The Great Debate UK

The benefits of a Scottish Yes vote

'Yes' campaigners holding Scottish Saltire flags gather for a rally in George Square, GlasgowThe list of catastrophes that would befall Britain in the event of Scottish independence continues to grow. If you believe the latest reports then money is being withdrawn from cash points around Scotland at a rapid clip – the next thing will be a plague of locusts.

Of course a vote for independence is not going to be a walk in the park. The issue of what currency Scotland is going to use remains a mystery, the market is still pondering the possibility of global investors ditching the rest of the UK on the back of such political uncertainty, which could cause a financial crisis akin to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. Aside from economic questions, the UK’s standing in the world could be damaged if there is a win for the Yes camp.

However, once the country gets over its existential shock, could a Yes vote later this week actually be a good thing for Scotland and elsewhere?

Firstly, Sir Harry Burns, who stepped down as chief medical officer for Scotland, has said that a Yes vote could be good for the Scottish public’s health.  He said that engaging more with local government, and making choices more easily for themselves could have a knock on impact on the health of the nation. Although Burns argues that a Yes vote could protect Scotland from Westminster’s growing calls to privatize some medical services on the NHS, it appears that Scotland’s top medical minds believe that feeling empowered actually has a health benefit.

from Lawrence Summers:

On inequality

Inequality has emerged as a major economic issue in the United States and beyond.

Sharp increases in the share of income going to the top 1 percent of earners, a rising share of income going to profits, stagnant real wages, and a rising gap between productivity growth and growth in median family income are all valid causes for concern. A generation ago, it could have been plausibly asserted that the economy’s overall growth rate was the dominant determinant of growth in middle-class incomes and progress in reducing poverty. This is no longer plausible. The United States may well be on the way to becoming a Downton Abbey economy.

Superstar economics: It’s all showbiz now

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By Laurence Copeland. The opinions expressed are his own.

It seems barely a week goes by without another shock report about the ever-widening gap between those at the top of the earnings distribution and the rest of us. The facts are by now well-established. Throughout the Western world, but most noticeably in Britain and America, the earnings of the top one or two percent are accelerating into the stratosphere, leaving the middle class a long way behind, and the working class completely out of sight. How can one explain this global phenomenon?

Academic economics seems to be taking a surprisingly long time to reach a definitive answer, but I suspect there will turn out to be two long term trends at work here.

Inequality in the UK: the paradox under Labour

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Alastair Murid B0133P 0248-Ali Muriel is a Senior Research Economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The views expressed are his own.-

Start with two (apparently contradictory) facts about income inequality in the UK:

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