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Did Gladstone make a difference? Rhetoric and reality in mid-Victorian finance

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'Gladstonian finance' is generally taken to mean balancing the budget, limiting the level of public expenditure, and making progress in paying off the national debt. Gladstone also distinguished himself from contemporary Conservatives (and most classical economists) by having no especial dislike for direct taxes. After putting Gladstone's public utterances in the context of his rivals, classical political economy, and contemporary views of the role of the state, we use cointegration analysis to see if Gladstone, as Chancellor or Prime Minister, made a statistically detectable difference to trends in public spending, taxation, the balance of the budget or the size of the national debt. He did not.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1999-11-01

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