“Twenty years to pay off the national debt? That is ridiculous!”

Even now, governments should not let their debt increase too much, alumnus Onno Ruding, the strict treasury keeper from the 1980s, warns. “A high national debt is a moral problem”.

An anecdote about a dinner with Donald Trump is one of the many anecdotes that Onno Ruding tells about in his memoirs ‘Balance – It was about more than just money’. Onno Ruding studied Economics and Busness Economics at Erasmus School of Economics and graduated in 1964. The former minister of finance is convinced that “history would have gone differently” if Citibank would have pulled the plug on Trumps company in the 90s. “Trump would not have been in the White House. He would have gone bankrupt. Trump regularly boasts with his successful business empire, but at the beginning of the 90s things were looking bleak for him”.

CDA’er Ruding held many diverse (international) positions in the banking and monetary world, like with the IMF, the Amro Bank and Citibank. But many will remember him as the unrelenting minister of Finance of Lubbers’ two cabinets in the 80s. As minister he saw it as his own duty to cure the Netherlands from the Dutch disease. Ruding pursued a strict reform- and austerity policy for eight years, to reducethe national debt, to reduce the collective charges and to reduce the budget deficit.

Ruding’s memoirs confirm the image of a minister who continuously emphasized ‘expenditure discipline’ with the other ministers. He called the large national debt, which was about 75% of GDP halfway through the 80s, a ‘moral problem’.

Ruding was interviewed by Financieel Dagblad about his view on the crisis policy of the current cabinet, that says to want to invest itself out of the corona crisis and for the time being takes the rising national debt for granted. You can read more about this in the article that was published on 27 September 2020.

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Onno Ruding studied Economics & Business Economics at Erasmus School of Economics and graduated in 1964.

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