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Conclusion: The August U.S. budget numbers released earlier today showed marginal improvement versus July.

We continue to remain alarmed about the U.S. budget deficit as the U.S. government printed its record 23rd straight monthly budget deficit.  That said, while we aren’t ready to reduce our estimate for the U.S. government deficit, the August results did show marginal improvement versus July, specifically on the expense side. 

Normalizing for a 1-time FDIC payment, outlays in the year-to-date, excluding TARP, payments to GSEs, and interest payments, were up 9.4% for the first eleven months of the government’s fiscal year.  This is an improvement from the July results that showed outlays, on an apples-to-apples basis, up 10.4% for the first 10-months.  Expenses are outlined directly in the chart below and, once again, all line items are up on a year-over-year basis, though the sequential decline in expenses from July to August is noteworthy.

U.S. August Budget . . . Marginal Improvement - 1

On the revenue side, government revenues in the year-to-date are up about 1.5% for the first eleven months of the fiscal year.  While this is a positive, if we normalize this for revenue from the Federal Reserve, Federal revenue actually declined about 0.1% year-over-year.  In the statement today, the Treasury Department explained the increase in revenue from the Federal Reserve by stating the following:

“The larger remittances stemmed from higher profits earned by the Federal Reserve, which primarily reflect the central bank’s much larger portfolio and its shift to riskier and thus higher-yielding investments in support of the housing market and the broader economy.”

We’re not sure that the Fed having a riskier portfolio is a long term trend of income we would want to bet on.

In aggregate, revenue is up small on a year-over-year basis and outlays are up almost double digits, which is quite negative as it relates to the fiscal future of the United States.  But on the margin August was an improvement from July . . . if only marginal.

Daryl G. Jones

Managing Director