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Victoria 3 - Dev Diary #12 - Treasury

DD12.png


Hello and welcome to another development diary for Victoria 3! Today we’ll be covering a topic that tends to be very much in the mind of governments of all eras: Money! Specifically, we’re going to be talking about income, expenses and debt, and how they function on the national level.

As was mentioned all the way back in Dev Diary #2, Money is one of the principal resources you have to manage in Victoria 3. This in itself is of course nothing new (money of some form playing a role in almost every Grand Strategy game we’ve ever released), but the way money works is a little bit different than what you might be used to.

In most games, money tends to be a resource you accumulate for a specific goal, until you have enough of it to achieve that specific goal. For example, you might want to build a building that costs 100 money, and your monthly income is 10 money. That means in order to build said building, you have to wait for 10 months to accumulate the 100 money needed for the lump sum cost to order the construction of said building.

Now, you might be asking, why am I explaining such a simple and obvious mechanic that undoubtedly every single reader of this dev diary is completely familiar with? The reason for this is because in Victoria 3, there is no such thing as a lump sum cost - instead, it’s all about your weekly balance. At the end of every in-game week, your country’s income and expenses are tallied up and the result is then applied to your Gold Reserve or National Debt. This also means that all forms of expenses, such as construction, also work on a weekly basis - you do not need any cash ‘on hand’ to start construction of a dozen buildings at once, but if you don’t have the revenue to support it you may find yourself quickly going into debt.

America’s lack of an income tax in 1836 sharply limits its potential for government spending
dd12_1.png

The Gold Reserve is your country’s national stockpile of cash. If you are free of debt, any money that is left over in the weekly budget after expenses are subtracted is used to increase the Gold Reserve. Conversely, if your expenses exceed your income, this money is taken out of the Gold Reserve to balance the books.

Though it’s certainly never bad in itself to have a sizable Gold Reserve, it isn’t necessarily the best idea to continually run a large budget surplus - each country has a Gold Reserve Limit, which is a ‘soft-cap’ over which each surplus pound has diminishing returns on the Gold Reserve - if you have an enormous stockpile of gold, a surplus of £10k may only increase your stockpile by as little as £2k, meaning that you’ve simply wasted the rest of your money. Hence, a country that finds its gold reserves filling up may want to consider finding a way to reinvest some of that money to avoid such wastage.

The Spanish Gold Reserve has grown to the point where further stockpiling is becoming very inefficient, and they should really try to find better uses for some of that money
dd12_2.png

So what if you’re running a deficit and your Gold Reserve has all been tapped? Well, this is when debt comes into play. Beyond that point, each pound spent in excess of your income will result in automatically taking on debt. While this may sound like something that you should avoid at all costs, that isn’t necessarily true.

While you do have to pay interest on your loans, interest rates in Victoria 3 are relatively low, and so long as you avoid hitting your Debt Ceiling, growing your economy through deficit spending can actually be a very valid strategy. This is because the increase in revenues from minting and taxation may very well end up exceeding the interest payments, not to mention the benefits constructing new industries can have for your population.

The Debt Ceiling, unlike the Gold Reserve, is not a soft cap - once you hit it, your country will be in default, which is a terrible state to be in and can only be recovered from if you manage to slash your expenses enough to put your weekly expenses back in the black (or if another country steps in and takes on your debt, which can have its own undesirable outcomes for you… but more on that later). It’s also possible to simply declare bankruptcy, but because the money you are borrowing against is actually the cash reserves of your country’s buildings (which is actually what determines the size of your Debt Ceiling), this will have immensely negative consequences for your domestic industry.

Even though Britain has taken on several million pounds of debt, this isn’t too much of an issue - their advanced economy allows them a high debt ceiling, and the interest payments is only a small fraction of their spending
dd12_3.png


To wrap up this Dev Diary, I’m going to briefly touch on the main forms of income and expenditures, though this is by no means an exhaustive list! Some forms of income and expenses (taxes and salaries, specifically) also have a ‘level’ setting, where you can for example squeeze more taxes out of your population at the cost of reduced legitimacy and increased radicalization.

A massive hike of the tax level to the highest level is a sure-fire way to both raise money and create political radicals
dd12_4.png

Main Types of Income (not an exhaustive list):
  • Minting: All countries can generate some cash flow by printing or casting new currency in relation to their GDP. Minting provides all countries with some income - particularly those who have domestic Gold Fields - but is in itself insufficient for funding anything but the most minimalist of governments.
  • Income Taxes: A form of taxation collected on income, where a certain % of the wages paid to workers in buildings is paid to the government.
  • Poll Taxes: A form of per-capita taxation where a fixed sum of money is collected on each member of the workforce. Poll Taxes are very regressive since they collect the same amount regardless of income.
  • Land Taxes: A special type of Poll Taxes that are only collected on certain types of Pops, such as Peasants.
  • Consumption Taxes: A tax that is levied directly on a specific good that is consumed by Pops. Levying Consumption Taxes costs Authority.
  • Dividend Taxes: A tax that is applied to dividends paid to Pops with an ownership stake in a Building. Tends to be a very progressive form of taxation, as usually only well-to-do Pops have ownership of buildings.
  • Tariffs: Tariffs are something that we plan to have in the game as a way to profit from goods being exported from your market, but we’re not ready to talk about exactly how this will work yet.

Main Types of Expenses (not an exhaustive list):
  • Government Wages: The salary cost of employing Pops in your Government Buildings such as Government Administrations and Ports.
  • Government Goods: The material costs for your Government Buildings, for example the Paper needed by Government Administrations.
  • Military Wages: The salary costs of Pops serving in your army and navy.
  • Military Goods: The various goods needed by your army and navy, such as Small Arms for Barracks.
  • Subsidies: The cost of subsidizing specific buildings to ensure they remain competitive.
  • Interest: The cost of making interest payments on your loans, if you have any.
  • Construction: The cost of constructing new buildings, both in goods required for the method of construction and wages paid to Pops working in the construction industry.

Well then, that’s all for today. Next week we’re going to be talking about a topic that touches on both economics and politics - Standard of Living. See you then!
 
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This comment is reserved by the Community Team for gathering Dev Responses in, for ease of reading.

InvisibleBison said:
I am quite disappointed to see how clunky and un-granular the tax rate settings are. Why did you get rid of sliders?
There's a few reasons:
* Discrete options are clearer than sliders in what exactly you get for selecting each level
* We don't want players to be babysitting and tweaking their sliders every single week to get the perfect level of taxation/spending because we don't think it's a good gameplay flow
* The idea that a government would be making weekly adjustments to the tax rate without incensing the population is extremely unrealistic and discrete levels allows us to make it so changing the tax level is something that you can't be doing all the time and that changes can have political consequences

Nicolas- said:
I hope some budget options will be replaced by sliders. Just 5 options to manage a complex economy doesn't sound viable.
There is 5 levels but that doesn't mean there is 5 options, there's a wide variety of different income streams that affect pops differently instead

IsaacCAT said:
Land taxes only collected from peasants? What about the large landowners?

The menu for taxes seems that is open for any type of government, political party or culture. Are there no inventions/technologies/discoveries required to unlock different types of taxes?

Everyone can use everything from the start?
Land taxes will be collected from Peasants, Farmers and Aristocrats

Irbynx said:
Diplomatic Pacts is another form of revenue that was shown in the screenshots, but not discussed in the post. Anything you could tell us about those (as a form of revenue source)?

Also, would the divident taxes lower the investment pool contribution directly/indirectly?
There's a few different forms of diplomatic pacts that can generate money such as subject relationships, but we'll get more into that in a later dev diary.

XeroSilver said:
How is inflation or deflation handled? If alot of countries are poring money into the void of their gold reserves at diminishing returns would this actually effect the game's economy or would it be handled by the in game systems.
Right now we don't have inflation mechanics, it's something we think we'll want in the game sooner or later but likely not for release.

Somberg said:
I'm very curious what "Money from the Investment Fund" refers to as a revenue source. Can governments actually siphon off some money from the Investment Pool depending on the economic system in place?
No, you receive money from it only to cover expenses for the type of constructions it may be used for.

vyshan said:
When it comes to debt that the government needs to pay off, will historical debt from the Napoleonic wars and prior still be something that countries have to pay off. Ie do the British still have the debt that they have to pay off from the South Sea Bubble fiasco.
At the moment we don't have this for most countries, I'm split on the idea in that it would be a nice historical detail but at the same time having countries start the game in a dire financial state may not feel good gameplay wise.

Lithaeus said:
I am mostly concerned by your mention of tariffs. Tariffs were an extremely huge part of the United States's economic strategy at this time, and a key point of contention between the industrialist north (who wanted high tariffs), and the south (low tariffs).
So the question is: can tariffs be used to protect local industries in vic3 (and not just a way to earn money from exports)?
Yes, the idea with tariffs is that they should both be a way to earn money and protect domestic industries, but we haven't actually finalized and implemented them yet which is why I can't tell you all about how they work.

Nicolas- said:
Thank you for the clarification. I will reserve judgement until I actually play the game. But I'm just concerned that we may be in a situation where we choose a tax rate which is higher than the optimal one, costing us legitimacy and unrest, only because we didn't have the option to select a rate closer to the optimal one, especially if options are 5-10% apart. But anyway, we'll be able to tell whether that's true when we play the game.
The idea is generally that your income taxes, poll taxes and other such 'base taxes' are determined by laws and you can adjust levels, but you should not be doing this all the time, while you can use more flexible measures like consumption taxes and tariffs if you need to make up a smaller deficit or raise short-term revenue. It's also just a lot less important to have an 'optimal' revenue stream due to the removal of lump sum spending and generous loan system.

Somberg said:
Wait, does this mean that any Investment Pool money used to construct or expand industries gets listed as government revenue until construction is complete? I'm a bit confused why this is listed as such, is it just so the player knows how much money is being taken from the Investment Pool? Does this mean that the government can construct any non-government buildings the Investment Pool doesn't cover and that would be listed as a National Expense rather than as a source of revenue?
The expense for the building is always listed, while any money you're drawing from the investment fund to pay for it is listed as income up to a maximum of the spending. This is done purely for clarity, as before we did so it could be quite hard to understand when you were actually tapping your investment fund.

TheBoozehammer said:
It feels like an important thing to have for Haiti, as they owed massive debts to France that they didn't finish paying until like the 1940s, which massively impacted their economic development.
Haiti is a case where we actually have special content for their debts to France.

Cosmonaut15 said:
Are paying tribute and paying a war reparation from peace deal a source of income/expense in Vic3?
Both of these do exist, but more on that when we talk about diplomacy

alanschu said:
Curious about the construction of buildings.

Looks like they take costs during construction (which I like). I'm curious about a couple of things:

I assume workers need to work on the constructions. If so, where do the workers come from? I can see unemployed people being gobbled up (and a creative use of make work that governments have done to help combat it!), but if employment isn't an issue... do people just move from other jobs into these temporary ones? Is there a pool of construction crew on retainer?

Thanks!
We'll cover construction in a later DD, but it does use both workforce and goods.

vyshan said:
@Wizzington The US image shows the US using taxes except that during this era they largely didn't till they passed the Income tax and relied on tariffs. So I am curious why they are using poll and dividend taxes. I assume that Consumption taxes represents Tariffs but why do they have those taxes?
The US states did collect poll taxes during the era even if the federal government did not. We're also not going to be able to 100% accurately represent which countries collected what taxes and at what level because our economy is not a fully accurate scale model (in general the tax burden compared to GDP is quite a bit higher in Victoria 3 than it was in history, the same is true for both V1 and V2), but we'll try to have at least major themes like the US lack of an income tax represented. Tariffs are not actually implemented yet so that's why they're not there (yet).

Stormersh_ said:
Is debt paid periodically or does it require player action?
So long as you have a positive balance you will continually pay off the national debt using that surplus.

alanschu said:
I notice that your income tax seems to hit poorer strata more.

Is taht because poorer people tend to have their income be specifically from taxes while richer people not? Or is it possible to specify via some other means different levels of flat tax, progressive tax, etc?
It's because the income tax law (Payroll Taxes) is a regressive form of taxation, there are also flat and progressive forms.

MohawkWolfo98 said:
I think it would be great to have some, maybe as a game rule if it’s possible? Im sure players would like the challenge of trying to rescue Countries out of their dire financial situation and the feeling of leading them back to the black.
That is actually not a bad idea, no promises but I'll note it down as something we might do.

Being Earnest said:
So the state borrows money from buildings' reserves? Will the state pay interest to the buildings? Will the buildings not be able to use the money they lent?
Or is that all abstracted away?
In the current build of the game, interest payments is purely a negative and disappear into a black hole. We're going to prototype paying that interest out proportionately to Shareholders, so with any luck that's how it will work on release. My only hesitation is that mechanics which favor Pops at the (temporary) expense of the player, or vice versa, aren't clearly "good" or "bad" for the player which presents certain challenges in framing, explanation, and game dynamics. For example, a country that's deep in debt would pay a lot of interest to its captains of industry, who are quite pleased with that as the payments afford them greater luxuries (when actually they should perhaps be worried the debt will be defaulted on, and encourage government austerity and repayment). But if the country manages to climb out of debt, they're now punished by the factory owners who are mad their piles of gold are slightly smaller today.

But this kind of stuff is Vicky through and through, so we're going to do our best to make it work right.

As for the buildings being unable to use the money lent, the way it works is that if a building has to tap into its reserves, if this causes the total Cash Reserves in the nation to shrink below the current debt principal, the country goes into Default. So buildings can still use money lent by basically demanding to be repaid, but while the country is in this state it can declare Bankruptcy and bail on all lenders.

Francisco22632 said:
Every week vic3 looks nicer and nicer.
I have two questions about this topic though...
1: minting more money would result in some kind of inflation as an adverse effect?
2: would it make sense to increase to the maximum the tax rates to achieve more radicalization? (I mean if it could be a valid strategy in case I deliberately want to create a socialist or some kind of tax heaven country for example) hehehe.
Again, another wonderful dev diary!
1. Minting doesn't have an adverse effect as you're not able to adjust the minting level yourself. It is scaled automatically to a fraction of GDP, to the degree that the money supply is increased in relation to what's needed to prevent deflation but not enough to cause inflation. If we ever decide to add monetary policy settings though, this is exactly where it would hook in :D

2. Oh yeah, absolutely. Punitive tax rates on specific segments of the population - which can also be precisely targeted by high taxes on specific consumer goods - to build radicalism to power up certain popular movements is a perfectly valid galaxy brain move.

mikhail321 said:
I’m a bit worried that a low-tech building, if I understand correctly, if slightly profitable, would have exactly the same cash reserve as a high-end super profitable one, so debt capacity will be linked to number of buildings and not actual GDP. Would you consider linking part of the debt capacity to high strata pops wealth, to represent investment in government bonds, and also to reward “tall” play?
It's linked to level of building, and can also vary by type. So a Wheat Farm might have a lower Cash Reserve maximum per level than a Steel Mill. In practice "high-end super profitable" industries will be expanded while lower-tech ones will become irrelevant, so most of your debt ceiling will be provided by those industries. Similarly, rich high strata Pops will be the Shareholders in those buildings, so it's actually "their" wealth we're representing.

Jamaican Castle said:
An idea that was floated upthread is to treat the amount of the credit limit/debt ceiling a country is using as a measure of the market's trust in them - if you have modest debts, such as England in the DD, people are more confident you'll repay them than if you're running very close to the red line. So modest deficit spending might have its supporters among your pops but if it spirals out of control, they'll be steadily more worried.
Our first debt model during early prototyping did actually use escalating interest rates the closer to the debt ceiling you got, for exactly these reasons. In practice, since compounding interest and escalating interest rate becomes exponential, that made for terrible, unfun death spirals where if your investments didn't all pan out perfectly all you could do was sit and wait for bankruptcy. It discouraged players from deficit spending, which was the exact opposite we wanted from our loans system. So nice idea, but didn't work.

Samitte said:
Lovely stuff. Would it be possible to tie Minting to a building? And can the player create new taxes, or remove any of these?
Any Gold Fields the country controls adds a fixed amount of money to the Minting revenue stream.
Several of the tax categories are controlled by Laws which the player can change or abolish, thus creating or destroying revenue streams.

A correction on tariffs: It should indeed have said they're a way to make money on goods exported to your market, not from your market.
 
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This comment is reserved by me for gathering my response in, for ease of reading.

Tariffs are for raising income off exports? Does this mean that there are no import tariffs available? Seems odd, those are the main thing that people think of when they talk about tariffs.
I am also somewhat concerned that consumption taxes require authority (and will thus presumably be rather limited, especially for more democratic governments).
Those are really the most economically active forms of taxation which let you interact with and shape your economy. The others mainly just change how the distribution of taxation falls on rich vs poor (and I guess urban vs rural a bit). Not being able to play with import tariffs or consumption taxes much feels like it limits our ability to use taxation as an economic tool.
 
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@Wizzington The US image shows the US using taxes except that during this era they largely didn't till they passed the Income tax and relied on tariffs. So I am curious why they are using poll and dividend taxes. I assume that Consumption taxes represents Tariffs but why do they have those taxes?
 
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Sounds very promising.
I'm lloking forward to implement the champagne tax in order to pay for the highseafleet
 
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will there really be just 5 possible levels for taxation? Also i love the change that construction does not require you to have everything from the start!
 
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Is it weird that the first thing I noticed was the US Flag actually having the 26 star flag?
I'm guessing it might change via event as new (historic) states are added?
 
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Is the Gold Reserve Limit an abstract representation of inflation as the money becomes less valuable, or is it just to encourage spending and expansion instead of the accumulation of money?
 
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Shouldn't tariffs be the other way around. They are a way to profit from imports (not exports) and protecting domestic industry. The drawback being they make things more expensive for consumers and industry further up the chain.
 
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Land taxes only collected from peasants? What about the large landowners?

The menu for taxes seems that is open for any type of government, political party or culture. Are there no inventions/technologies/discoveries required to unlock different types of taxes?

Everyone can use everything from the start?
 
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When it comes to debt that the government needs to pay off, will historical debt from the Napoleonic wars and prior still be something that countries have to pay off. Ie do the British still have the debt that they have to pay off from the South Sea Bubble fiasco.
 
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How is inflation or deflation handled? If alot of countries are poring money into the void of their gold reserves at diminishing returns would this actually effect the game's economy or would it be handled by the in game systems.
 
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I am quite disappointed to see how clunky and un-granular the tax rate settings are. Why did you get rid of sliders?
I would think it's unrealistic. A Nation doesn't marginally change its taxes based on the effects of day-to-day life. They don't go from a 12% tax to a 12.3% in order to balance the budget. Along with the fact that a slider is too immediate, and governments rarely ever work that quickly in reaction to an economic incident
 
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Diplomatic Pacts is another form of revenue that was shown in the screenshots, but not discussed in the post. Anything you could tell us about those (as a form of revenue source)?

Also, would the divident taxes lower the investment pool contribution directly/indirectly?
 
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