UK’s Osborne is less austere than he makes out

November 25, 2015

Finance minister George Osborne isn’t quite the budget zealot his Nov. 25 spending cuts suggest. The UK has run bigger deficits relative to GDP than France during his tenure. He has also executed tax and spending U-turns when required. It helps that gilt investors buy the hype.

Cameron takes deficit amnesia to a new level

October 1, 2014

The UK prime minister crowed when opposition leader Ed Miliband forgot the deficit in a keynote speech. Yet David Cameron has gone further, insisting on the need to tackle the country’s biggest problem and then pledging a tax giveaway. It’s an electoral bribe he can’t afford.

U.S. payroll tax fight shows faux fiscal restraint

February 14, 2012

Using seized mortgage backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to fund a short extension of the tax cut was bad enough, but Congress is about to do worse. It’s ready to pay for another 10 months’ worth by adding $100 bln to the deficit. Politics and dogma are foiling needed discipline.

Haggling on 2012 Spanish deficit misses the point

March 14, 2012

The EU has agreed to relax the country’s deficit target for 2012 as long as Spain maintains its goal of shrinking it to 3 pct of GDP next year. The compromise allows both sides to save face for now. The problem is that as recession hits, next year’s target remains challenging.

S&P states the much-needed obvious on U.S. debt

April 18, 2011

Standard & Poor's has taken its share of flak in recent years. But at least the credit rating firm isn't too shy to state the much-needed obvious on America's debt situation. S&P's shift on Monday to a negative outlook on Uncle Sam's AAA credit shouldn't come as any surprise. But it should act as a reality check.

Were Luddites the victims of 2011-style finances?

March 11, 2011

The British weavers known as Luddites, who destroyed looms precisely 200 years ago, thought rising unemployment within their ranks was due to machinery. But there's a case to be made that inflation, money supply expansion, budget deficits and trade barriers were equally to blame.

Sacred cow of mortgage tax relief needs slaughter

November 15, 2010

The tax deductibility of mortgage interest is almost as inviolable a part of the American dream as is the U.S. Constitution. The co-chairs of the White House deficit commission have boldly, and rightly, put this almost century-old sacred cow on the chopping block.

U.S. debt panel’s good sense upsets left and right

November 10, 2010

Uncle Sam would tax somewhat more and spend a whole lot less if the co-chairs of President Barack Obama's deficit commission get their way.

Obama deficit panel may surprise on tax reform

November 2, 2010

The panel that President Obama appointed to look at the deficit may have a surprisingly sensible proposal for pro-growth tax reform.

GOP poised to gain tax, banking clout in U.S.

October 25, 2010

The U.S. Republican party will probably retake the House of Representatives from Democrats in the Nov. 2 elections and fall just short in the Senate.