Tag Archives: budget surplus

Balancing the Budget !

As election time draws near in the UK , and the US presidential election campaigns start to get underway across the Atlantic,  we’ll no doubt hear a lot about this topic shortly, if we haven’t already.  Apologies if you’ve heard this all before but the political and economic mainstream still don’t grasp it. Political parties will accuse their opponents of making “unfunded promises”, and of having “black holes” in their budgets etc . Nations’ finances will be likened to a household.

Except that Sovereign Governments, like the USA and UK are issuers of currency. They aren’t at all like a household. If a household has a deficit of say £10k pa then, generally speaking, spending cuts of £5k coupled with an extra £5k of earnings will fix the problem. How many times do we see see the same logic applied to countries too? It never works. It can’t work. Governments afterwards wonder why. It isn’t difficult to understand:

Money Flow

Money coming into the Private Domestic Sector , which is essentially what we all think of as “the economy” can only be from two sources. Government spending directly into it (Gsp) , and payments from overseas for exported goods and services. How can anyone possibly think that reducing Gsp isn’t going to affect Taxes paid? Every £ or $ collected in tax originally comes from Govt spending.

The ability of the economy to deliver taxes to the government has to be directly related to its income. Reducing its income will  make us all poorer and reduce our ability to deliver those taxes.  Spending cuts won’t do anything like as much towards reducing that deficit as is usually supposed.

How much simpler could it be?

And yet if the “balanced budget” cretins get their way what will happen?  The government will makes cuts, tax revenue will fall and the deficit will end up not much different to what it was previously. The cretins will then argue they didn’t make enough cuts and that they’ll need to make more on the second round. And so it will go on, with increased levels of unemployment and business failures at every stage.

We just can’t let this happen. It’s madness.  Instead of forcing the budget to “balance”, we should should look at balancing all the money flows to maximise our economic potential.

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When Joe says he wants a surplus, he means for government but a deficit for everyone else!

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
http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=27823