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These are stories Report on Business is following Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014.

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You'll take the high road
Iceland toyed with the idea of adopting the Canadian dollar.

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So, hey, maybe the Scots should think outside the box, too, as they ponder the economic fallout should they vote "Yes" in today's independence referendum.

Particularly since Britain has oft warned that it wouldn't allow a sovereign Scotland to use the pound.

Here's something for the Scots to consider as they cast their ballots in a pitched battle that the polls say is too close to call: Canadian Tire money.

1. It's already semi-Scottish. Sandy McTire, who even sports a tam, has graced the company's loyalty-rewards currency since 1961.

2. We've already got a province called Nova Scotia.

3. Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz may have said just this week that "trying to control the loonie is off the table." But he didn't say anything about the Canadian Tire dollar.

4. If the Scots vote "No," they keep Mark Carney as their central bank chief. If they vote "Yes," they get Mr. Poloz. So they're going to get a Canadian either way.

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5. Nobody calls it the loonie.

6. The government doesn't own our banks. Or Canadian Tire.

7. Here's what Moody's says about the company and its paper: "Its proprietary 'currency,' Canadian Tire money, which is a by-product of its loyalty program, has been accepted across Canada by multiple retailers and could almost be described as a 'sub-fiat' currency."

8. Canadian Tire money is tried and true. It's 56 years old. And in 1961, the company started printing it on "genuine bank note paper" via the British American Bank Note Co. (Oops. "British." Forget that.)

9. It comes in very small denominations, from 5 cents all the way up to $2, and more than $1-billion has been in circulation over time.

10. It's now electronic, too, so the ocean is no barrier.

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11. Justin Bieber has no Scottish ancestry in his blood, just French, German, English and Irish, according to Wikipedia. So no one would hold the Scots in any way accountable.

12. There's a store called The Wee Tartan Shop in the Toronto area.

13. The Scots could learn how to skate. (And face off against Mr. Carney.)

Markets await outcome
The pound was up today as markets await results of the vote and bet on "No."

"There seems to be a good amount of complacency in markets on the referendum result which could feed into a more exaggerated response if there is a 'Yes' vote and perhaps a more muted one should it be a 'No,'" said analyst Jasper Lawler of CMC Markets in London.

"The FTSE 100 is less than 100 points from multi-year highs; if investors were truly taking precaution over the result you'd imagine it'd be a bit lower," he added.

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"Most FTSE 100 companies don't do a lot of business in Scotland but the uncertainty of a 'Yes' vote could push stock prices lower and the stock price declines of those businesses who have strong ties could easily do substantial damage to the market as a whole."

Market analyst Craig Erlam of Alpari today noted that "people seem very confident" that the "No" side will win, particularly given the economic ramifications.

"While a lot of Scots may like the idea of independence, which is completely understandable, I think a lot won't be able to get past the fact that Alex Salmond and the "Yes" campaign were not able to give any guarantees on key issues such as currency, central bank and EU membership," he said.

"The lack of a plan B has seriously damaged the chances of Scotland getting independence and the country may now have to wait a long time to get another chance."

Penn West to restate
Penn West Petroleum Ltd.'s probe of its own financial irregularities has led to a multimillion-dollar reduction in the reported amount of cash it generated in recent years and sharply higher operating costs, but the oil producer says it remains on side with lenders and can move forward with its drilling plans, The Globe and Mail's Jeffrey Jones reports.

The results of Penn West's internal investigation, stemming from the discovery of misclassified items on its books earlier this year, show it appears to have avoided the worst fears over its financial condition and can resume a restructuring to improve operations and to reduce costs under chief executive David Roberts.

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The review determined that tens of millions of dollars in operating expenses were incorrectly recorded as property, plant and equipment outlays from 2012 to the first quarter of 2014. Large amounts of operational spending were also transferred to the royalties column.

As a result of the discoveries, Penn West said it lowered its reported cash flow over the period by $190-million and increased its reported operating costs by $367-million. There was no impact on the company's debt levels.

Turbulent skies
Air Canada is following in rival WestJet Airlines Ltd.'s jet wash, today unveiling a $25 fee for first-checked bags on some flights.

The Canadian airline said it will slap the fee on domestic flights, and those to and from the Caribbean and Mexico.

WestJet unveiled its own fee earlier this week.

Analysts estimate the fee will add between $50-million and $75-million to Air Canada's annual revenue, roughly the same amount it will generate for WestJet, The Globe and Mail's Greg Keenan reports.

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