Prof Andrew Hughes-Hallett
Prof Andrew Hughes-Hallett
BBC TV 29 Nov 2013 source page HERE
The leading economist, Prof Andrew Hughes-Hallett, has set out his thinking on the Scottish government's independence vision, ahead of next September's referendum.
Prof Hughes-Hallett, an expert in economics and public policy at George Mason University in the US, said small European countries had done "proportionately better" than bigger ones in recent years, partly because their problems were more manageable and it was easier to introduce new policies.
The academic, who is also a member of the Scottish government's council of economic advisers, said that, during the Czech/Slovak split in 1993 - which happened without a referendum - two years were set aside to make the transition, adding: "Having done it, they found it was much easier than they thought and both economies prospered without any doubt.
"You can go into the reasons in their case why that was, you can go into the reasons why you might expect that in the case of Scotland and the rest of the UK.
"If there are enough strong trading relationships between the two parts and you put in place enough framework to stabilise the financial arrangements, there's no reason why this shouldn't proceed very positively."
'Out of control'
On the Scottish government's plan to operate a "currency union" with the rest of the UK, under which Scotland would keep the pound and retain the services of the Bank of England, Prof Hughes-Hallett said the question would be, what arrangement would be acceptable to both sides.
"There's nothing which the Bank of England or the British government could do to stop Scotland using the pound if she so wished," he said.
"It might not be very desirable, as opposed to a jointly-run, that's to say a multi-bilateral arrangement, by agreement between the two countries."
Prof Hughes-Hallett, also a professor of economics at St Andrews University, said one concern might be the possibility of the central bank being called to bail out a government in trouble because it allowed its fiscal policy to run out of control.
He added: "At the moment, that's a far greater worry for Scotland that the UK fiscal position would run out of control than it is for the UK worrying about the Scottish position, if for no other reason because the rest of the UK is 10 times bigger."
'Race to bottom'
The Scottish government has raised the prospect of cutting corporation tax in an independent Scotland to boost the economy, although opponents have warned the move could spark a "race to the bottom", as other nations sought to compete for business by reducing theirs.
Prof Hughes-Hallett said US states had different corporation tax rates, explaining: "What actually happens is, the populations in those states demand a certain level of public spending and social services, or whatever it is, and therefore you get yourself into real trouble with the population and your voters if you reduce the corporation tax too much so that's its obvious you can't provide the services you just promised.
"So, in practice you don't get that kind of race to the bottom."
On 18 September 2014, voters in the referendum will be asked the yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"
You can follow our (BBC) coverage of the Scottish independence referendum on the Scotland's Future index.