Friday, 11 July 2014

Business as Usual

A month or so ago, Barack Obama, at Cameron’s urging, made an intervention in the debate on Scottish independence, making it clear that he saw advantages to the US in having a strong united partner.  (That’s an argument that might work for some, although whether providing the sort of strong united partner that the US might want is a good argument against independence depends a great deal on one’s perspective.)
It seems that Obama had previously declined a similar invitation from Spain’s PM, Mariano Rajoy, but the US ambassador to Spain, James Costos, did comment on the question of Catalan independence last week.  His comments were, however, rather more equivocal.  Even so, he subsequently tried to backtrack a little to appear, if possible, even more equivocal.
The key point he made was a very simple and obvious one, which is that if things change, then companies adapt to those changes.
He’s right, and Independence, whether for Scotland or Catalonia, is inarguably a change in circumstances which would call for adaptation; but actually, independence itself isn’t really going to be much of an issue for most companies.  More important for them will be the taxation and regulatory policies pursued by the independent governments after independence.
Whilst the leaders of some companies – as we’re seeing in Scotland at present – are making bold statements about the implications for independence and what they’ll do in response, much of this is hot air based on using the companies which they lead to provide a platform for expression of their own political prejudices.  What any company which seeks to be successful will actually do after independence will be based on a much more careful and rational assessment of the nature of the new regime under which they’ll be working.  And given that Scotland is certain to remain in the EU with all the same rules about the single market, the likelihood has to be that they’ll carry on as though nothing has happened.

No comments: