bookmark_borderThe 2015 jobs boom in Scotland

Edinburgh, October 2005 by landhere
Edinburgh, October 2005, a photo by landhere on Flickr.

What will happen in 2015 if Scotland has just voted Yes to independence and if it’s looking increasingly likely that England will vote to pull the rUK out of the EU, and potentially even out of the Internal Market?

A large number of English companies are making their living trading with the EU, and it will be tempting for them to relocate to a country that will remain in the EU before it’s too late. Many countries are likely to benefit from this company exodus, e.g., Ireland and France, but surely the easiest option for many of these companies will be to relocate to Scotland […]

Read the rest of this blog posting on Arc of Prosperity.

bookmark_borderWill Scotland be richer than Norway after independence?

Scottish Thistle Coin 1602 by Tropic~7
Scottish Thistle Coin 1602, a photo by Tropic~7 on Flickr.

There was an extremely interesting blog posting on Wings over Scotland about the size of Scotland’s exports.

This made me think about the consequences for the finances of an independent Scotland.

First of all, the figure provided by WoS is $20,886 per capita, but that’s excluding oil. According to STV, Scotland’s oil and gas exports are worth about £7.6bn, which is about half the amount produced. If we assume that half of this is actually exported to England, we get a rough figure of £11.4bn, which is $18bn. Per capita this is $3400, so a very rough estimate of an independent Scotland’s exports including oil would be slightly more than $24,000 per person, which would make us number six in the World rankings, between Norway and Ireland.

Read the rest of this blog posting on Arc of Prosperity.

bookmark_borderKentucky-fried svinemørbrad

Kentucky fried pork
Originally uploaded by PhylB

Som jeg nævnte i et andet blogindlæg, havde vi forleden besøg af min søster med mand og barn.

Jeg syntes, jeg hellere måtte købe noget lækkert til aftensmad, når de nu var her, og de havde tilbud på svinemørbrad i Metro (eller Makro, som det hedder herovre), så jeg fik fem mørbrader til ca. 100 kr. i alt.

Danskere plejer at regne mørbrad for noget meget fint, men i mange andre lande regnes det for at være lidt for fedtfattigt, så jeg kiggede lidt i mine forskellige kogebøger for at få inspiration.

I “Joy of Cooking” fandt jeg så en opskrift på “Kentucky-fried pork tenderloin”, som så interessant ud, og det var den bestemt også. Her er den i fordoblet udgave (til 12 personer):

  • 2 spsk sød paprika
  • 1 spsk salt
  • 1 spsk stødt sort peber
  • 1 tsk hvidløgspulver
  • 1 tsk tørret salvie
  • 1 tsk tørret oregano
  • 1 tsk sennepspulver
  • 1 tsk stødt rød peber (hvad det nu så end er)
  • 1400 g svinemørbrad
  • olie
  • mel
  • 5 dl mælk
  1. Hver svinemørbrad skæres i seks lige store stykker, og hvert stykke skæres næsten helt igennem, så det bliver sommerfugleformet.
  2. Alle krydderierne blandes, og kødet marineres i krydderiblandingen i 30-60 minutter.
  3. Kødstykkerne vendes i mel og steges 6 mm olie i 3-4 minutter på hver side.
  4. De stegte kødstykker lægges på et fad og holdes varme.
  5. Det meste af olien hældes væk, og mælken tilsættes. Det koges, til man får en god sovs. (Jeg var nødt til også at tilsætte kulør og maizena for at få et godt resultat.) Sovsen hældes over kødstykkerne.

Iflg. kogebogen kan man servere dem til morgenmad med scones, til frokost med boller, coleslaw og tomatskiver, eller til aftensmad med kartoffelgratin og grønlangkål. Vi spiste dem nu med coleslaw og bagte kartofler, og det smagte også glimrende. Selv Marcel, der normalt ikke er ret glad for svinekød (bortset fra bacon), var meget begejstret.

bookmark_borderCameron’s referendum folly

I really don’t understand what Cameron is trying to achieve by trying to renegotiate the EU membership terms and then holding a referendum with only two options: the new terms or leaving the EU altogether (without any option to opt for full EU membership instead).

I could understand if he was threatening his EU colleagues that he’d hold a referendum if they didn’t allow a renegotiation, but what is the incentive for other EU leaders to waste time and money renegotiating the membership terms when it’s quite likely the UK will go for a Norwegian solution anyway?

If I was Merkel or Hollande, I’d say no to renegotiation (or at the most give Cameron the tiniest opt-out possible), and tell the UK put up or pull out. Giving in to Cameron would just create a precedent for other countries that you can get your way by threatening to leave, and they’d probably benefit from companies relocating to the continent to stay within the EU.

Furthermore, there is a decent chance that the UK after a decade in the Norwegian Limbo would ask to become a member again, at which time the EU could decide to allow the UK back in only if they signed up to the full package without any opt-outs.

Apart from this, does Cameron really think the British economy really needs five years of uncertainty, during which time very few companies will create EU jobs in the UK? Obviously, it’s an important decision that would need to be discussed in detail, but this is pushing it.

From a Scottish point of view, I hope Cameron’s referendum will convince many undecided voters that it’s actually less risky to vote Yes to independence in 2014 than to vote No, simply because an independent Scotland will be more likely to be an EU member in 2020 than the UK.

It also brilliantly exposes the hypocrisy of many of the Better Together campaigners, who have been accusing the Scottish Government of doing exactly what they’re doing themselves now.

bookmark_borderFour varieties of Kölsch

Beer tasting competition
Originally uploaded by PhylB

My sister recently visited us together with her husband and their daughter for a few days.

Bjørn’s mum is originally from Cologne, so he was very interested when he heard I had brewed a Kölsch clone, given that Kölsch is Cologne’s own type of beer.

They therefore brought me a bottle and a can of real Kölsch, and together with a bottle that Phyllis’s old friend Shona brought back from Cologne recently, we were able to conduct a scientific tasting of four varieties of Kölsch:

  1. Gaffel Kölsch
  2. Reissdorf Kölsch
  3. Küppers Kölsch
  4. Buchwider Bräu ??

The winner was the Küppers, but my ?? gave it a run for its money, whereas both Bjørn and I agreed that the Reissdorf and especially the Gaffel were much worse.

Technically speaking, mine is a “Wieß”, i.e., a cloudy Kölsch, so it was easy to recognise it from the way it looked, but otherwise the main difference between it and the Küppers was a slight hint of banana on the nose.

For a first attempt at brewing Kölsch, I must say I’m very happy to have beaten two out of three real ones.

bookmark_borderYou can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics

Leaf Cutter Ants
Originally uploaded by Micah & Erin

I was reading The Economist’s featured article on innovation pessimism yesterday. It’s very interesting, and definitely worth reading.

Before I read it, I said to my beloved wife that it isn’t very surprising if innovation is grinding to a halt, given how scientists are underpaid and ridiculed while footballers, reality TV stars and mediocre musicians are treated like demigods, and youngsters spend their time on their phone and on Facebook rather than reading books and newspapers.

However, after reading the article I’m sitting here wondering why the advent of the computer age hasn’t led to an upsurge in productivity. The article in The Economist doesn’t really answer this and optimistically hopes that we’re just seeing a temporary blip before productivity and GDP start skyrocketing again.

However, I can’t help thinking that perhaps it’s something else. It used to be the case that manufacturers would produce new and better products all the time, so that you needed to upgrade your old product. The new one would often be more expensive because of the improved functionality, so prices would go up, and because salaries were index-linked, they would rise too, and everybody would get richer and richer. These days, innovation mainly goes into products that don’t cost much. If you’re using Facebook, you’re always using the latest version. It’s not like people will laugh at the old Facebook in your living room, and you’ll feel obliged to buy a new and better Facebook. So there is no cycle of rising prices and salaries, just a cycle of new and better products at the same price as before.

I’m also wondering about the effect of globalisation. In the old days, developing countries would acquire the old technology of the rich countries just as the latter were creating new products. If this pattern had still been in existence, the outsourcing of manufacturing to India and China would have gone hand-in-hand with the rise of computer programming exclusively in the West. In other words, we’d be exporting computer programs to them while importing manufactured products, and the rich world would remain ahead. However, now programming can be done just as easily in Asia as here, and we don’t seem to be developing anything new that we’re better at than them. Surely the consequence of this will be that we can’t maintain much higher salaries in the West in the longer term, which will be a very painful adjustment.

Finally, I can’t help thinking that a larger and larger part of humanity is essentially redundant. Of course some people will need to work in menial jobs that cannot be automated (yet), for instance producing food or collecting rubbish, and other people will have very rewarding jobs on the top, creating entertainment (music, TV and smartphone apps) for the entire planet. However, a lot of people in the middle aren’t smart enough to be at top but won’t be needed in farming and production. Are we perhaps getting to a situation where we need to create jobs simply to keep people occupied and the economy ticking along? Should we abolish unemployment benefit and similar welfare payments and instead give entrepreneurs a lot of money simply to employ people? Or should we just introduce a citizen’s income?

bookmark_borderIrvine Welsh: “Better together? Yes, certainly, but better independent and free together.”

IRVINE WELSH: IN PERSON, a photo by EIFF on Flickr.

Bella Caledonia has today published an original article by Irvine Welsh (of Trainspotting fame).

It’s a very thoughtful piece by a writer who has spent a long time in England, and I strongly recommend reading the whole thing.

Please visit Arc of Prosperity to read the full blog post.