This book considers the relationship between public spending and public deficit and the varying successes and difficulties governments have had in recent years to balance the two. As the fiscal crash of 2007/8 turned into the Great Recession and tax revenues tumbled, public finances across the UK, the USA and Europe plunged into deficit. Controversial attempts by governments to balance their budgets, commonly described as austerity by critics, had mixed success, politically and economically. Michael Burton outlines how politicians tackled the worst economic downturn in over half a century, drawing on previous examples of deficit-reduction to see how governments managed public finances in recessions and where austerity worked and where it failed. This two-part book, which for the first time provides an historical context to austerity, analyses firstly deficit-reduction in the UK in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2010-2016, and then looks at case studies in Europe, the USA, Canada and Asia Pacific. The author concludes that with the ageing population placing greater pressure through health and pensions on the public finances of the developed world, politicians and their electorates will have to learn to live long-term with austerity.
Michael Burton has been writing and speaking about central and local government for over 30 years as Editor and now Editorial Director for the Hemming Group in London, magazine publishers and event organisers. His previous book is The Politics of Public Sector Reform from Thatcher to the Coalition (2013).
Acknowledgements.- List of Tables.- Introduction.- Part One: austerity in the UK.- Chapter one: the rise of public spending.- Chapter two: the party's over.- Chapter three: the end of consensus.- Chapter four: from boom to bust.- Chapter five: austerity Britain.- Chapter six: light at the end of the tunnel.- Part Two: global experiences of austerity.- Chapter seven: deficit reduction in the United States.- Chapter eight: austerity in Europe.- Chapter nine: two case studies, Canada and Sweden.- Chapter ten: some Asia Pacific case studies.- Chapter eleven: is austerity necessary?.- Conclusion.- Index.