If there is a recovery in the Scottish economy, it is a vulnerable one.
Rather than the march into the economic uplands the supporters of austerity had hoped for, it is a cautious, nervy walk across a sheet of ice. We are heading into a recovery of sorts, but there are cracks underfoot.
What has fuelled talk of recovery is the fact that many of the economic indicators have been encouraging in recent months and continue to be so. According to the latest predictions from the Fraser of Allander Institute, Scotland's economy will grow by 1.3% this year.
This is an upgrading of the institute's previous forecast and is based on better-than-expected data on household spending and an increase in optimism among businesses. Following five successive quarters of GDP growth, it is the kind of forecast that could easily lead to the assumption that a long-term recovery is underway.
However, the critical phrase is 'long-term'. The economy has been more robust in recent months, but there are questions about how sustainable any recovery will be. This is because it looks like it is largely based on some of the sectors that led us to disaster five years ago, in particular consumer spending and housing.
On consumer spending, we know the recovery is largely based on this sector, but the critical question is: what kind of spending is it? Real incomes are continuing to fall so where is the spending coming from? Could it be from increased debt rather than increased incomes? The answer to that question can probably be found in the proliferation of pawn shops on the high street or the number of adverts for pay-day loan companies.
The suspicion must be that the rise in household spending is based either on increased debt or consumers digging into their savings. Whichever it is, it is not a credible long-term basis for recovery because, eventually, savings will run out or consumers will reach the upper limit of their credit. The danger then is that household spending will go into reverse and the shopping-based recovery will go flat.
On the housing market too, there is good news laced with danger. Figures from Registers of Scotland this week showed that there has been a sharp rise in the number of property sales. In fact, house sales are at their highest level for five years.
But, again, there is a nagging question about economic growth based on more house sales. With interest rates so low, and consumer confidence slowly heading upwards, there is the danger of another housing bubble and we know that bubbles cannot grow indefinitely. Eventually, they burst.
We also know there are more sustainable and reliable foundations for the recovery available but the evidence is that not enough is being done to exploit them. Export performance, for example, is still unconvincing; on manufacturing, too, the most recent figures show there has been a slowdown in the rate of growth.
Employment does offer some hope, although many employers have only kept their staff in work by cutting severely into pay and pensions, which again rings alarms bells for the future.
Amid all these warnings, it is important not to be too negative about economic recovery. But it has to be the right sort of recovery.
House sales and consumer spending should be part of the solution but they cannot form the two major planks of growth.If so, there will always be the danger of collapse even as the economy grows. It has happened before and it could happen again.
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