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Is a budget deficit really so bad? Plenty of governments run deficits at times, and cover the shortfall by borrowing against future budget surpluses. Brazil does not face an imminent debt crisis. Yet the bond market has turned sour on them. Why? The answer is history. Over the last century Brazil repeatedly failed to honor its debt. Instead of consistent fiscal discipline, it ran up deficits, using high inflation and default to avoid paying back what it owed. No wonder deficits set off alarm bells in Brazil.
The bond market is not the problem. The market’s repricing of default risk is merely a symptom. The illness is the weak commitment to fiscally sound policies that avoid high inflation, and a questionable commitment to honor the debt. The problem is political, not economic.
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