World War: Pay As You Go?

During World War I French finance ministers spent billions of their country's money as the generals spent lives—on a do or die principle. They made no attempt to balance their budgets and instead of figuring expenses on a yearly basis they asked for appropriations monthly.

Last week French Finance Minister Paul Reynaud presented his first wartime budget. It was for a year and it was balanced all right, but the joker in it was that it covered only civil and not military costs. These were huge enough—79,000,000,000 francs ($1,746,000,000), or an increase of $500,000,000 over last year's ordinary expenses. A few items...

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