What Is a Budget Deficit?

What Is a Budget Deficit?

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

A budget deficit is when expenses exceed revenue, resulting in a shortfall that must be covered by borrowing. In government, this is often seen when government spending outpaces tax revenue and other sources of income. To cover this gap, the government will borrow, often through issuing bonds.

Related Questions

1. How does a country finance its budget deficit?

A country typically finances its budget deficit by issuing bonds. These bonds are bought by individual investors, businesses, and even foreign countries. These parties then receive regular interest payments and the return of the principal amount when the bond matures.

2. What is the difference between a budget deficit and a fiscal deficit?

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A budget deficit focuses purely on the difference between government income and expenditure. But, a fiscal deficit is broader, it includes not just the income and spend but also any government borrowings and interest/repayments on those borrowings.

3. What can cause a government budget deficit?

A government budget deficit can be caused by various factors. Excessive government spending, economic downturn, tax cuts, or a combination of these can lead to a budget deficit. It’s also possible for unexpected events, such as wars or natural disasters, to significantly increase government spending and create a deficit.

4. What are the potential consequences of a long-term budget deficit?

Long-term budget deficits could lead to higher interest rates, inflation, and decreased public investment. If investors start worrying about a government’s ability to repay its debt, they may demand higher interest rates. This increases the cost of borrowing, not only for the government, but also for private businesses and households.

5. Is a budget deficit always a bad thing?

A budget deficit isn’t always a bad thing. During a recession, increased government spending can aid economic recovery. On the other hand, chronic, long-term deficits can lead to higher nations debt and interest rates and lower levels of investment. So, the impact of a budget deficit largely depends on the context in which it occurs.