation, they just sit in the various bank’s reserve accounts with the central bank.

    Some of the bonds purchased were held by other private sector, non-bank, entities, including individuals. These entities and individuals end up with cash rather than reserves.

    This doesn’t increase the amount of net financial assets in circulation, it just swaps them from interest paying assets — bonds — to non interest paying assets — cash.

    Why would people give up the interest? Because bond yields have been very low across a range of countries. People cash them in and look for higher paying ‘investments’, otherwise known as speculation.

    Sovereign government bonds are barely distinguishable from cash in terms of liquidity; they are both effectively ‘money’. But because the cash pays no interest all that ‘hot money’ went looking for returns, driving bubbles in various commodities and emerging markets. Bubbles that are now deflating, certainly in emerging markets.

    So QE doesn’t create new money, it swaps assets and drives, destructive in many cases, portfolio changes. Bonds to cash to commodities and emerging market ‘investment’ opportunities.

    Money in circulation doesn’t change; where it goes and what it does changes. Not necessarily for the better.

    Seems there is a living to be made from trading currencies?

    Oh absolutely, the financial sector make out like bandits by moving money around rather than doing something productive.

  119. Patrick Roden says:

    @Jeannie,

    ” Why would any Labour or Lib Dem MP put themselves in that position?”

    Because they are getting desperate Jeannie. They see the polls showing that the trend is for Yes and the writing is on the wall.

    The Labour/Lib Dems who back this Tory announcement, are British Unionists, who put Westminster before the people of Scotland.

    They backed it, because their backing was required, for the threat to have maximum ‘scaremongeringibility’

    They misunderstand Scots.

  120. FlimFlamMan says:

    @tartanfever

    It is a forgery in the sense that it is not earned, it’s not a positive, it’s a fix that you generally pay for later, it covers the cracks, it can hide economic weakness and so on – and to the layman that could easily be regarded as a forgery.

    I agree that QE has not been positive; it’s been a complete failure in its stated purpose, and has had damaging side-effects. It’s just that the word forgery indicates that it’s not real money. It’s entirely real, it’s just been very badly used.

    The word forgery also tends to be used in the context of claims that gold or other precious metals are the only ‘real’ money. Money is whatever humans in a particular society agree on, and if it isn’t tied to some commodity, gold or anything else, it gives us greater flexibility.

    But yes, we’re paying for it later, or rather the likes of Brazil, Argentina, and Turkey are paying for it. Not that their current problems are entirely down to the US Fed ‘tapering’ its QE.

  121. gavin C Barie says:

    @ FlimFlamMan: it’s past midnight so I’m off to bed. I’d like to continue the discussion.

    “Except that hasn’t happened has it?”

    Prices rises in the supermarkets are/have happened.So too car purchase costs.Caused either by inflation greater than declared by the government , or QE? Or by currency fluctuations?

  122. Appleby says:

    Fantastic work, Scott. I suspect this will be the tip of the iceberg when we finally get a hold of the purse strings and levers of power. This is why they are running scared and panicking so much. They don’t want us to find out these things or just how bad they’ve been screwing us. There will be all sorts of outrageous scams and bleeding us dry we’ll only find out about, like the equally crazy and disturbing archives uncovered after the fall of the Soviet Union that showed the extent of the mess it became.

    It might also make them panic as other parts of the UK will begin to wonder if the same thing is happening to them.

  123. Patrician says:

    at its simplest level QE was started to allow the banks to lend to businesses, but has failed miserably because the banks are keeping the money in-house to build up their fortress balance sheets.

  124. FlimFlamMan says:

    @Gavin C Barrie

    it’s past midnight so I’m off to bed. I’d like to continue the discussion

    I shall be joining you soon. Well, not in your bed obviously, and if I find you in mine I’m going to have to ask you to leave.

    Prices rises in the supermarkets are/have happened.So too car purchase costs.Caused either by inflation greater than declared by the government , or QE? Or by currency fluctuations?

    It’s true that the headline inflation figures don’t always do a good job of capturing the situations faced by real people, and especially the different situations faced by people at different income levels. They are broadly accurate though, and inflation has come down from nearly 5% to just over 2% during the period that QE has been in operation.

    Inflation has various causes, and to a certain extent is deliberately built into the system since low to moderate inflation is far more benign than deflation. Other than that, yes, currency fluctuations and their effect on import prices; changes in commodity and energy prices, often driven by speculation; other cost-push increases in general. Inflation can also be caused by excess effective demand, but with millions unable to find work we’re not in that situation.

    Undoubtedly people are facing cost of living issues now, but they’re not new, and they’re not driven by the low inflation we have; even 5% is not high. The problem is stagnant wages, and it’s a problem we’ve had for decades now.

    If you look at graphs of the return to capital — profit — and to labour — wages — they rose in lockstep for at least three decades after the end of WW2. Then in the late 70s they began to diverge, with profits continuing to rise and wages stagnating.

    The problem was masked for years, with the occasional hiccup, by the financial sector and governments convincing people to finance their spending with debt, including insane mortgage lending and housing bubbles. The lending wasn’t for productive investment, it was for pure consumption and speculation. The former cannot provide the returns needed to service the debt, and the latter collapses when the speculative bubble bursts.

    It couldn’t last, and so it didn’t. The crash that started in 2007 and really got going in 2008 was the result.

    So what is the UK government’s response? Oh, of course; a new housing bubble in London and the south-east.

    None of this is news though. The question is what to do about it.

    The answer involves greatly reducing the size of the financial sector; limiting lending to genuine productive investment, which includes eliminating the massive rent extraction machine that is our bank driven housing ‘system’; restoring wages to a level that allows people purchase their output without ever increasing debt; and government policies which ensure that jobs are available for all who want to work, among other things.

    All of which goes against the interests of ‘the City’, big business, and their friends in Westminster.

    That’s where Scottish independence comes in; not as a guaranteed cure, but as a provider of potential.

    Oh, and bugger the UK pound, as well as the Panda.

  125. FlimFlamMan says:

    @Patrician

    It doesn’t even help their balance sheets; the banks either have bonds or reserves. One account at the central bank or another. It didn’t work because bank lending is not reserve constrained.

    The economy tanked and the banks decided, not without justification, that lots of people and businesses were bad risks. Of course the economy tanked because of the banks’ previous actions, but we’re supposed to ignore that.

  126. Jack Beck says:

    Rev. Stuart Campbell says:
    13 February, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    “A big hat-tip to Scott for the proper use of the plural possessive apostrophe in the title of the article! Just when many of our regular posters were beginning to get the hang of it, they’re confused again ;0)”

    That was me. I don’t think I get this joke.

    Sorry Rev – I’m afraid I’m probably a bit more sensitive about apostrophes than most folk and I was delighted to see it used correctly! On the other hand there are lots of other folk on here – – –

  127. Patrician says:

    @FlimFlamMan

    you call it reserves, I call it on the balance sheet. You say po-tato, I say po-tat-o. 🙂

    QE started after the banking crash, the banks didn’t decide that businesses were bad risks, it is just more important to them that they have the reserves on the balance sheet to withstand the next financial crash.

  128. FlimFlamMan says:

    @Patrician

    I think you may be confusing reserves and capital.

    Reserves are assets of a bank, in the form of vault cash held in the various bank offices, and sums held in reserve accounts at the central bank. Reserves act to enable the payment system; cheques, credit cards, transfers and so on. It’s the movement and elimination of reserves that provides the final settlement of a payment.

    If an individual bank has excess reserves, more than it needs to settle payments, it will either attempt to lend them to another bank that needs them, or swap them for bonds if they’re available. Failing both of those, the excess reserves will just sit in the retail bank’s account at the central bank.

    When people think bonds they think fancy looking printed certificates, but with bank operations the important part is that the bank’s assets switch from a reserve account to an interest paying account. Both at the central bank and both assets of the retail bank.

    Switching between the two does not move them on the balance sheet; they’re both assets.

    Capital is a liability of the bank, principally shareholder equity, and it is what is supposed to provide a buffer to absorb losses, or withstand the next financial crash as you put it. Banks can reduce their vulnerability by increasing capital, reducing risky lending, or both. For the most part they chose to reduce lending since acquiring capital was difficult.

    QE did start after the crash; swapping bonds held by banks for reserves. It was supposed to boost bank lending, but it failed because bank lending is not reserve constrained. The banks didn’t keep the reserves from the bond/reserve swap to shore up their balance sheets, because bonds and reserves are on the same side of the balance sheet anyway.

  129. Lou Nisbet says:

    As a matter of technical info if anyone is still reading this. To get a NEW version of any web page NOT from the cache
    hold down the KEY AND PRESS F5. Anything else generally just renews the page from the cache.

  130. Lou Nisbet says:

    Shit I type SHIFT key but it did not appear – sorry

  131. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Shit I type SHIFT key but it did not appear – sorry”

    And what’s more, you actually meant the CTRL key…

    😀

  132. Howie says:

    The level of debt compared to GNP is truly scary. This is not possible to repay without monetizing it, and no amount of austerity will make it go away either.

    There is no real growth because there is no productivity increases or wage increases. The only growth is coming from blowing up another housing bubble and fiddling the inflation figures.

    Its hard to understand why they do not break up the monstrously large Too big to fail banks, and separate them into entities that are possible to be overseen by a competent board of directors. The part that have public utility can be allowed to enjoy government protection the riskier bits can sink or swim according to their real abilities.

    What is needed is a bit of real creative destruction so that the Benthamite principal of the greatest good to the greatest number can be restored.

    I can’t see this happening in the UK under any of the parties that get elected there. They are far too easily beguiled by the wealthy elites that flatter and fund them, and lobby heavily to get them to do what benefits them rather than what is best for the majority of people that live and work in the UK.

    If these means that some people currently living in homes that they can only afford because interest rates are so low that the majority of the population gets no encouragement to build up savings for their future, have to move to less glamorous properties, to coin a phrase employed by Norman Lamont against the three million unemployed that his policies caused, its a price worth paying.

    And to be blunt if they do not start saving hard they will face penury in their old age as now that there are no more easy targets to marginalise the old will be next in the firing line.

    We need independence but e also need a government that does the best for the greatest number and not for the well connected few.

  133. Howie says:

    In response to the observation that “”Capital is a liability of the bank, principally shareholder equity, and it is what is supposed to provide a buffer to absorb losses, or withstand the next financial crash as you put it. Banks can reduce their vulnerability by increasing capital, reducing risky lending, or both. For the most part they chose to reduce lending since acquiring capital was difficult.””

    I should like to point out that for European banks the sad truth is that the risible levels of capital that the banks hold under the less than onerous protocols of Basel beggar belief. The rubbish that they can present as being as good as cash to maintain the pretence that they are within the limits makes these low levels seem dangerously lax.

    But even making them increase capital requirements to 10-15% does not really alter the fact that there is a lot of really grotty stuff on their balance sheets marked as assets equal to gilts

    But changing the Basel rules would not work either as they would just limbo dance under any bar that you set them with opaque financial engineering aided and abetted by compliant rating agencies.

  134. FlimFlamMan says:

    @Howie

    Indeed. Basel III has already been watered down significantly. I wasn’t suggesting that capital requirements are adequate, just pointing out the difference between capital and reserves.

    On your wider point, here and on other threads, about overgrown and insolvent banks; damned right.

    Break them up, tell the casino element to bugger off to London or New York or elsewhere, and regulate them as public utilities defined by what they can do, not what they can’t. Avoid the infinite set problem.

  135. Brian Hill says:

    Brilliant article, especially for those – like me with low EQ – no, not Emotional Intelligence but Economic Intelligence. Lot’s of it was making sense once it was explained.

    But getting it out into the public is another matter – couldn’t John Swinney debate Danny Alexander asking him to explain the above facts?

    No point asking Lamont or Lady Muck of the Baillie, with her posh patronising voice she would look piteously at you and promptly change the subject.

    Still, the more of us who know the more we can tell others, I suppose, but we need a good simple leaflet.

    YES18

  136. SJR82 says:

    Now that we have latest GERS figures 12/13 which I see mention of this money that is returned from BoE to HM treasury – my question is what part of Public Sector revenue does that fall into?

    There is also a per capita share (approx£ 500m) of this allocated to Scotland’s finances apparently according to GERS If I understand correctly which can surely only be illustrative income as the money is surely delivered to Scotland via either block grant or public spend rather that direct from BoE.

    Hope all that makes sense as a question as I like to try and be spot on with understanding this stuff as it’s easy to end up quickly out your depth!!



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