If in a year’s time a Chancellor …

Wynne Godley

I have heard people say that the Budget was a bore. This may be true for those who had to listen to it or for those who are interested in minutiae. But as one interested primarily in economic strategy, I cannot remember a more intriguing situation. How can it possibly be right to propose a huge tax increase for next year, and an even larger one for the year after that, when by general consent unemployment is going to be in the region of three million and rising? I am going to argue that this Budget only makes sense on very special assumptions about the performance of the economy; and that if, a year from now, the situation is broadly unchanged – if, that is, output has not changed much, with unemployment still around three million and the balance of payments not in serious deficit – it will be every bit as wrong to raise taxes then as it would now.

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