Much ink has been spilled over Scotland’s currency options in the event of independence. This column argues that a breakup of the sterling area would be truly unprecedented. The sterling union is unique because it services a unitary state with a highly integrated and complex financial sector, an indivisible payments system, and an overlapping legal system. Politics aside, neither a unilateral nor a mutual break-up would be credible, leaving a negotiated currency union as the only option. However, as the Eurozone crisis demonstrates, a badly designed currency union could be exceptionally costly.
Oliver Harvey, George Saravelos, 28 May 2014
Angus Armstrong, Monique Ebell, 26 October 2013
In the debate over Scottish independence, the question of how the UK’s assets and sovereign debt would be divided has received insufficient attention. This column argues that the size of Scotland’s debt obligations would be crucial to its optimal choice of currency. Under plausible assumptions, fiscal tightening would be required to return Scottish debt to sustainable levels, and a self-fulfilling rise in borrowing costs might tempt Scotland to leave the sterling currency union. A debt-for-oil swap might be mutually beneficial for a newly independent Scotland and the continuing UK.
Thorvaldur Gylfason, 21 May 2009
Does every country in Africa need a currency of its own? No. This column describes the monetary zones in-the-making in Africa and how a further reduction of the number of currencies in Africa would likely encourage trade and growth and attract investors who are understandably wary of weak and volatile currencies.