Currency Explained

Still pondering currency? Then you are doing Better Together’s job for them. All they want is that single question to hang there seemingly unanswered, so the mass of people who won’t bother to research it believe there is an issue. And it means they can say to Yes folk What’s your Plan B…


On the other hand, we need answers – be nice to get some from the No side for a change but the media ain’t interested in that game.

This week my radio programme asked Crawford Beveridge to come into the studio. He chaired the government’s fiscal commission which came up with the currency union option and still sticks to it. Crawford is an American Scot who divides his time between California and Scotland and is a successful businessman. He doesn’t talk flannel. His voice is that of a man who knows how the world works, how money is made, what business needs and who believes there is nothing to stop Scotland freeing itself from grip of London control to become a successful rich nation.


Here he does an explainer of the currency issue. It’s part of a half hour conversation with me in which we touch other topics including his worries if the UK leaves Europe – a serious business hazard. Tune in at

Get in touch and tell me if it helped you understand the question and reassured you about currency

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10 thoughts on “Currency Explained

  1. Thanks for such a useful interview. Helpful for us down in England to hear it too. I’m worried about independence, not because of attitudes in Scotland, but because of UK Govt ministers acting like bears with a sore head in the aftermath, and making decisions which are stupid for us all.

    On the currency issues, Danny Alexander ran a Facebook Q & A the other day on “You Decide”. I asked him:

    “Why has the UK Govt ruled out a currency union now, when so much could change in the international economy between now and March 2016?” (Prudence, at least, would dictate a wait-and-see approach.)

    Despite answering a lot of stupid Qs, he didn’t answer mine. I can’t think of any answer to it which would avoid embarrassment for the No campaign.

  2. British Companies will still want to trade with Scotland without. Paying for currency charges and going through checkpoints designed to hamper Scots busine
    sses but offcourse is a two way street and rules apply to all.
    This would cost Businesses an excess and the British Government money to run these checkpoints so Brittish businesses and the tax payer will not want to pay for all this just so Westminster can be petty and childish with Scotland !!
    These Bininesses will force Westminster to back down as nobody wants to pay for what they could be doing for free.
    Darling is fully aware off this and built his entire first debate on a lie and scaremongering which I believe completely discredits Better Togethers campaign as Farcical.
    Scotland’s GDP is higher than what we get back from Westminster so we would both be richer and financially safer with a currency union Independent.
    Wise up and Vote Yes.

  3. A good question and the answer of course is that a prudent business or government wouldn’t categorically rule anything out. They simply can’t afford to and call themselves a competent business or government. In order to maintain sustainable stability both governments and business must be agile and adaptable, amenable to new ideas or change in circumstance.

    Which begs the second question. If the three main parties of Westminster are to be taken seriously, just why did they collectively rule out a Sterling zone agreement with an independent partner who on the face of it would be a cash and resource rich asset with a long history of friendly relations? Could the clue be in the word independent? Does losing control of those assets drive the current stance? Standard & Poor’s risk assessment gave an independent Scotland a creditworthy thumbs up. They have no axe to grind or stake in this debate, their assessment is based on cold numbers, they wouldn’t be doing their job otherwise and certainly would risk their reputation. So the choice is who to believe at this point HMGs assessment of an independent Scotland’s creditworthiness or S&Ps.

  4. Really interesting and broad interview with Crawford Beveridge.

    If we could build a structure of investment in small businesses that was not reliant on the current, short-term outlook, banking system *and* look to build a society that saw a living wage as a minimum basic standard than we would truly have the roots of a robust economy that could weather all sorts of economic shocks.

    This vision is far more likely to transpire in a more manageable economy like an independent Scotland.

  5. Different people use the marriage analogy in describing the Scottish/English relationship and the BTNT then use that to introduce their devastating knock-out blow that Scotland can’t expect to use the joint account after a divorce. I have heard Brown/Murphy/ Alexander launch this as their killer blow.

    This is such a weak debating point that I am surprised that I have never heard the ‘Yes’ side come back with the more than devastating rejoinder that Scotland does not have a joint account – we have pocket money. How can we have a joint account when we have no independent access to it.

    This is not a marriage in any meaningful sense.

    • I agree. It was as a result of an international treaty between two independent partners. If one partner now wishes to terminate the treaty then logically you no longer have a treaty agreement. So the treaty must be re-negotiated, dissolved. This is different from a marriage where you need the agreement of both partners before you can dissolve the marriage. (Though of course you can unilaterally walk out of a marriage any time – but you also walk out of any shared assets).

      A better analogy would be a business merger. This was in fact what the Union was, there was no love there, it was simply a business deal. For a while it seemed like Scots got something worthwhile out of it and seemed to be heading in the same direction. Now our interests diverge, and our assets are being stripped.

  6. I manage when I go abroad to work with those weird foreign currencies. I give them the currency, they give me what I asked for. The only problem is that I have to translate it into £p to get a feel for the “real” cost.

    I remember it was like that when we went decimal. it was much the same,but it didn’t take long for me to get used to that there newfangled decimal coinage.

    I reckon if I could do it in 72, I can manage it now.

    So if they won’t do union, that is just fine with me – especially if we do not have a lender of last resort – I have zero desire to bail the banks out for a second time.

  7. Acording to the idiot Ed Balls, Scotland’s only option now is to join the Euro.

  8. The matter of currency is not of great concern. Nor should it be. If we are not in a currency union then we will manage. The currency union looks to me like a plan to choose to handcuff oneself to a man holding a large block of concrete while standing on a bridge parapet, having once escaped such a predicament. Maybe not the best idea, even in the short term. The use of sterling outside of a currency union would work. Lots of countries do this with the dollar. I have seen the idea mocked by people disparagingly comparing such an arrangement to Panama using the dollar. I tend to do my own research rather than reiterating something I have read. (That’s what public libraries and Kipling will do.)
    I had a look at the figures for Panama and the UK in the CIA Factbook. The CIA can be trusted on this as they will surely need to know the facts about any country whose Government they are subverting.
    I have picked some figures to give a comparison of some economic statistics.
    GDP real annual growth rate, Panama 7.5% UK 1.8%
    GDP per capita, Panama $16500, UK $37000
    Industrial Production Growth Rate, Panama 9.2% UK -0.3%
    Unemployment Rate, Panama 4.5%, UK 7.2%
    Population below poverty line, Panama 26%, UK 16.2%
    Public Debt % of GDP, Panama 39.8%, UK 91.1%
    When looking at these figures it is worth keeping in mind that 200 years ago Panama was virgin jungle, whereas the UK was the foundry of the Industrial Revolution and the home of the Enlightenment.
    Not all the figures are in favour of Panama; what is surprising and shameful is that any of them are.
    After hundreds of years of industrial growth, gaining and losing a world-wide Empire, the people of the UK are twice as heavily in debt, with twice as many unemployed as a banana republic carved out of the Central American jungle almost within living memory. And Panama does not have any oil.
    So using a trading currency without being tied to a Central Bank/lender of last resort may not be all bad.
    It may encourage our bankers to be prudent and canny, and result i more individuals putting more money into Credit Unions.

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