Issue 13

ANALYSING, ADVISING, RESEARCHING AND ARGUING

By Prof. Peter McGregor, Director, Fraser of Allander Institute

…..independent, dispassionate approach to policy-relevant economic analysis has remained the hallmark of the Fraser ever since.

The Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI), founded in 1975 and celebrating its 40th anniversary, is set to expand, with a significant new investment in its economic and – importantly – its fiscal analytical capacity. The FAI’s hallmark of informed, independent and impartial analysis and commentary of the Scottish economy will now be added an in-depth analysis of Scotland’s fiscal position, plus an ability to model the fiscal consequences of different policy positions.

Since 1975, the FAI has become a widely-respected contributor to Scottish economic analysis and debate: reporting and offering insights on the performance of the economy; providing analysis in key policy areas; and, helping the private sector to understand the economic impact of their businesses and projects. Importantly, these contributions have all been underpinned by world leading research on a range of important economic, energy and policy issues.

The Fraser is an integral part of the Department of Economics in the Strathclyde Business School (SBS), one of the top 10 Business Schools in the UK.

The founding ethos of the Fraser was to approach real-world economic issues with a commitment, not to any particular pre-determined conclusions or policy recommendations, but simply to improve our understanding of how these conclusions could be better reached and policy development improved. This independent, dispassionate approach to policy-relevant economic analysis has remained the hallmark of the Fraser ever since.

The culture of the Fraser is diverse with a mix of internationally renowned academics, early career researchers and established senior practitioners with a wealth of real-world experience. Indeed the Fraser has been the home to generations of students and academics, many of whom have gone on to highly successful careers as professional economists in academia, the private sector and public policy.

The Fraser’s key activities include:

  • Research (attracting funding from prestigious sources including: Research Councils UK (ESRC and EPSRC); the EU; UK, Scottish and other Government agencies; and, the third and private sectors);
  • Monitoring, Analysis and Commentary on the Scottish economy: opening up economic issues and policy debate in Scotland to a diverse audience; and,
  • Economic Services including commissioned analysis, tailor-made research and knowledge exchange.

This kind of analysis became more important with the establishment of the Scottish Parliament, and the more recent extension of its powers under Calman and now the Smith Commission.

A key resource of the Fraser is its Computable General Equilibrium models of the Scottish economy, which is a key feature of the Institute’s research base. These models allow a more in-depth analysis of the “supply side” policies that have become the focus of regional agencies and policies.

This kind of analysis became more important with the establishment of the Scottish Parliament, and the more recent extension of its powers under Calman and now the Smith Commission. For example, the Scottish Government has adopted one of FAI’s CGE models of the Scottish economy, which it adapts to explore the impact of changing various policy changes. Most recently, research in the Fraser has been focused on developing interregional models of the Scottish and RUK economies to allow an analysis of Scottish fiscal futures, including a consideration of Smith’s “no detriment” principle, and the likely impact of any movement towards a “Scandinavian model” for Scotland. Another research highlight has been the development of a suite of energy-economy-environment models that allow a systematic exploration of energy policy goals and the feasibility of sustainable economic growth.

Undoubtedly a highlight of the Fraser’s public activity is the Fraser Economic Commentary, first published in June 1975. It has been provided a continuing commentary on the economic and related policy issues over forty years. Indeed Alf Young, in a series of three articles under the title of Forty Turbulent Years: How the Fraser Economic Commentary recorded the evolution of the modern Scottish economy, has documented the Commentary’s contributions to our understanding of the Scottish economy and economic policy issues over four decades.

In planning for the next 40 years, the University is embarking on a major investment in the work of the FAI. The University of Strathclyde’s founding ethos is as ‘a place of useful learning’, and an integral part of fulfilling that mission is to support useful research that is targeted at the major Scottish, UK and global economic challenges. It is for this reason, at a time when the Scottish Parliament is gaining significant new powers and responsibilities and the future of the UK’s economic and financial system is undergoing a major re-think, that the University with others is to significantly expand the Fraser to match these new challenges and opportunities; equipping the Institute to provide enhanced commentary on the Scottish economy, in particular in the area of fiscal analysis.

The FAI has built its reputation as Scotland’s most respected independent economic research institute by producing high quality and impartial research, putting it in a unique position to inform the debates that lie ahead. The new capacity we are delivering within the Institute – supported by a world-class Advisory Board – will equip it with the platform to expand its activities, delivering insights and analysis to all of its stakeholders in the public and the private sectors. In doing so, it will build on the strengths of the University of Strathclyde, with its roots in the Scottish Enlightenment.

A key aim for the next phase of the Fraser’s development is to engage more widely and more often with the wider public, and with public policy debates, and while the FAI will always remain independent and impartial, it will use robust analysis and research to inform policymaking to help to build a better society. The Fraser is keen to engage more widely with commercial, public and third sector partners, and we would encourage external partners to think about how we can help them be more impactful and successful.

Professor Peter McGregor
is Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute … until April this year when Graeme Roy will take over that role
fraser@strath.ac.uk
@Strath_FAI

By Prof. Peter McGregor, Director, Fraser of Allander Institute

Issue 13

PREVIOUS ISSUES

Looking for a previous issue? Use the menu below to select an issue.