Robert Peston, economics editor

Robert Peston Economics editor

Welcome to Peston's Picks - for my latest thoughts on the big economic events around the world making us richer or poorer

Westminster doing 'no preparation for Scots independence'

24 April 2014
Union Jack and Saltire
Politicians and civil servants are not putting contingency plans in place for Scotland going alone, according to government sources.

Call me naïve, but I thought the government would be making contingency plans for the possibility that the Scots vote for independence.

Perhaps we should now call this more than a possibility, given that opinion polls show momentum behind the independence campaign.

The so-called "Better Together" campaign still has the edge, but seemingly not much of an advantage any longer.

Anyway, it would be quite a big deal (to put it mildly) if we were to wake up on 19 September to find Scotland had chosen to go it alone.

So I assumed that ministers and Whitehall would be working secretly to eliminate the interwoven political, economic and financial uncertainties that would be created by a vote for independence.

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Is the UK becoming more productive?

23 April 2014
Nissan car plant worker

Well, well, well. UK productivity - the output of British workers - may be improving at long last.

That is the implication of the latest survey of business conditions by the Bank of England's agents, and it is the hope of the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

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Is the UK mending fast enough?

22 April 2014

You may remember that for some years I have been highlighting research by the consultants McKinsey that shows - inter alia - how the UK has been neck and neck with Japan as the most indebted of the world's biggest economies.

Well because there has been controversy about whether the UK's current recovery is dangerously and unsustainably debt-fuelled, I asked McKinsey if it could update its analysis.

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Has government hurt education exports?

2 April 2014
University students

One of the UK's great global competitive strengths is in education, which contributes around £10bn a year in export earnings.

Which is useful at a time when the gap between our earnings from the rest of the world, and what we pay to the rest of the world, has been widening.

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Will proper pay rises soon be affordable?

1 April 2014
Homer Simpson
Have we become a nation of Homer Simpsons?

Ask any economist (ie, not me - don't ever forget I am a hack) and they'll say it is impossible to have any meaningful improvement in living standards without any improvement in productivity.

Which is why it has been slightly nerve-wracking, after all those years that we've been getting poorer, that the recent economic recovery has been accompanied by only the smallest improvements in output per hour worked or output per worker.

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UK's recovery not debt-fuelled

31 March 2014
Money
The overall indebtedness of the UK economy should fall pretty sharply in 2014

The publication of the 2013 national accounts contained a number of positives, not least of which was an upward revision to exports, and confirmation that business investment is recovering.

Or, to put it another way, although the belated escape of the UK economy from the long years of stagnation has been too dependent, many would say, on growth in consumer spending (in the traditional British way), the recovery is not as unbalanced as some have feared.

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When will the UK pay its way?

28 March 2014
Nissan vehicles for export waiting at Tyne docks in South Shields
The deficit on trade in goods remains eye-wateringly large

If the priority for the UK is to reduce its indebtedness - public and private sector debts - then today's balance of payments stats are not cheery.

They show the UK was a net borrower from the rest of the world of £65.7bn last year, up from £55.4bn in 2012.

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In Ukraine: IMF Mr Nice or Nasty?

27 March 2014
Maidan Square, Kiev
The Barricades in Maidan Square, the scene of months of protests

Is tough love from the West the right economic prescription for Ukraine, as the Russian bear consumes the Crimea and appears to be salivating over the prospect of consuming rather more of that turbulent country?

Or should the International Monetary Fund and other sovereign creditors be a little less insistent that Ukrainians should put on hairshirts as a condition of receiving vital official loans?

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About Robert

Robert has won numerous awards for his journalism, including Journalist of the Year, Specialist Journalist of the Year and Scoop of the Year (twice) from the Royal Television Society, Performer of the Year from the Broadcasting Press Guild, and Broadcaster of the Year and Journalist of the Year from the Wincott Foundation.

Prior to joining the BBC, he was political editor and financial editor of the Financial Times, City Editor of the Sunday Telegraph and a columnist for the New Statesman and Sunday Times.

He broadcast and published a series of influential reports about the causes and consequences of the global financial crisis.

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