The Sun has a fascinating piece today by Trevor Kavanagh, as wise a hack as you can get. He’s proven right more often than not. He had a bet on the oil price with Alex Salmond, who fancies himself as an economist, because he was briefly employed by RBS, the bank he watched as it collapsed under the whip of his good friends, Goodwin and Mathewson.
Eck likes to play the roguish gambler card at times, but lots of people have justified doubts about his success rate, whether it’s the horses or politics. Here’s Kavanagh:
A seasoned gambler, he suggested a $50 bet on a $50 per barrel oil price “at some point in 2015”. And it had to be for Brent Crude, “not some Texan nonsense”. “I am a former RBS oil trader,” he boasted.
Yesterday, the price slid below $50 for the first time in 10 years. “He hasn’t won the bet,” says he.”Desperate Trevor had better wait and not count his chickens. Our bet was on market closing prices. Brent Crude closed last night at $51.1.”
Fair enough. My chickens are safe.
So I bet him double or quits on an even lower price, $40 a barrel. Canny Salmond accepts, but on his terms. “I will double or quits him on the end of year price,” says the Tartan Terror. “The end of year price will be above $50. In 2009 it was $45, three years later it was $120. “Every time there’s an oil price collapse, people like Trevor like to think it’s going to stay there. It’s not.”
I accept the terms. This is not a blip.
Indeed, the issue much is bigger than a few dollars in my pocket or his. It’s about the sort of management Mr Salmond would offer an independent Scotland. He’s as hopeless an economist as he is a gambler. He is quite right to say he budgeted for the oil price after independence in 2016, not today. And that even without oil, Scottish GDP is 99 per cent of UK GDP. “Oil is a bonus,” he says, “not a baseline for the Scottish economy.”
But Scotland already lives off a bonus worth billions from UK taxpayers. It’s called the Barnett Formula. It would disappear once Scotland flew solo. Oil could fill the gap. But only at $110 a barrel as it was during the campaign. Any less and Scots would see taxes rise, not fall. They would see public spending slashed, not increased.
If oil had crashed three months sooner, Alex “Lucky” Salmond would have been exposed as the fraud he is.And the referendum “Yes” vote would have been lucky to have reached double figures.
‘A fraud’ is putting it politely. And as Sophocles said (when discussing Scottish Independence, I think) :
“things gained through unjust fraud are never secure”