If a public company misses a forecast by a fraction, markets respond mercilessly. A company’s market value can drop millions – sometimes billions – of dollars in a few hours. Everyone with a corner office is put on high alert, and it’s even possible that a few jobs are lost. This, despite even turning a profit, but nevertheless neglecting to deliver the total profit that was promised. In other words, you accomplished 109%, but the public¬†only rewards 110% or better. When a government runs a deficit, there’s usually a gnashing of teeth, a grumbling over coffee, and it usually ends with a heavy sigh. Everyone then goes about their business and generally hopes the next bit of news isn’t as glum. “Oh, you spent more than you made? Six consecutive quarters in a row? Carry on then.” ¬†And that’s it: not with a bang, but a whimper. Now, to be fair, I understand that governments can’t be held accountable by corporate profit motives. Government revenues are generally tied to taxes, service fees, transfer payments and grants. They have an obligation to provide social services and help the poor, the sick and the infirm. They can’t arbitrarily shut down emergency services…

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