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In terms of budgets, especially for governments, a surplus refers to a situation when revenue and receivables are greater than expenditures and payments. In terms of trade, a surplus refers to a situation in which the nominal value of exports is greater than that of imports.

Except for unusually favourable situations, such as those that can be found, for example, in countries with large oil reserves and a small population, national governments usually do not achieve surpluses since they always have needs to meet, public projects to carry out and maintain or past interest to pay. Some constitutions have stipulations of automatic savings written into national budgets to be able to take on unusual circumstances (ex. natural disasters). These savings are not considered to be a surplus because they were automatic and are a by-product of the revenue. The opposite of a surplus is a deficit.


Macroeconomics - 60: Budget Deficit

Macroeconomics - 60: Budget Deficit