Today, the Bipartisan Policy Center said there is a “significant risk” that the U.S. will breach its debt limit in September unless Congress acts. The last time the independent think tank projected possible U.S. default the group pointed to October or November. The U.S. hit its $22 trillion borrowing limit back on March 2 and since then the Treasury Department has been using “extraordinary measures” to meet its debt obligations. The “extraordinary measures,” however, don’t buy the Federal government endless time.
What’s changed from the think tank’s last projections? Revenues from corporate taxes paid to the Federal government are already down 9% for the 2019 fiscal year that started in October 2018.
Analysts who watch the structure of Treasury debt say that the market is already showing signs of worry about a default in September to October. Current pricing, Bloomberg calculates, shows avoidance of Treasuries that come due in that period.
If Congress takes its usual six-week recess beginning at the end of July, there’s not much time to fix the problem. The timing is even more pressing if you take into account that Congress still needs to agree to a deal on government spending for the next two years. House Democrats have argued for raising the debt ceiling in connection with a deal on government spending.
Any rally in Treasury yields due to falling Treasury prices on fear of a debt ceiling crisis could wipe out a cut in interest rates in July and/or September by the Federal Reserve.