CBO: Debt-ceiling doomsday won’t come again until March. (Or maybe June.)

November 20, 2013

Is anyone eager for another debt-ceiling crisis? Probably not. But just in case, the Congressional Budget Office wants us to know that we'll likely bump up against another debt-ceiling deadline at some point between March and June of next year:

If the current suspension is not extended or if a higher debt limit is not specified in law before February 8, 2014, beginning on that date the Treasury will have no room to borrow under standard operating procedures. Therefore, to avoid a breach of the ceiling, the Treasury would begin employing its well-established toolbox of so-called extraordinary measures to allow continued borrowing for a limited time.

CBO projects that those measures would probably be exhausted in March. However, the timing and magnitude of tax refunds and receipts in February, March, and April could shift that date of exhaustion into May or June.

Note: A March deadline seems more likely at this point. A Treasury official tells me that there's "no indication right now that extraordinary measures would last longer than a month. Due to inherent variability, the numbers can go either way — and sooner rather than later is probably more likely in this instance, due to the late open of the filing season." (An analysis from the Bipartisan Policy Center also set the deadline before mid-March.)

So mark your calenders for March. Of course, it's always possible that Congress will get tired of these showdowns and simply raise the debt ceiling again before markets start getting jittery — in which case, no need to worry.

By the way, if you need a reminder of what the debt ceiling is and what happens if we "breach" it, see our comprehensive explainer.

Update: Alternatively, if it's apocalyptic scenarios you're after, check out this insane chart from the OECD's Global Economic Outlook, which shows the organization's estimate of what would happen if Congress failed to lift the debt ceiling for an entire year. Calamity ensues:


Now, very few analysts here in the U.S. think that Congress would fail to lift the debt ceiling for a whole year (the truly dire scenarios usually involve a short breach). Still, the OECD seems to be worried enough that they now rank the United States as a greater threat to the global economy than the slow-moving economic disaster that is the euro zone.

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November 20, 2013

Is anyone eager for another debt-ceiling crisis? Probably not. But just in case, the Congressional Budget Office wants us to know that we'll likely bump up against another debt-ceiling deadline at some point between March and June of next year:

If the current suspension is not extended or if a higher debt limit is not specified in law before February 8, 2014, beginning on that date the Treasury will have no room to borrow under standard operating procedures. Therefore, to avoid a breach of the ceiling, the Treasury would begin employing its well-established toolbox of so-called extraordinary measures to allow continued borrowing for a limited time.

CBO projects that those measures would probably be exhausted in March. However, the timing and magnitude of tax refunds and receipts in February, March, and April could shift that date of exhaustion into May or June.

Note: A March deadline seems more likely at this point. A Treasury official tells me that there's "no indication right now that extraordinary measures would last longer than a month. Due to inherent variability, the numbers can go either way — and sooner rather than later is probably more likely in this instance, due to the late open of the filing season." (An analysis from the Bipartisan Policy Center also set the deadline before mid-March.)

So mark your calenders for March. Of course, it's always possible that Congress will get tired of these showdowns and simply raise the debt ceiling again before markets start getting jittery — in which case, no need to worry.

By the way, if you need a reminder of what the debt ceiling is and what happens if we "breach" it, see our comprehensive explainer.

Update: Alternatively, if it's apocalyptic scenarios you're after, check out this insane chart from the OECD's Global Economic Outlook, which shows the organization's estimate of what would happen if Congress failed to lift the debt ceiling for an entire year. Calamity ensues:


Now, very few analysts here in the U.S. think that Congress would fail to lift the debt ceiling for a whole year (the truly dire scenarios usually involve a short breach). Still, the OECD seems to be worried enough that they now rank the United States as a greater threat to the global economy than the slow-moving economic disaster that is the euro zone.

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UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

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Sarah Kliff | November 20, 2013