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Herald View

"THE Scottish economy is now enjoying a strong recovery ..."

"THE Scottish economy is now enjoying a strong recovery ..."

This is the statement with which Professor Brian Ashcroft kicks off the latest economic commentary from Strathclyde University's Fraser of Allander Institute. So far, so good.

However, he does not even get to the end of the opening sentence before the caveats come thick and fast.

He cites the risks of a continuing lack of balance in the economic recovery in Scotland and the UK as a whole, falling real wages, booming prices in the London housing market, and deflation in the eurozone.

Mr Ashcroft also highlights the fact that the recovery continues to be considerably weaker than any since the 1930s.

He also flags the fact that household debt levels, as a percentage of income, remain high.

And Fraser of Allander, while noting the fall in the unemployment rate in Scotland to 6.6 per cent on the International Labour Organisation measure, observes many people are having to take part-time positions because they cannot find full-time work.

The same point has been made by others, including Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.

We should perhaps afford ourselves the luxury of a sigh of relief on reading the first part of Mr Ashcroft's sentence, that recovery has at long last got under way. After all, it has been a long haul, with the scale and mix of the Coalition Government's austerity programme having almost certainly impeded progress.

Having said that, no-one should under-estimate the reality or scale of the risks cited by Mr Ashcroft.

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