Michael Kelly: We may shiver - but the economy will not freeze

This snow has certainly affected my economic activity. I can't get my car out of the drive to attend meetings. My bank branch was closed yesterday resulting in cheques needed to boost my current account balance going uncashed.

My papers have not been delivered for two days now forcing me decide whether to risk the walk on icy pavements to the newsagents. Worst of all Sainsbury's have just phoned cancelling my essential food order.

But in a modern economy I have options. I can Skype my business colleagues or put in a conference call. I can carry out some bank transactions on the internet. I can gather my news electronically. I can get some food in the local shop. These are not perfect substitutes. Face-to-face meetings are more effective. You can't cash cheques by computer. TV news is much less nuanced than the printed word. The local shop does not stock houmous, Benecol or Sudacrem antiseptic healing cream.

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We're simply not set up to handle snow of what we like to think of as Canadian proportions. No wonder the roads are hard packed with ice. The ploughs I have seen in Glasgow run about four inches above the surface and the road behind one of them looks exactly the same as the road in front. But we should not be panicked by the current problem into spending the cash on the right equipment. It would be a complete waste of public money to invest in resources that will only be used every forty years.

The inconveniences are minor. True, they are costing me some psychological distress, though far less than that suffered by the thousands of motorists on the M8 trapped in a nightmarish Hobbesian vision of life in an independent Scotland; nasty, brutish, short and cold.

I know, even Alex doesn't influence the timing of snowfalls. But he often behaves in that God-like manner suggesting he can harness sun, wind and wave to do his bidding and therefore is fair game to the freezing. And this little chill is only a foretaste of what will happen when his green energy programme fails to deliver and a nuclear free Scotland shivers in the dark nursing its feeling of smugness to keep it warm.

It is understandable that parents locked indoors looking after their kids instead of being able to retire to the peace and quiet of their offices should feel a growing sense of frustration. Their bleak moods are deepened by dire predictions of the weather crisis reversing the uncertain recovery of the economy and plunging us into the second part of the feared double-dip recession.

I have good news for them: it ain't going to happen.Setting aside individual irritations that beset us all in these days of inconvenience, by any rational analysis, these unseasonable snowfalls will cause the Scottish economy no lasting damage.

To take such an undramatic stance, is to set one's face against the sensationally gloomy tabloid predictions of losses of output - of up to 20 per cent of GDP a day according to one of our leading accountants. This nonsense has to be debunked as vehemently as any pretensions that Anne Widdecombe has to be to being a dancer or the X Factor being fairer than FIFA.

Last year's big freeze, which ran from around the 17th December until well into the New Year, was initially predicted to cost the UK economy something in the region of more than 7 billion.

Output did drop in the first quarter but was made up in the second. So the predictions that this year will be even worse for growth are simply wrong.

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Not that some individual firms will not be badly hit. The banks have already been clamping down on overdrafts in attempts to right their own mistakes and might well take this opportunity to put weaker firms into liquidation if temporary losses of revenue adversely affect these small firms' already shaky cash flows.

Leaving the Scottish government to concentrate on that task so far beyond their capabilities - that of re-opening our ailing transport networks - the real government would be well advised to hold crises talks with our "nationalised" banks to ease the temporary strain on business.

And temporary it should be with the economy much more flexible than it ever has been. Electronic communication means that many jobs can effectively be done from home - like this one.

Staff motivated by good morale or by fear of losing their jobs in this fragile economy will gladly fill in for those stranded and put in that bit extra to catch up.

And while sales of some goods are down there must be a boom in thermal underwear and shovels. Christmas will not be cancelled.

More interesting is to speculate on the impact on online shopping, up according to John Lewis, 98 per cent against a year earlier.

At first glance it would seem that the snow blocking our access to city centres would give an enormous boost to the growing trend towards internet shopping.

This would be serious for Scotland because, as Brian Ashcroft of the Fraser of Allander Institute pointed out in Scotland on Sunday there are no Scottish representatives in the top 100 UK e-commerce companies, although we do have some distribution centres for such firms' goods based here. Here again is a challenge which our entrepreneurs might be encouraged to take.

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But who is now going to risk ordering from some distant source and trusting the item will arrive in time? Better to brave the snow and beat a path to your favourite shop to collect it yourself.

All of these economic doubts will disappear like snow off a dyke once the thaw comes.The recovery may well falter but it will be for greater factors than a few inches of snow - total retail sales growth has been weak now for eight months in a row.

For myself I think I'd better head off for that newsagent's. Who knows? Maybe someone else has already written all of this. That would be a crisis.