Commenting on the Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement today that is likely to rule out an English currency union with an independent Scotland, the Adam Smith Institute’s Research Director Sam Bowman said:

“An independent Scotland would not need England’s permission to continue using the pound sterling, and in fact would be better off using the pound without such permission.

“There is very little that an English government would actually be able to do to stop Scottish people from continuing to use the pound sterling if they wanted to.

“As the American economist George Selgin has pointed out, what the Prime Minister really means is that the Bank of England would not act as a guarantor for Scottish banks or the Scottish government. Lucky Scotland: the implied promise of a bailout from the European Central Bank is exactly what allowed Eurozone banks and governments to borrow cheaply and get themselves into a debt crisis.

“Scotland’s position would be closer to that of countries like Panama, Ecuador and El Salvador, which use the US Dollar without American “permission”, and, according to research by the Federal Reserve of Atlanta, consequentially have far more prudent and stable financial systems than if they were part of a formal currency union.

“An independent Scotland that used the pound as its base currency without the English government’s permission, with banks continuing to issue notes privately and private citizens free to choose any currency they wanted, would probably have a more stable financial system and economy than England itself.

“It’s up to Scots to decide whether they want independence, but the Chancellor’s announcement today should be seen as a feature, not a bug.”

For further comment email sam@adamsmith.org or phone 02072224995.

The Adam Smith Institute is an independent libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.