Features

Chart of the week: feeling the squeeze

Tax revenues as a proportion of GDP are the highest since the early 1950s. We may have hit the limit of how much money the government can safely extract form the economy.

888_COTW

Louis XIV's finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, said that "the art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing". Britain's geese are hissing unusually loudly at present.

As David Smith points out in The Sunday Times, tax revenues as a proportion of GDP have not been consistently above today's level since the early 1950s, when one-off wartime levels of tax and spending were falling. So "we may be close to the natural limits of what can be extracted from the economy".

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However, the electorate is in no mood for further spending cuts or structural reforms to the health or welfare systems that could save money in the long term. So "that fiscal light at the end of the tunnel Hammond has spoken of looks very faint indeed".

Viewpoint

"[Perhaps female under-representation in UK boardrooms is because] women take the jobs they already have more seriously than their male equivalents and don't consider that they have spare time for other [non-executive] roles Male executives are very good at two things (at least): one, ignoring stuff they can't be bothered withTwo, they set up buffers between themselves and things that are time-consuming or just, in their minds, beneath them. Other folk probably women are tasked with dealing with all of those matters. The female executive will interrupt lunch to sort out any number of issues the male executive would have ignored or possibly mocked more than once recently, I've thought that the woman with the reasonable claim to be, say, the next chair of Tesco, shouldn't be mucking about with the parking arrangements for a do later on. She should have a man for that."

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