Monday, 15 October 2012

Don't believe the austerity hype

"..Er…what austerity? This graph, compiled by Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Centre, shows that UK public expenditure has been growing at a pretty solid pace, even in real, inflation-adjusted terms. If you or I were in debt as deep as the government's, we would aim to cut our spending and reduce it. But the government continues to increase its spending, and continues to borrow and add to its debt to finance it. Indeed, the Treasury expects that UK government debt will increase three times, from around £581bn in 2008 when the present crisis hit, to £1,500bn in 2015/16 which is as far ahead as the Treasury forecasts.
Public expenditure is, of course, notoriously difficult to cut. It involves making politically difficult and unpopular decisions. And indeed, during difficult times there are more people drawing unemployment and other social benefits, which are a very large part of the UK government budget. George Osborne's hope was that he could finesse things by hoping that the growth of people's incomes would outpace the growth of public expenditure, so that the relative burden of public spending would diminish, and less borrowing would be required. But given the general economic malaise in Western economies, and the disarray in the euro area in particular, our customers are not buying much more, even at the cheaper prices made possible by the downward slide in the value of the pound."

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