The dawning of a new year gives the contrasting opportunity to both reflect on what has gone and that which lies ahead.
Last year started off with warnings of triple dips but became the year in which the UK finally started to get back to its feet after a turgid post-recession period for which the phrase ‘one step forward, three steps back’ really seemed to have been tailor made.
In the third quarter, UK GDP growth was the strongest of the G7 economies, there was improvement in the labour market in Scotland employment up, unemployment and economic inactivity down and you couldn’t turn a corner without a report from someone or other stating that confidence was on the rise as the roots of recovery became further embedded.
By the time Scotland’s chief economist Gary Gillespie’s State of the Economy report came round last month, the optimism had continued to grow and we were told output was set to be stronger in 2014 with the economy finally set to surpass pre-recession levels.
That indeed will be a milestone to savour but I think it is important to point out at this stage that the UK’s economic recovery, while undoubtedly growing in strength in stature, remains a fragile beast.
Last year’s upturn was built on the rather shaky foundation of consumer spend.
It was about people digging deeper into their pockets and loosening the purse strings a little.
That will remain a key economic driver throughout 2014 but if the recovery is to be sustained in the medium to longer term there needs to be a more stable platform upon which to build.
We need to innovate more, build more, produce more and, vitally, export more in order to secure the recovery we all crave.
For that to occur, it is the corporate purse strings that must be loosened in 2014 more than domestic ones.
For years many of the UK’s largest corporations have been bolstering their balance sheets in order to ensure they had a cash buffer big enough to see them through the lean times.
If they can be persuaded to invest heavily in everything from state-of-the-art products to major infrastructure works then there is real reason to believe the ground made last year can be built upon in the months ahead.
Again, however, a word of caution.
The path to recovery has been littered with false dawns and there is no reason to suspect it will be any less bumpy in 2014.
The Bank of England has pumped a huge amount of money some £375 billion no less to prop up the economy in recent years but that was always going to be a plaster on the wound rather than a permanent fix.
Interest rates are at a historic low, a factor in the pick up in the construction sector along with Help to Buy incentives, but that also cannot last forever as savers continue to be punished.
But I suspect that by the time I come to write this column in a year’s time, the biggest bump on the road to economic recovery will have been the Scottish referendum on independence.
September’s poll has already had an impact on decisions made in boardrooms both north and south of the border and perhaps in some directors’ suites overseas too.
In the months ahead there will be no stopping the Yes and the No camps telling us how the referendum will boost or bust Scotland’s economy.
But the real truth is there is no way to tell what the impact of the poll will be, or how it will manifest itself, whatever the outcome.
So as we go into 2014, what is clear is the economy is on a stronger footing but the recovery is not secured and cannot be taken for granted.
The only thing I can be certain about is there are more uncertain times ahead.