Is prudential tinkering our salvation?
We live in a developed western world where the heuristics of economics, the normal policy responses learned through past experience, seem irrelevant.
As just two examples, neither the US or UK economies have bounced back in the way history has suggested they should have done since the financial crash and shock of 2007-8. In the UK for example, GDP (national income) is a fifth lower than it would have been, had the pre-crisis trends resumed.
But, as the governor of the Bank of England reminded us last night in a speech in New York, if the unemployment rate had risen as it has done in previous periods of recession and stagnation, it would today be 14% in the UK, as opposed to the current 7.6%.
Or to put it another way, there is good and bad news in our recent economic performance. That said, economists being economists don't always see the ostensible good news as benign. So, for example, the growth of employment at a time of anaemic recovery is seen by some as evidence that there has been a permanent reduction in productivity, which reduces our long-term growth prospects.
As it happens, that pessimism isn't shared by the Bank of England, though the government's Office of Budget Responsibility appears more prone to the glass-half-empty view.
Food prices in an independent Scotland
It is a statement of the bloomin' obvious that businesses behave differently in different countries.
It is equally obvious that if Scotland becomes a separate nation, businesses that straddle the borders of Scotland and the rest of the UK will - over time - assess questions such as where they invest and how they price on the basis of national conditions.
Britain's curious consumer-led recovery
On the Office for Budget Responsibility's analysis of what's going on in the British economy, there is a bit of a mystery about why the recovery is happening now, as opposed to last year or next year or some other time.
What I mean by that is that the recovery has been driven, on the OBR's analysis, by households spending a good deal more than it and other economists anticipated.
Chancellor’s return to 1948
There are a number of striking assertions by the Office of Budget Responsibility, whose forecasts underpinned the chancellor's Autumn Statement.
One is that by 2018-19, when the OBR expects the budget to be in surplus, as a result of a projected fall in the annual deficit by a remarkable 11.1% of GDP, government's "consumption of goods and services - a rough proxy for day-to-day spending on public services and administration - will shrink to its smallest share of national income at least since 1948, when comparable National Accounts data are first available".
Treasury argues for tax cuts
Last night the Treasury published a two-page summary of new analysis it has carried out on the "dynamic" effects of cutting taxes.
What it shows, says the Treasury, is that the cuts the chancellor has made, and is still making, to the rate of corporation tax will, over 20 years:
UK economy and Tesco diverge
Tesco this morning announced that in the three months to 23 November, underlying or like-for-like sales in the UK were down either 1.4%, or 1.5%, or 1.6%, depending on which of the three blinkin' measures published by the giant grocer is the most reliable.
There is no point in getting into the nuances of the calculation of this measure of sales, since they all tell the same story - sales down.