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Economy in Brief

U.S. Government Budget Deficit Increases
by Gerald D. Cohen  December 11, 2019

The U.S. Treasury Department reported that the federal government ran a larger-than-expected $208.8 billion budget deficit during November, compared to a $204.9 bil. twelve months earlier. The Action Economics Survey anticipated a $197.0 bil. deficit. For the first two months of the fiscal year, which begins in October, the deficit rose to $343.3 bil. from $305.4 bil. a year ago. On a fiscal year to date (FY) basis, federal government receipts rose 2.6% y/y, but this was more than offset by a 6.5% y/y gain in outlays.

Outside of volatile excise taxes, which fell 39.1% FY y/y, receipts were relatively healthy. Personal income tax revenues grew 4.5% FY y/y, corporate tax receipts were up 11.8% y/y and customs duties which include tariffs jumped 24.2% y/y. As a result of increased tariffs, customs duties soared 71.4% in FY 2019 to $70.8 billion. However, spending on programs such as farm aid increased 81.8% to 23.0 billion. Also of note on the spending side was the surprising weakness in net interest outlays -0.8% FY y/y in November which is likely the result of calendar quirks. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) anticipates net interest payment will grow 4.8% in FY 2020.

Haver's data on Federal Government outlays and receipts as well as CBO forecasts are contained in USECON; detailed data can be found in the GOVFIN database. The Action Economics Forecast Survey numbers are in the AS1REPNA database.

United States Government Finance November FY'19 FY'18 FY'17 FY'16
Budget Balance (Billions) -- $-208.84 $-984.39 $-779.00 $-665.80 $-664.80
Fiscal YTD -- $-343.31 -- -- -- --
  As a percent of GDP -- -- -4.6% -3.8% -3.5% -3.2%
% of Total (FY 2019)
Net Revenues (Fiscal Year YTD 2020, Y/Y % Change) 100 2.6 4.0 0.4 1.5 0.6
  Individual Income Taxes 50 4.5 2.0 6.1 2.7 0.3
  Corporate Income Taxes 7 11.8 12.5 -31.1 -0.8 -12.9
  Social Insurance Taxes 36 3.9 6.2 0.8 4.2 4.7
  Customs Duties 2 24.2 71.4 19.5 -0.8 -0.6
Net Outlays  (Fiscal Year YTD 2020, Y/Y % Change) 100 6.5 8.2 3.2 3.3 4.4
  National Defense 15 6.9 8.9 5.4 0.9 0.6
  Health 13 9.9 6.1 3.4 4.3 6.0
  Medicare 15 7.5 10.6 -1.4 0.5 8.8
  Income Security 12 0.8 4.1 -1.6 -2.1 1.0
  Social Security 23 6.2 5.7 4.5 3.1 3.2
  Veterans Benefits & Services 4 5.4 11.8 1.3 1.2 9.3
  Education, Training, Employment & Social Services 3 17.3 41.3 -33.7 31.2 -10.1
  Interest 8 -0.8 15.6 23.8 9.4 7.6
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