Imports to keep the lights on

Longannet Power Station
It has been warned that the closure of Longannet power station could make Scotland dependent on power from south of the border

The challenge of keeping the lights on has returned to Holyrood, with MSPs looking into the security of the nation's energy supply.

"The nation" is a flexible concept here, as this is a Scottish viewpoint, when everyone agrees that the energy market should remain British, if not expanding into a European single market, with the help of more sub-sea inter-connectors.

Appearing before the enterprise and energy committee are the big energy utilities, and their regulator. Scottish Power and SSE (Scottish Hydro, to most of us) are among those under pressure over consumer bills.

They had made it clear that prices were stuck while they waited to see if Ed Miliband and Labour would follow through on freezing prices. That interventionist policy also had the unintended consequence of raising investment risk.

With Miliband defeated and a less interventionist government in power at Westminster, it follows that prices should now fall, and investment plans can be taken out the chiller.

Read full article Imports to keep the lights on

From Indyref to Euroref: What's been learned?

referendum comp

A rifle through the attic recently turned up a memory of being 11 years old, newly taken by politics, and collecting stuff - the way boys do.

A tube of posters included campaign material from the 1975 referendum on British membership of what was then the European Economic Community.

Read full article From Indyref to Euroref: What's been learned?

Price inflation: what goes down...

Shopper carrying shopping bags

It's 55 years since we last saw prices falling. It didn't last long, and nor is the deflation of prices announced this week by the Office for National Statistics.

Economists will tell you that deflation is generally a Very Bad Thing. Once people start anticipating that prices will be lower in future, they put off buying goods.

Read full article Price inflation: what goes down...

Jings! Crivvens!

SNP supporters cheer on general election night
The SNP secured 56 of the 59 seats available in Scotland

What's changed?

A lot.

Read full article Jings! Crivvens!

Shopping around

Sainsbury's store in East London

Britain's supermarkets continue to feel the pain from having to adapt to our changing behaviour.

Sainsbury's was the most recent one to report falling sales.

Read full article Shopping around

Lubricating the oil cycle

Total's north sea oil rig

The oil price is on the rise again. Having fallen below $50 per barrel of Brent crude, it's currently trading close to $67.

So while drivers and oil-burning businesses find prices rising a bit (but well below levels seen last summer, when it was $115), is that the crisis over for the oil industry?

Read full article Lubricating the oil cycle

More than merely paper losses

Tullis Russell product

Scotland used to be quite good at making paper. It fed a healthy demand, fuelled by all that world-beating literacy and education.

The industry is thought to have begun in Dalry, Edinburgh, as early as 1590. As a sizeable market for paper in government, publishing, commerce, the university and the law courts, the capital continued to dominate, with dozens of mills along the Water of Leith.

Read full article More than merely paper losses

Who to trust at Alliance Trust?

Electronic read-out of share prices along its front of the Alliance Trust building

You might not notice the big modern black box on Dundee's West Marketgait unless your eye is caught by the electronic read-out of share prices along its frontage.

It's just across the road from Debenhams and the Overgate shopping centre, but this isn't a building most Taysiders would take in on a day in the city centre.

Read full article Who to trust at Alliance Trust?

Go compare: Scotland's place in the world


Ronald Reagan got into the White House with the question: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?". So 35 years later, are you better off than at the last election?

Part of the answer is the highly contested issue of real spending power. Tories can tell a positive story using real household net income (including benefit and tax changes as well as pay), while Labour prefers to tell a negative story about squeezed spending power, using real earnings.

Read full article Go compare: Scotland's place in the world

Scotland's full fiscal challenges

British banknotes

That £7.6bn figure won't go away. Until now, that is. It now has companion numbers. And they're even bigger.

So £9.7bn may now become the big number that gets batted around the final two weeks of the election campaign - and beyond.

Read full article Scotland's full fiscal challenges