The Lessons of British Austerity - a new report on the United Kingdom's experiences with fiscal reform

As the debate continues in the US around Donald Trump’s fiscal reform agenda, a new joint project from a series of leading international think tanks examines the experience of Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand, with the aim of helping to shape a bipartisan consensus for action within America.

The project involves a series of essays published by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, the Canadian think tank, and includes forewords from Paul Martin, Canada’s former Finance Minister and Prime Minister; Peter Costello, Australia’s former Treasurer; Graham Brady, UK Member of Parliament; and Ruth Richardson, New Zealand’s former Finance Minister. The essay examining Britain’s experience of fiscal consolidation was produced by Daniel Mahoney, Head of Economic Research at the Centre for Policy Studies in London.

“Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have gone through precisely the same debates on debt, deficits and government spending that we have seen in the United States,” said Munk Senior Fellow Sean Speer, of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. “At different times, these Anglosphere countries faced fiscal crises thanks to over-spending, high debt levels, and the same tendency to kick the can down the road that we see in Washington.”

“The potential lesson from the experience of each country is that well-designed fiscal reform can yield economic and social benefits,” said Alex Brill, Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “We hope that lawmakers from across the political spectrum learn from this report and see how fiscal reform can ultimately strengthen the US economy now and in the future.”

“These essays outline the benefits that would arise to the US from credible fiscal policies,” said Daniel Mahoney of the Centre for Policy Studies. “But there are lessons for the UK, too. Unlike the UK, Canada and Australia entered the financial crisis running budget surpluses, which put them in a much better place to deal with economic turbulence. Moreover, countries that cut more swiftly – and spread the pain rather than ring-fencing large swathes of government expenditure – tend to end up in a much healthier position after a period of fiscal consolidation.”

Daniel Mahoney and Sean Speer have co-authored a piece for CapX about the essay series and its aims, America’s fiscal lessons from the rest of the Anglosphere.


  • The Macdonald-Laurier Institute for Public Policy was founded in 2010 and exists to make poor quality public policy unacceptable in Canada. The essay series ‘The Case for Fiscal Reform – Lessons from the Anglosphere’ can be downloaded here.
  • Daniel Mahoney is the Head of Economic Research and Deputy Director of the Centre for Policy Studies. His essay ‘Response to the Financial Crisis in the United Kingdom’ can be downloaded here.
  • The Centre for Policy Studies was founded in 1974 by Margaret Thatcher and Keith Joseph, and develops and promotes policies to encourage enterprise and enable the institutions of a free society to flourish.

Date Added: Thursday 30th November 2017