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Tags: Scotland | independence | UK

Scots Breakaway at 45 Percent as Economists Issue Warning

Monday, 15 September 2014 06:38 AM EDT

Scotland’s nationalists have a 45 percent chance of winning the independence referendum this week and there’s a risk of a capital flight from the country if that happens, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists.

Asked to quantify the odds of a “yes” and “no” vote in the Sept. 18 ballot, economists said there is a 55 percent probability the anti-independence Better Together campaign will win, according to the median of 31 responses. If the nationalists succeed, the biggest risks cited were investors pulling money out of Scotland, finding a currency solution and how U.K. debt will be shared.

Prime Minister David Cameron returns to Scotland today as campaigning for the referendum reaches its climax. Voters in Scotland will decide whether to break up the union after more than three centuries. Polls show the race is too close to call.

“However well Scotland fares in the long term, a vote for independence would be likely to result in a serious near-term hit,” said Howard Archer, chief U.K. and European economist at IHS Global Insight in London. “Undoubtedly money would flow out of the country.”

Counting in the referendum will begin after polling closes at 10:00 p.m. local time on Sept. 18, with the result expected early the next morning.

Tight Vote

Four polls were released over the weekend, of which three showed the “no” campaign ahead. An ICM Research survey for the Sunday Telegraph put “yes” ahead by the greatest ever margin, leading by eight percentage points, 54 percent to 46 percent, when excluding undecided voters, though it had a smaller-than- usual number of respondents. Among the other polls, one by Opinium Research for the Observer newspaper showed “no” leading 53 percent to 47 percent.

The Bloomberg survey was carried out Sept. 5-11. Asked to pick the biggest risk in the event of a “yes” vote, 75 percent of economists said capital flight, with 63 percent saying how Scotland and the remainder of the U.K. will divide up assets and liabilities, including North Sea oil and gas revenue and public debt.

Seventy-eight percent of economists said the biggest uncertainty is what currency Scotland would use. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has said the country could continue to use the pound, though all three main U.K. political parties have rejected the idea of a currency union.

Economists said the most likely outcome is the creation of a Scottish currency that’s pegged to sterling, with so-called sterlingization -- where Scotland would informally use the pound -- the second most likely. The third-ranked solution is a floating Scottish currency, with a sterling union in fourth place.

Separately today, property website Zoopla said a victory for the nationalists could wipe 31,000 pounds ($50,000), or 17 percent, off the average house price in Scotland, currently about 177,600 pounds.

“Uncertainty is never good for markets,” Zoopla said. “It’s possible that after all the efforts to create a sustainable recovery, a ‘‘yes’’ vote could reverse the recent gains.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Fergal O’Brien in London at [email protected] To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fergal O’Brien at [email protected] Andrew Atkinson, Eddie Buckle

© Copyright 2023 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Scotland's nationalists have a 45 percent chance of winning the independence referendum this week and there's a risk of a capital flight from the country if that happens, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists.
Scotland, independence, UK
Monday, 15 September 2014 06:38 AM
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