A recurring pattern of the past few decades involves governments promising to limit their borrowing, only to discover that hardly anyone cares. So target dates slip, bonds are issued, and the debts keep rising.
This time around the timing is especially notable, since eight years of global growth ought to be producing tax revenues sufficient to at least moderate the tide of red ink. But apparently not.
In Japan, for instance, government debt is now 250% of GDP, a figure which economists from, say, the 1990s, would have thought impossible.
Over the past decade the country’s leaders have proposed a series of plans for balancing the budget, and actually did manage to shrink debt/GDP slightly in 2016.
But now they seem to have given up, and are looking for excuses to keep spending:
(Hellenic Shipping News) – Japan’s government is set to compile an extra budget worth around 2.7-2.9 trillion yen ($24-26 billion) for the fiscal year to March 2018, with additional bond issuance of around 1 trillion yen to help fund the spending, government sources told Reuters. Following October’s big election win, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet has made plans to beef up childcare support, boost productivity at small and medium-sized companies, and strengthen competitiveness of the farm, fishery and forestry industries.
In the UK, a balanced budget has been pushed back from 2025 to 2031:
(Daily Mail) – Philip Hammond’s ambition to get Britain’s finances back into the black receded further last night – as the Treasury watchdog said he would struggle to eliminate the deficit before 2031. The Chancellor had promised to balance the books by 2025. The target has been pushed back twice already, after George Osborne’s pledge in his 2010 Budget to balance the books ‘within five years’, before he revised the figure to 2020.
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