Laura Kuenssberg ‘misled’ BBC viewers with ‘maxed-out credit card’ national debt analogy, leading economists claim

More than 20 leading economists have written to the BBC to complain about news reports on the UK’s national debt that “do not represent economic reality”.

The letter said BBC Political Editor, Laura Kuenssberg, “misrepresented” financial challenges facing the UK Government during coverage of the 2020 Spending Review.

Speaking about the size of the national debt on Politics Live, Ms Kuenssberg said “this is the credit card, the national mortgage, everything absolutely maxed out”, later adding that: “for next few years, there is really no money”.

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The letter, addressed to the BBC’s Director General, Tim Davie, said the credit card analogy “does not represent economic reality” and “reproduces a number of misconceptions surrounding macroeconomics and the public finances.”

Its signatories, including Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said Ms Kuenssberg set a “standard across the media” as one of the most senior journalists in Britain, and called on BBC reporters to avoid using similar analogies in future.

“We would argue that this is never an appropriate metaphor for public finances,” the letter reads.

“Maxing out a credit card would imply that the government is approaching a hard limit on its ability to borrow. This is not the case.

“It is the consensus amongst economists that the government should at this point in time not focus on reducing the deficit, but rather on delivering the spending necessary to secure a recovery from Covid-19.”

Speaking about the size of the national debt on Politics Live, Ms Kuenssberg said “this is the credit card, the national mortgage, everything absolutely maxed out” (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The signatories said record-low interest rates on government bonds are likely to remain so “for the foreseeable future”.

“These are not the signs of an institution approaching its credit limits,” they added.

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