Due to a request by the Economist this graph has been removed.
May 17, 2012
OECD Government Budget History: Deficit versus surplus
The Economist posted this interesting chart with the budget historty from several countries. On the top a smaller group of countries over a longer time and on the bottom a bigger group of countries over a smaller time. Unfortunately there was no data available for both more countries and over a longer period. What both graphs show though is that most countries had a lot more years with a budget deficit than years with a budget surplus. Many economists advice governments to buildup debt-ratio in a recession and lower the debt-ratio in a boom. Because there were more deficit years that surplus years, this wasn't the case. Overall, in the long run government debt ratio's on average increased.