The unpaid bill behind our sofas

Halfway through her second glass of champagne on Monday night, my wife sheepishly suggested that perhaps we should hold our own emergency Budget. If George Osborne feels obliged to pronounce gloom and make swingeing cuts, shouldn’t we do our bit too? She took a guilty-looking sip.

I admonished her not to feel the weight of the champagne on her conscience, partly because it was our anniversary, but mostly because, in buying champagne and tipping the Polish waiter, we were selflessly doing our bit to stimulate the economies of our fellow Europeans.

That said, the idea of a household Budget is intriguing. I have recently taken to dividing Budget numbers by 60m, roughly per capita, or by 25m, roughly the number of households in the UK. The effect is bracing: Britain is borrowing £6,000 per household this year. This is, to use a technical macroeconomic term, a fair whack.

Continued at

The Undercover Economist: a guide

Publishing schedule: Excerpts from "The Undercover Economist" and "Dear Economist", Tim's weekly columns for the FT Magazine, are published on this blog on Saturday mornings.
More about Tim: Tim also writes editorials for the FT, presents Radio 4's More or Less and is the author of "The Undercover Economist" and "The Logic of Life".
Comment: To comment, please register with, which you can do for free here. Please also read our comments policy here.
Contact: Tim's contact address is:
Time: UK time is shown on posts.
Follow: A link to the blog's RSS feeds is at the top of the page.
Follow on Twitter
FT blogs: See the full range of the FT's blogs here.