Automatic stabilisers

The unemployment stats on Wednesday triggered a new round of speculation about whether George Osborne was likely to meet his two fiscal targets: balancing the structural current deficit and having debt falling as a ratio to GDP by the end of the parliament.

Neither target is quite as tough as you might think, however, as the Guardian has pointed out today. On the debt target, technically, the government could borrow billions more than it is currently planning and still not breach it, as long as it slowed borrowing towards the end of the parliament and showed debt was falling by 2015. This is unlikely to happen (partially because it could breach the other target), but it is possible. Read more