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Scotland: Currency Options and Public Debt


  • Angus Armstrong
  • Monique Ebell


This paper considers which currency option would be best for an independent Scotland. We examine three currency options: being part of a sterling currency zone, adopting the euro, or having an independent currency. No currency option is the best when considered against all criteria. Therefore, making the decision requires deciding which criteria are most important. Recent events around the world, particularly in Europe, show that it is essential to consider how an independent Scotland would seek to adjust to adverse economic circumstances. In economists' terms, it is important to think through the ‘off-equilibrium’ adjustment paths of each of the currency options. The amount of public debt, and so the capacity for a fiscal response, is a critical determinant of these paths and therefore of the optimal currency choice. Since commitment to a currency union by an independent country can only be conditional, an independent Scotland might find it optimal to abandon the currency union in the future if the financial stability advantages to having its own currency begin to outweigh any disadvantages due to trade and transactions costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Angus Armstrong & Monique Ebell, 2014. "Scotland: Currency Options and Public Debt," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 227(1), pages 14-20, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:niesru:v:227:y:2014:i:1:p:r14-r20

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    Cited by:

    1. Ronald MacDonald & Research Fellow CESifo Policy Group Munich, "undated". "An independent Scotland’s currency options redux: Assessing the costs and benefits of currency choice," Working Papers 2014_11, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.

    More about this item


    currency union; monetary union; optimal currency area; debt sustainability; speculative attacks;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration
    • H60 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - General
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt


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