The Australian public have just been told that: The ‘Age of Entitlement’ is over, we have been living beyond our means, we can’t afford to spend more than we earn, we are leaving an unsustainable debt burden for the next generation. Think of a neo-liberal falsehood and the chances are Joe Hockey will have used it in yesterday’s budget speech. Most of all, we are told “we” need to move to balance the budget and achieve a surplus. Note that Joe means a surplus for government and a deficit for everyone else!
If the governments take more out of the economy than they spend back in, as they would by the definition of a surplus, and at the same time individuals and companies within that economy wish to save some of the money they earn, and if there is a drain of money from the economy to pay for net imports, then isn’t that a recipe for crashing the economy, Greek style?
There won’t even be any ‘improvement’ in the deficit. Joe knows that. All sensible economists know that depressing the economy will make it higher not lower. Tax revenues will simply fall by an equal or greater amount than the cuts he has made, as the economy spirals downwards. If he genuinely wants to reduce the deficit, if that is what is really important to him, he needs to press the fiscal accelerator pedal, not puts his foot on the brake. That way the economy grows, the tax take rises, people are more confident to spend and invest more, and as unemployment falls, workers start to pay tax rather than receive welfare benefits. If Joe hasn’t abolished those completely!
Edit: Further reading