Scottish independence: balancing the books
Beware: incoming statistics. GERS is back.
Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland isn't the most riveting read, but it matters a lot in the independence debate.
It is the assessment of Scottish government statisticians of how much Scotland raises in tax, and how much is spent by government on Scots.
This is the 20th set of these annual figures. They were first devised as a means by which Conservative ministers could demonstrate how generously Scotland was treated by Whitehall.
While Scottish spending was higher per head than the rest of the UK, oil revenues weren't providing much of an answer. Between 1984-85 and 1991-92, they had fallen from £12bn to less than £1bn.
Scottish independence: business weighs in
Is Scotland's currency dispute going to be resolved by politics or by economics?
Two of the Scottish government's economic advisers were at Holyrood on Wednesday saying it'll be economics.
Joint control of the pound and the Bank of England makes sense for Scotland and the rest of the UK, they argued. They agreed with SNP ministers' claims that the three main Westminster parties are merely playing politics - George Osborne's "not being serious" - and will see sense when confronted with a Yes vote.
Prof Andrew Hughes-Hallett, one of the advisers, observed that politics always has to yield to economic pressures. He offered up the example of the Soviet Union, though conceded that it did take rather a long time for the Kremlin's command economy experiment to collapse.
The SNP government has to hope that its opponents capitulate within weeks of a Yes vote rather than taking 72 years. Even if the professor is right (eventually), politics can still have a big say in the deals that are struck, and those that aren't. It's not to be under-estimated.
Nothing to gain
Scottish independence: Shell boss wants Scotland to 'remain in UK'
So why are businesses speaking up now?
Partly, it's because this is a busy time of year for reporting financial results, and publication of annual reports, which require those risk registers to be made public.
But there's another factor. Several of the concerns raised about Scottish independence are within the context of greater concerns that UK voters could take the opportunity of a referendum to pull out from the European Union.
Three years out from that possible date with constitutional destiny, business is serving notice that it would make its presence felt in that fight.
And it may be wary that this May's European Parliament elections could build the momentum towards a referendum on the issue.
Scottish independence: Investment risks and business rewards
Business is about opportunities. Investing is about risk. Two sides of the same coin.
That's an aphorism I just made up, which I'd like to think gets to the heart of the issue about Standard Life and Royal Bank of Scotland setting out their concerns over Scottish independence.
On Wednesday, at a Holyrood committee hearing, the sunny optimism of entrepreneur Jim McColl was seeing opportunity from a government in Edinburgh exercising the levers of power to coax more growth out of business. Why wouldn't a country want that, he asked?
The sunshine didn't last long. At daybreak on Thursday morning, the big corporates were weighing in with warnings to investors about risk.
They are legally required to do this. Company accounts have to be open with investors about the risks being taken. In RBS's 205 pages of annual report (and that's just the main document), some 66 pages were all about risk, divided into sections on liquidity and funding, market, credit and country risk.
Squeezing the oil industry
While cabinets clashed over Aberdeenshire and the oil industry on Monday, something was happening that was perhaps far more significant for the future of the Scottish economy.
The publication of Sir Ian Wood's UKCS Maximising Recovery Review may not sound like a best-selling page-turner. Although related to the UK cabinet's visit to Aberdeen, the meat of it risked being overlooked.
Sir Ian, the busy retiree who built up the Wood Group oilfield services giant, suggested all the political attention, of rival cabinets, might be welcome to an industry that has been long-neglected as over the horizon and out of sight.
But he also played down the significance of what he was proposing. Having played the oil game in Aberdeen for more than 40 years, he knows how to keep industry colleagues and politicians on board.
And for a report as radical as this, it was no mean achievement, in the current political environment, to get support from the UK and Scottish governments as well as a welcome from the industry. It was quite a guarded welcome.
North Sea costs blow investment abroad
New rules on offshore helicopter flights, announced today, are a reminder of the risky business of bringing hydrocarbons ashore.
And while the measures should make those offshore flights safer, financially, the business looks like it's getting riskier.
Today's Centrica results were scrutinised closely for the British Gas and Scottish Gas domestic supply figures.
Its profits remain at the centre of a political storm, with the company's chief executive warning off politicians who offer solutions to high and rising household bills that penalise the supplier companies.
Profits in that retail division were down 6% to £571m. But operating profits on the company's upstream facilities, exploring for and production oil and gas, looked rather better. They were up 23% to £1.155bn. Behind that was a 16% increase in production of gas and liquids.
Scottish independence: Scottish government to finance bond powers
Government bond issuance is normally a technical financial instrument for the secure handling of the public finances. But in Scotland in 2014, it's raw politics.
While the UK government hands out powers already available to local councils, it wants to send two big signals. First, it's willing to hand over more powers to Scotland, if cautiously. Second, those powers may not be that welcome.
The move doesn't increase spending limits. Instead it lets St Andrew's House compare the cost of borrowing through the UK with borrowing on its own, using a Scottish government credit rating.
With no borrowing history, it's expected the latter will be more expensive. So the political message ahead of the referendum: why would Scots want to avoid use of the UK's market credibility?
The Scottish government response is that the move is too constrained, and comes too late. That's a reminder that it had wanted to borrow more than the Treasury would allow, to stimulate demand through the worst of the downturn.
Scottish independence: Who pays price of Scots currency?
I'm writing from London, where retail staff are looking even more askance at my Scottish banknotes. It's filtering back to the metropolis that something is up on the future of the British pound.
Watching the debate from a distance on the Scottish government's currency options after a referendum 'yes', it's striking how scratchy it's become. Both sides know this matters.
I've taken some travelling time to look again at the assessment of currency options published by the Treasury last week.
To be more accurate, it's an assessment of one currency option - a formal currency alliance, with shared control of sterling.
And while every one of these Whitehall papers on the independence debate has been steered towards the case for retaining the UK union, this one is a lot more forthright. Brutally so.
Scottish independence: Currency union block could hurt firms, says Alex Salmond
You may agree with the Scottish government that it's bluff, and there will be goodwill and co-operation once negotiations get under way.
Having digested it, and Alex Salmond's response this morning, my reckoning, for what it's worth: that would be a brave thing to do.
It's your judgement as to whether it's bullying or ill-judged in tone.
But I got the sense these Treasury officials meant what they wrote.