“Are you quite all right?” someone from the Treasury inquired on Wednesday evening after I had offered a rather fulsome set of praise for the medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) on the radio. The solid presentation from the Treasury last week was an interesting opportunity to take a step back and consider wider issues about fiscal policy and policymaking in general. 

There were so many numbers in the medium-term budget and together they weave a narrative defined by strategic choices by the cabinet, various committees and individual interaction between parts of the state and people within the Treasury. But at its core every number in the statement has layers of models and interactions and decisions behind it. More so they are all interconnected, between the years and upwards into a small set of headline numbers (like the debt-to-GDP share or the primary balance)...

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