CAMERONPeterMcDiarmid:Getty

Ryan Avent explains it as clearly as anyone:

For now, Mr Osborne and the ruling government are the heroes of deficit hawks and supporters of a small state the world over. But Britain's conservatives have gambled heavily. If deep budget cuts amid economic weakness send the economy plunging back into recession, the government may be unable to make the cuts stick, and austerity could be discredited around the world. If disaster is avoided, it will strengthen the hand of fiscal conservatives everywhere. It would be an exciting experiment to watch if so many livelihoods weren't caught in the balance.

Remember: Thatcher preceded Reagan. And Toryism can be radical if the circumstances are dire enough. So much for all that talk of Cameron's wetness. And remember also that this is a Coalition government, in which the Liberal Democrats have also placed their bets on fiscal retrenchment - and the Labour opposition is in great disarray.

(Photo: Peter McDiarmid/Getty.)

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.