Cover of MoneyWeek magazine issue no 707

Bye-bye Britain? What independence would mean for investors

4 September 2014 / Issue 707

Could an independent Scotland become the next Singapore, or would a 'Yes' vote be an act of national self-harm? Merryn Somerset Webb investigates. Read this week's cover story here.

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Excerpt

Merryn Somerset WebbEDITOR'S LETTER

Merryn Somerset Webb

Why I’m for No in the Scottish referendum

I have written before about how it is a waste of time to offer personal finance classes in schools. There is no point in teaching anyone about different types of mortgage 20 years before they take one out. Better to teach them maths properly so that they have the tools to manage when the time comes.

However, I do wish that basic economics was compulsory in schools. Why? Because I can’t see how anyone can be a rational voter without some grasp of how economies work. This has been brought home to me by the miserably low level of debate about the Scottish referendum.

Very few people seem to know the difference between the pound and the Bank of England. The UK government hasn’t said that Scotland can’t use the pound. Anyone can use the pound. What it has said is that Scotland can’t use the pound and, outside a formal currency union, use the Bank of England as a lender of last resort and to set monetary policy.

This key point appears to have passed many voters by. So have the mechanisms by which interest rates are set; the difference between government deficits and government debts; and the way countries raise money in the international markets.

This means that far too many people will be voting on something hugely important on 18 September without the tools to understand the implications.

Our cover story this week looks at the implications of a Yes vote. It seems to us they aren’t that good.

• Read the full editor’s letter here: Why I’m for No in the Scottish referendum