Tomorrow’s Treasury budget announcement

May 11, 2010

Tomorrow, The Treasury Department is scheduled to release its monthly assessment of the federal budget for the previous month – a measure of whether the United States operated on a surplus or a deficit based on tax revenues versus public outlays (or money the government spends). The Treasury budget is essentially a month-by-month “indicator of budget trends and the direction of fiscal policy.”

The Treasury reported a monthly budget deficit of $65.4 billion for the month of March (or more than $2 billion per day). While this number is high, it is still far below the staggering $191.4 billion deficit the government had racked up during the same month last year. To give you some perspective, with $2 billion dollars you could buy every man, woman and child in this country two large lattes (at $2.75 per coffee) and still have money leftover.  Or, you could buy about 10% of Starbucks on the open stock market.  Either way, $2 billion per day is an enormous amount of money to spend.

“The improvement [from last March to this March] was reflected in the fiscal year-to-date deficit, which six months into the fiscal year has turned lower, down 8.2 percent from a year ago but at a still enormous total of $717.0 billion.” It is astounding that just halfway through this fiscal year, we are already operating on a deficit of $717.0 billion.

We are eagerly anticipating tomorrow’s budget announcement.  Historically, April shows a large monthly surplus, due in large part to the sheer number of quarterly and yearly tax returns filed during the month.  That said, consensus estimates, gathered by market analyst Econoday, predict this month’s announcement to fall somewhere around a deficit of $40 billion.

As unfortunate as it is, it has become commonplace to expect a monthly deficit each month, so much so that few even pay attention to the Treasury’s announcement.  Economists, journalists, Congressmen and average citizens all barely notice when these figures are announced.  Unless something is done to hold decision-makers accountable, this trend will never change.

Check back with us tomorrow to find out the latest on Treasury’s monthly budget announcement.

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