So here is a reality check: in the financial year 2007/08 to date, public sector net borrowing -- the main measure of the budget deficit -- has already reached £26.5bn. This is a cool £6bn more than over the same period last year, and represents a horrific deterioration in the health of the public finances.
Far from having regained control of the exchequer's purse strings, Brown and Alistair Darling are still on course to breach their £38bn deficit forecast for the financial year as whole. I still suspect that the final outcome could hit £40bn.
Looking ahead, the position is even bleaker: a slower economy is bound to depress revenues even further. Brown's astonishing profligacy during the good years will eventually catch up with him -- and for all today's clever spin and all the looming tax raids on non-doms, there is nothing he can do about it.