US debt ceiling: Special focus


Erica Jeffery
Published on:

The US Treasury released a report on October 3 addressing the debt ceiling and the potential effects of an unprecedented default. The report warns that "credit markets could freeze, the value of the dollar could plummet and US interest rates could skyrocket, potentially resulting in a financial crisis and recession that could echo the events of 2008 or worse”.

View report: The potential macroeconomic effect of debt ceiling brinkmanship
Costs resulting from the debt-ceiling debate might already be harming the US economy and affecting the financial markets.

We have seen this before: in 2011, the raising of the debt limit was blocked by much debate. This resulted in the first downgrade in the US's credit rating, a substantial stock-market decline and an increase in the costs of borrowing.
The 2011 debt-ceiling crisis resulted in the Budget Control Act of 2011 – which created the fiscal cliff – where the US Congress and White House raised the debt limit to $16.7 trillion. This new debt ceiling was already reached in May 2013 but by using "extraordinary measures" the Treasury has been able to continue borrowing while staying below the limit. However, this is expected to be exhausted no later than October 17, according to Treasury secretary Jack Lew

Here's a bit of background on the debt ceiling and commentary on some of the costs already incurred:

Government bonds: Short-term treasuries hit by shutdown chaos
November 2013

Washington politics puts dollar in peril
October 2013

Currency investors should avoid complacency over US debt ceiling
September 2013 

President Obama places his cards on the table
April 2013

US equities: Timing a turn in cyclicals vs defensives
April 2013 

Call for dollar bull-run premature
February 2013 

Against the tide: Climbing the fiscal cliff
Euromoney February 2013

Latin America: Concerns about the US hang over fresh DCM
Euromoney February 2013

Currency managers rejoice as foreign exchange correlation hits lowest level since Lehman collapse
January 2013

Fiscal cliff deal paves way for dollar slide
January 2013 

US bond bubble: fit to burst?
January 2013 Insight

Will the UK, France and US lose their remaining triple-A ratings in 2013?
January 2013 

Against the tide: A year of economic porridge
Euromoney December 2012 

USD and the election: It's the fiscal cliff, stupid
November 2012 

Eurozone fears fade as US fiscal cliff takes centre stage
September 2012


SEC infighting nobbles money market reform
Euromoney September 2012

Beware the summer lull; no time to be complacent in FX 
August 2012

IMM: Flight to USD reaches record highs
October 2011

A global sovereign crisis
Euromoney September 2011

Bond Outlook by bridport & cie, August 3 2011 
August 2011 Bridport bond outlook

US debt ceiling: Investors don't believe the hype
Euromoney August 2011 

US debt deal won't save dollar, says JPMorgan 
August 2011

US debt default would have broad, long-term impact
Euromoney August 2011

US dollar losing safe haven status, may spur intervention, says Nomura
July 2011

Aussie hits record high on US dollar recycling  
July 2011

Euro breaks higher as US debt ceiling talks waver
July 2011

EURGBP in limbo; profit with short-volatility trade, says JPMorgan
July 2011

US debt ceiling default threat leaves bond investors unmoved
July 2011

Foreign investors pull back from US dollar on debt ceiling discord 
July 2011