Douglas Fraser, Business and economy editor, Scotland

Douglas Fraser Business and economy editor, Scotland

Come here for my take on money matters from a Scottish perspective

Growth, insecurity and change

16 April 2014
grangemouth
The Grangemouth shutdown is said to have caused an 0.2% hit to Scotland's economic growth

For most of these downturn years, the Scottish economy has behaved rather like that of the UK as a whole.

As I've noted before, Scotland may be the outlier in its geography and constitution, but it's far more like the UK average than, say, London.

The latest figures show that may be changing. If you look at both the employment and the unemployment rate, Scotland has moved into a better position on both counts than the UK average.

But if you look at the latest figures for economic growth, covering the last quarter of 2013, you find gross domestic product (GDP) has had a much worse year than the UK as a whole.

That quarter saw only 0.2% growth, while the UK was on a much healthier 0.7%. There's been a downward revision also in the second quarter of last year, cutting from 0.4% to 0.2%.

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Douglas added analysis to:

Sanpower buys House of Fraser in £480m deal

13 April 2014

From Mohamed al Fayed to Iceland's business buccaneers, the House of Fraser portfolio has secured its owners many of Britain's most prestigious retail locations.

And at a time of unprecedented change for the industry, that is testament to the vision of the Fraser family, and to the endurance of the department store format.

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Whisky joins the slowdown in luxury goods growth

11 April 2014
Distillery worker
Growth in Scotch whisky exports has slowed over the past two years

BenRiach whisky has strong distribution in Africa, where two of its three owners live.

In the Angolan capital, Luanda, oil-rich Chinese executives come through duty free sales at the airport, and when the senior guy picks up a £300 bottle of single malt, then others in his party are honour-bound to do the same.

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Scotch whisky exports remain flat

11 April 2014

We've heard from individual distillers that the fall-off in the Chinese market has a lot to do with official government disapproval of conspicuous consumption, and a crackdown on the culture of business gifts, as they easily cross the line into corruption.

It's a challenge that has hit the premium and luxury goods market in quite a big way.

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Scottish independence: Complex energy choices, and in whose interests?

10 April 2014
Wind turbine
The emphasis of both UK and Scottish energy policy has been on developing wind and marine power

You could view the independence debate as a binary, static choice; "Yes" or "No"? But it's worth remembering that it takes place amidst immense change.

Forgive me if this seems a bit obvious. It's simply to point out that there are numerous dynamic elements which make the choice of constitutional future all the more complex.

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Shared debt and common currency

8 April 2014
Scottish notes
The NIESR report looks at debt and includes a "thought experiment" on currency

Whether it's 'Yes' or 'No', we're burdened with a whole lot of government debt.

That's at least one conclusion of a report from the National Institute for Economic and Social Research.

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The very slow slaying of Sir David's Goliath

7 April 2014
David Murray
Murray rose to prominence through his time at the helm of Rangers

It was Rangers that brought Sir David Murray fame. His fortune had more to do with metal and property.

The connection with the Ibrox club probably brings more notoriety than fame these days, given the way in which he sold it on, disastrously, to Craig Whyte.

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Shetland sets sail for new horizons

5 April 2014
Lerwick fish market
Shetland Islands Council estimates that seafood is worth £340m a year to the economy

Shetland's tourism sector is rather niche. It's for people who like going a long way off the beaten track, and don't mind uncertain weather or the risk of being fogbound.

There's another problem this year. Shetland's very busy. I've just been there, and a hotel room costs much the same as a rather more modern room in central London.

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Cupid's arrow changes target

2 April 2014
Illustration of Cupid

At Cupid, the online dating company, chief executive Phil Gripton says the past year has seen "an inflection point". That's some euphemism.

The Edinburgh-based firm was badly knocked off course by investigations for BBC programmes, finding what appeared to be fake profiles being set up, to draw customers into subscriptions.

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Scottish firms hit the acquisition trail

1 April 2014
Stock board
This week has seen a series of acquisitions involving Scottish firms

You'd be forgiven for thinking corporate Scotland has suddenly gone acquisition daft to mark the first of April.

Wood Group has picked up a small engineering consultancy in the Canadian pipeline business.

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About Douglas

Douglas joined BBC Scotland at the moment the financial crisis struck in 2008, reporting on the meltdown at RBS and the collapse of Dunfermline Building Society.

His beat also includes close attention to the offshore oil and renewable energy sectors, and he takes a mostly professional interest in whisky.

Working in Scottish journalism since 1989, he previously worked for The Herald and The Scotsman, among other newspapers.

He has covered politics from the Holyrood parliament, as well as education, the arts and the Highlands and Islands.

He is co-author of the Political Guide to Modern Scotland.

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