Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Debt Ceiling Fight - It's Coming Back

For those (like the writer) who found the federal debt dealing fight of last Summer to be essentially political theater, with no resolution of long-term structural issues, we should be aware that this particular drama will probably be replayed before the end of the year, or very soon thereafter.

The current debt limit is about $16.4 trillion.  Researchers at Goldman Sachs have run the numbers and they forecast that we will hit that mark in late November, conveniently after the elections.  Shifting some federal internal finances around could operate to move that date to mid-January, but still making it likely that the debt crisis will be addressed by a lame-duck Congress.

The chart below, courtesy of Goldman Sachs, presents the reality of the situation.

Of course, an unexpected economic surprise (conflict with Iran, collapse of the Euro, etc.) could move the decision date up substantially, due to lessened tax revenue.

So, stay tuned!

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