It has become a bit of a sport among commentators to come up with the word or phrase that sums up the budget: ''mother of all...'', ''chewing gum...'', and so on.
Last week's was a bit of a test, but ''paper round'' has got the inside running. That's mainly because the cut to the tax rebate for kids doing after-school work, raking in a princely $14 million a year, sums up the bottom-of-the-barrel-scraping that has gone on inside the Government to find a mix of user-pays, tax changes and belt-tightening to eke out that $197m surplus in 2014-15.
Despite all the talk about it being another ''zero budget'' - because that is the size of the ''new spending'' provision - some zoned in on the increase in expenses as evidence that it is far from a nil increase in spending. So core Crown expenses lift from a forecast $69.6 billion in the current year to $73.7b next year and then to $77.2b by 2016 after a dip in 2014-15.
But the steady increase in spending, and the $8b deficits this year and next, don't capture the full extent of the way the Government is tightening the screws. The real measures of the Government's impact on the economy, through its fiscal stance, are the eye-glazingly-named ''cyclically adjusted balance'' and ''fiscal impulse indicator''.
Treasury itself says: ''it is common, especially in crosscountry comparisons, to use the change in the cyclically adjusted balance as an indicator of change in discretionary fiscal policy and the impact of fiscal policy on the economy''.
The fiscal impulse indicator estimates discretionary fiscal policy to be roughly neutral in the current year, due to the temporary impact of earthquake spending, with a tightening of about 1 per cent of GDP in 2012-13, 2 per cent in 2013-14 and 1 per cent in each of 2014-15 and 2015-16.
In its commentary, the BNZ noted ''the Government's stance is, of course, contractionary for the economy, and significantly so. In the June year 2014 the fiscal impulse is sufficiently negative to knock 2.0% off GDP growth, and then another 1.1% the year after''.
ANZ said the contractionary fiscal stance would slice 3.1% of GDP over the next three years, helping keep interest rates low.
Bill English's application of the fiscal thumbscrews may or may not affect Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard's view of when to hike rates. But it cannot be long before the consensus around early 2013 for a rise in the OCR moves even further out - and with it a step down in floating mortgage rates (finally).
All in all, it does not have the flourish of ''the mother of all budgets'' but at a time when growth was only limping along at 1.1 per cent in 2011, English's fourth Budget deserves to be remembered as ''the father of all contractions''.
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