Richard Murphy published an interesting article “On budget surpluses and the economic illiteracy of the Fiscal Charter” yesterday in which he made several important points such as “we need deficits because people want to buy gilts” and “if the government runs a surplus someone else has to run a deficit”.
Absolutely right and well said, Richard! I hope everyone who’s even the slightest bit worried about our deficit and so-called “national debt” reads this very important piece of what will be ‘news’ to them. Maybe John McDonnell has finally seen the light? There’s nothing wrong with a a change of mind when new evidence and new arguments compel that. Intelligent people change their views all the time as more information becomes avaialble.
The question to be resolved, and I must admit I’m not totally clear on the answer, is if we should sell gilts. Is the fact that people want to buy them a good enough reason to sell them? Why can’t we just allow people to put their money on deposit. Offer the a fixed interest rate, say 2%, and tell them “That’s it. Take it or leave it”.
Some would say 2% was way too high. We should pay 0%. So what will happen then? If we discourage people saving, deliberately creating enough inflation to make 0% , or even 2% very unattractive, we’ll theoretically have no deficits at all.
Because Government Deficit = Savings of the Non-Government
Is that what people really want? Is George Osborne aware that what he needs to do to achieve his surplus is create more inflation and stop selling gilts?