Sunday, October 4, 2009

Why No Debt

Leo Zuckermann addresses the reasons (as expressed by Agustín Carstens) for Calderón's reluctance to forego new taxes in favor of a new tax (paraphrased):
1) Mexico has already experienced the consequences of out-of-control borrowing.

2) The present drops in income, especially from oil, aren't going to bounce back down the line once the crisis comes to an end, so a deeper structural change in Mexico's budget calculus is needed.

3) It's irresponsible to mortgage a future that doesn't belong to us.

4) An elevated debt inhibits economic growth because it crowds out investment, because the government must devote a greater proportion of its income to servicing the debt.

5) Debt could put Mexico's credit rating at risk.
Zuckermann's responds with the following:
Those are the reasons of the Finance Secretariat. It leaves out the most important that obviously can't be said. The government doesn't to go into debt because it doesn't know how to spend. In general, it runs through funs through funds from taxes or from debt. It favors current expenses over investment. It's a bad administrator of social funding.

From 1999 and 2009, real public expenses grew by 93 percent, and the economy only by 18.5 percent. Government spending didn't help foster economic development. The difference is that 40 percent of the spending was financed with oil profit, and now that oil production is plummeting, many politicians have the temptation to resort to debt to avoid raising taxes or lower spending. Let's hope that they don't do it because it would lending money to a guy who tends to spend it poorly.

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