Budget Deficit

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Definition of a Budget Deficit:

A budget deficit occurs when the amount that an individual’s, company’s, or government’s spending exceeds its income. Governments have a budget deficit when tax revenues are less than government spending.

Detailed Explanation:

Young people and retired people frequently run a budget deficit, meaning their spending exceeds their income. This leaves them two options: sell an asset or borrow the money needed. Too often, young people do not have the assets to sell and resort to borrowing and live beyond their means. Countries can get into financial trouble when following many years of budget deficits. 

When a government has a budget deficit, its revenues (taxes) are less than government spending. A budget surplus exists when tax revenues exceed spending. Government spending is financed with a combination of collecting taxes, issuing debt, or printing money. Choosing how to pay for increased spending or a growing deficit is a dilemma. Raising taxes is unpopular and will likely slow economic growth. Printing money is inflationary, and issuing debt increases the government's interest expense and may crowd out business investment. Finally, governments may reduce their deficits by reducing spending, but doing so may prove to be political suicide because the recipients feel entitled to the money they have grown accustomed to receiving. Since 1970 the only period the US government had a surplus was from 1998 through 2001. Financing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan during a recession pushed the US budget deficit to record levels. The graph below shows the rapid growth in government spending and the historic relationship between government spending and revenues. (2017 and 2018 are estimates.)

Source: U.S. Government Publishing Office

Dig Deeper With These Free Lessons:

The Federal Budget and Managing The National Debt
Fiscal Policy - Managing an Economy by Taxing and Spending
Monetary Policy - The Power of an Interest Rate
Fractional Reserve Banking and The Creation of Money

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