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ACCORD ON BUDGET TO HAVE LITTLE EFFECT ON ECONOMY, EXPERTS SAY

The budget agreement Monday to balance the federal government's books and cut taxes may be historic, but it is unlikely to have much impact on the overall economy in the short-run, analysts said.

"You're not going to see a big boom," said Stanley Collender, chief budget analyst with Burson-Marsteller consultants here, adding, "We're already seeing one."

The agreement between President Clinton and congressional leaders aims to balance the $1.5 trillion budget for the first time since 1969.

It also provides for the first cut in taxes in 16 years, including a $500-per-child tax credit and a reduction in the capital gains tax.

The agreement comes when the economy is already turning in a stellar performance. Unemployment is near its lowest level in a generation. Inflation is running at its slowest pace in 11 years. And the economy is in its seventh year of expansion.

The strong economy has provided the government with a windfall as corporate profits have surged and the stock market has soared -- and with it investors' tax payments.

"The economy is balancing the budget," Allen Sinai, chief economist for Boston-based Primark Decision Economics, said. "Even without an agreement, there is a very good shot the budget would be balanced next year."

The budget deficit through the first nine months of the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30 was a mere $10.9 billion. For fiscal 1997 as a whole, the gap between government outlays and receipts is likely to be $50 billion or less.

Wall Street analysts said the balanced budget deal has already been taken into account by forward-looking investors and thus is unlikely to have much lasting impact on stock and bond markets. "It's a non-event," said James Glassman of Chase Securities in New York.

It also is unlikely to have much impact on the Federal Reserve, which is focusing instead on the near-term outlook for inflation in deciding what to do about interest rates.

"The Fed is delighted to see this agreement," Sinai said. "But it's not a key element in their decision-making. Their foremost concern is the inflation risks going forward."

Paradoxically, the budget agreement may boost the deficit in the short-run and prevent a balance from being achieved next year, analysts said. That is because it cuts taxes faster than it reins in government spending.

The risk is that the budget pact "will salvage the red ink at the last moment," said economist Lou Crandall of R.H. Wrightson and Associates in New York.

But most analysts believe the agreement was still worthwhile because it makes a start at tackling the mushrooming cost of providing government services for the elderly.

"We absolutely need it," said Chris Varvares, president of St. Louis-based Macroeconomic Advisers. "It's a down payment on the future."

To help balance the budget and provide money for tax cuts, the agreement reins in spending on the Medicare and Medicaid health programs for the elderly and the poor.

Analysts were divided, however, over the economic benefits of the $85 billion worth of tax cuts contained in the agreement.

Some argued that the cut in capital gains taxes would make the economy more efficient by boosting savings and investment. Others were skeptical.

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