The first substantive line of George Osborne's budget speech was: "We've now cut the deficit not by a quarter, but by a third". This might be surprising to anybody who read my earlier blog here, which pointed out that the deficit had (measured on a rolling twelve- month basis) been rising, not falling, for the last year or so.
I will leave the intricate takedowns of the coalition's housing, corporation tax and fuel duty escalator plans for the broadsheet newspapers - they do it better than most everyone else. I wish to focus on the macro side of things and, in particular, the role of the Bank of England in this year's and further budgets.
George Osborne's budget yesterday rightly focussed on some of the issues vital to improving the economic performance of our cities, including increased access to housing, new infrastructure investment, and empowering our urban areas to take greater direct control of their economies themselves. But many of the policies announced will be implemented from 2015, meaning that this is a budget which more about growth tomorrow than growth today
Growth has ground to a halt, real wages are falling and more than 6m people want work but can't find it: yet our chancellor continues to fiddle - with beer duties and the pottery industry - as the British economy flatlines. The inconvenient truth is that George Osborne has become Labour's greatest electoral asset.
George Osborne must resist the temptation to use the Budget unilaterally to try and force multinationals to pay more tax in the UK in an ill-considered way and without consultation. The wheels are already in motion internationally to address contentious issues such as so-called 'profit shifting' and other measures that erode the tax base.
Company employee benefits packages are an effective but often underused tool for motivating staff. By offering the right support - for example, financial protection in the event of long-term sickness absence - employers can go a long way to ensuring a happy, productive workforce, not to mention making their firms a more attractive prospect to new staff.
As the prime minister and leading commentators have been fond of pointing out - and rightly so - employment is now back to pre-crisis levels, making this one of the few economic indicators not keeping the Chancellor up at night. Yet step back from a narrow focus on the number of people in work and the challenge we face on employment is daunting.
IMF economists have finally acknowledged what politicians have long denied. They have shown that austerity policies implemented by politicians and demanded by financial markets are severely damaging to what economists define as 'growth'. Ultimately, argues the IMF, these policies are self-defeating. As most thinking people now recognise, rather than repairing the broken and bankrupt economies of the world, austerity is making matters worse.
This week, VisitBritain has launched a consultation on a growth strategy for tourism to Britain, with an ambition to reach 40 million visitors by 2020, a 3% year on year increase. Reaching that figure would deliver £8.7 billion additional foreign exchange earnings at today's prices and support more than 200,000 additional jobs.