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Fiscal Deficit


A fiscal deficit occurs when a government’s total expenditures surpass the revenue that it generates, excluding money from borrowings. It represents how much the government is spending beyond what it is earning. This term is used to indicate a government’s financial health.


“Fiscal Deficit” in phonetics is: /ˈfɪskəl ˈdɛfɪsɪt/

Key Takeaways

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  1. Fiscal Deficit Represents Borrowing: A fiscal deficit is an indication that a government is spending more than it earns. This is usually covered by borrowing from the public and other institutional investors, or from international financial sources and organizations. A sustainably high level of fiscal deficit means a growing level of public debt.
  2. Interest Rate and Economic Growth: If a government has to borrow heavily to finance its fiscal deficit, it can lead to an increase in interest rates, crowding out private investment. This long term impact of high fiscal deficit can stifle economic growth.
  3. Inflation Impact: Governments may choose to fund their fiscal deficits by issuing currency. This increases the money supply in the economy, leading to inflation. Funding deficit through currency issuance is typically a last resort, due to it’s potentially destabilizing effects on the economy.


The fiscal deficit is an important term in business/finance because it provides a measure of the financial health and stability of a nation or organization. It occurs when a government’s total expenditures exceed the revenue that it generates, excluding money from borrowings. A high fiscal deficit can indicate a government’s over-reliance on debt, thereby leading an economy towards a serious financial crisis. On the other hand, during economic downturns, a certain level of fiscal deficit might be necessary to stimulate economic growth by funding public investment and social services. Hence, understanding fiscal deficits is crucial for assessing economic policies and making informed monetary decisions.


A fiscal deficit is a key indicator of a government’s financial health, serving as a clear signal of the economic directions a country is taking. The main purpose of a fiscal deficit is to enable governments to invest in infrastructure, education, healthcare and other public services to stimulate economic growth when the private sector is unable or unwilling to do so. When a government spends more than it takes in from taxes and other revenues, it covers the shortfall by borrowing money, thereby creating a fiscal deficit. The resulting debt requires interest payments, so a government must be prudent in weighing the potential benefits of its spending against the costs of maintaining a fiscal deficit.Fiscal deficit is further used as an economic tool for boosting demand in the economy. During a recession or an economic slowdown, a fiscal deficit may be purposely increased with a view to spending more money to boost economic activity. This is known as fiscal stimulus. By investing money in areas that spur economic growth, salaries may rise, consumer spending can increase, and businesses can experience higher profits. However, there is a risk associated with a sustained fiscal deficit, in that it could potentially lead to higher inflation, greater interest cost burden, and can dent the investor confidence level in the economy.


1. United States Fiscal Deficit: In 2020, due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S government significantly increased spending to support individuals and businesses. This significantly raised the fiscal deficit to $3.1 trillion, over three times more than in 2019. The deficit was increased by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which alone accounted for $2.2 trillion. 2. Indian Fiscal Deficit: In the fiscal year 2019-2020, India’s government reported a fiscal deficit of 9.3 % of GDP, greater than the government’s target of 3.5%. This was primarily due to revenue shortfalls and higher public expenditure mainly on health and rural infrastructure amid the COVID-19 pandemic.3. Brazilian Fiscal Deficit: In 2015, Brazil faced a record fiscal deficit which actually led to a downgrade in country’s credit rating. Brazil’s primary fiscal deficit, before interest payments, hit $10.1bn, resulting in the decision to downgrade their rating from ‘investment grade’ to ‘junk’ status. Their increased spendings without corresponding revenue was the primary reason for this huge deficit.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Fiscal Deficit?

A fiscal deficit occurs when a government’s total expenditures exceed the revenue that it generates, excluding money from borrowings.

How is the Fiscal Deficit measured?

The fiscal deficit is usually measured as a percentage of a nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

What causes a Fiscal Deficit?

Major causes of a fiscal deficit include excessive government expenditure, decrease in tax revenues, economic recession, or a decline in GDP contribution.

Is a Fiscal Deficit a negative aspect of an economy?

While large and consecutive fiscal deficits can signal poor financial management and can lead to inflation and economic instability, moderate deficits can stimulate economic growth in the short term by increasing demand.

How can a country reduce its Fiscal Deficit?

A country can reduce its fiscal deficit by increasing revenue through taxes or decreasing government spending, or a combination of both.

How does a Fiscal Deficit impact the economy?

Fiscal deficits can impact the economy in several ways including increasing the national debt, rising interest rates, and potentially resulting in inflation if not managed properly.

What’s the difference between Fiscal Deficit and Budget Deficit?

While both terms refer to the difference between the government’s income and expenditure, fiscal deficit includes the total borrowing requirements of the government including interest expenses on debt, while a budget deficit only looks at the gap between revenue and expenses.

How regularly is the Fiscal Deficit calculated and announced?

The fiscal deficit is typically calculated and announced annually. It’s usually part of a country’s annual budget announcement.

Do all countries have Fiscal Deficits?

While many countries operate with fiscal deficits, there are also countries that maintain a fiscal surplus, where the government’s income exceeds its expenditure, or a balanced budget where income equals expenditure.

How does Government borrowing affect Fiscal Deficit?

Government borrowing is part of the fiscal deficit calculation. It’s the way the government funds the fiscal deficit. The more a government borrows to meet its expenditure, the higher their fiscal deficit.

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