14-4 Surpluses, Deficits, and the Debt: Definitions Budget Deficit: the amount by which expenditures exceed revenues Budget Surplus: the amount by which revenues exceed expenditures National Debt: the total amount owed by the federal government
14-5 Off vs. On Budget Off-budget: parts of the budget designated by Congress as separate from the normal budget. Programs that operate with their own revenue sources and have trust funds; Social Security, Medicare, and the Post Office are examples. On-budget: parts of the budget that rely entirely or mostly on general revenue.
14-6 History of Deficits, Surpluses, and the National Debt Revolutionary War debt $75 million Closest budget to balance (no deficit or surplus) was $3800 in 1835 There were more years of surplus than deficit between 1791 and 1836 resulting in a national debt of only $37,000 Civil War debt reached $2 billion From 1865 to 1930 the debt reached $50 billion By 1946 (the end of WWII) the debt was $250 billion By 2009 the debt was $13 trillion
14-7 Accounting for Inflation All figures for deficits, surpluses, and the national debt must be adjusted for inflation. The Real Deficit or Real Surplus measures the deficit or surplus in constant dollars
14-11 Surpluses of the late 1990s Surpluses were generated over the late 1990s as a result of –High GDP growth that resulted in high tax revenues –Peace Dividend: money that was freed up for other spending priorities when the Cold War was over –Rapid increases in capital gains tax revenue from a booming stock market
14-12 How Economists See the Deficit and Debt Separating the Operating and Capital Budgets –Operating Budget: part of the federal budget devoted to spending on goods and services that will be used in the current year –Capital Budget: part of the federal budget devoted to spending on goods that will last several years Separating Cyclical and Structural Deficits –Cyclical Deficit: That part of the deficit attributable to the economy’s not being at full employment –Structural Deficit: That part of the deficit that would remain even if the economy were at full employment –Functional Finance: that part of the deficit attributable to the “stimulus package” useful and label it functional finance.
14-14 International Comparisons Debt as a % of GDP CanadaUSUKGermanyItalyJapan 197054.144.578.017.538.010.6 197544.942.822.214.171.1240.2 198045.639.854.530.258.047.9 198566.353.559.441.682.164.2 199073.560.939.142.0103.761.4 199599.268.358.959.1123.176.0 200081.857.941.260.4123.9142.3 200181.454.650.757.8108.3118.6 200277.760.241.562.9122.6149.4 200570.362.446.571.1120.5177.3 200668.161.946.669.3118.7179.7
14-15 Generational Accounting A method of analysis that computes a net tax rate that accounts for the taxes that each generation will pay compared to the services and transfers they will receive If government runs a deficit in one generation to finance a project where the benefits accrue to a later generation that is paying the interest on that debt then the net tax rate does not change.
14-16 Who Owns The Debt Public –US investors –Foreign investors Trust Funds –Social Security –Medicare Federal Reserve –The Fed buys Federal Debt as a means of getting new money into the money supply.
14-19 A Balance Budget Amendment Proponents argue that a BBA is necessary to keep a current generation from borrowing more than is optimal. A majority of economists do not favor such an amendment because it would be Procyclical –good times would be even better and bad times even worse
14-20 Figure 5 Built-In Stabilizers RGD P AS Price Level AD 1 RGD P AS Price Level AD 1 AD 3 AD 2 AD 3
14-21 Projections for the Future The Office of Management and Budget (in the White House) and the Congressional Budget Office each produce a projection of the 10 year budget picture using assumptions of economic growth. These projections are rarely accurate beyond the near term because –They often are based on the assumption that Congress will not change current law. –They are quite sensitive to small changes in the performance of the economy.