Monday, July 25, 2011

U.S. debt: the countdown has begun

New York Correspondent - While it is less than a week to the U.S. government to raise the ceiling on public debt, negotiations between the White House and leaders of both parties, Republicans (opposition majority in the House representatives) and Democrats (the majority in the Senate), ended with a new statement of disagreement, Sunday, July 24.

No compromise could be approved by a majority of both houses could be reached. Or an increase in the ceiling is essential that the country can borrow enough to pay all civil servants, teachers and military, its creditors (the retirees who have contributed all their lives, for example), those that attend (insurance -health of the poor in particular), and finally the open interest on its debt.

United States, the deficit of the federal state (the "ceiling") may not be increased without the consent of Congress. Its current limit at 14 280 billion (9936 billion), was exceeded in May Since then, Washington use their wits to finance itself. But treasury departments have set for Tuesday, August 2 the deadline beyond which they can no longer meet their commitments required (voted by Congress).

And if by that date, no enhancement was passed, Washington runs the risk that the rating of its debt broken down by rating agencies. It would not be a first. This could cause a blast wave which would extend far beyond the United States. It is a Friday that the crisis broke, July 22, just after the closure of Wall Street.

Yet the United States, weekends are good for negotiations in the snatch. Between the close of U.S. markets on Friday at 16 am (New York), and the opening of Asian markets on Monday morning (or 20 hours on the U.S. East Coast), this leaves fifty hours to negotiate a "deal "without the pressure of international markets.

Saturday, the Republican chairman of the House, John Boehner, as treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, had in fact refers to both market expectations for an agreement saying how they thought essential. If nothing worked, is that the political mechanisms have proved stronger. Both parties have in mind the next presidential election in November 2012.

The Republican side, there was a consensus to make the reduction of public expenditure and the concomitant reduction of taxation a key feature of the offensive against the renewal of Barack Obama. If an agreement including a major reduction of the debt of ten to twelve years now intervened between them and the White House, the argument of a "spendthrift president" would be rendered obsolete.

For the trapped politically, so they have no interest in signing a basic agreement with him. Whatever the cost to the U.S. economy and international confidence it inspires, accuse the Democrats. As for the powerful movement of the Tea Party, many within it believe that U.S. failure would be of little consequence (and perhaps even welcome ...).

For the White House and the Democrats, it is both imperative not to give in on raising taxes of the richest, and not to reach an agreement limited increase in the ceiling for some months, which would guarantee a raise debate on the campaign trail. Obama has demanded since the beginning of the negotiations that any agreement of any kind, allows the state to borrow until 2013 - after the presidential election.

We must at all costs, has yet said Sunday his chief of staff, William Daley, "get out the system uncertainty." In any case, it now appears unlikely that a "package deal" scale to emerge, but highly unlikely in open country retreat of one of the protagonists. Now, more than any other, it is the rating agencies that require such a substantive agreement, threatening, in his absence, to degrade the note of the U.S.

debt even if a solution was found as a minimum on the ceiling of the debt. Sunday night, Mr. Boehner and Democrat Harry Reid, Majority Leader in the Senate, each floor of a limited proposal. The second, in particular, would allow Mr. Obama to get such an increase is sufficient until 2013 in return for the surrender of additional taxation of the richest.

It is unclear whether the president agrees, as it would appear to his followers as an intolerable denial. But Mr. Geithner appeared not to be hostile: "Nothing is more important than removing the threat of default by the country during the next eighteen months," he said. Perhaps the president he will opt for a solution that would allow him to take only the raising of the ceiling, without Congressional approval.

But now, even if U.S. policy is very crafty and a minimum compromise in Congress is not excluded by the August 2, the probability is even lower than it was Friday. Sunday night, the economic news channels, the most discussed topic touched the ongoing preparations for investors to hedge (or enjoy) a deterioration in the rating of U.S. debt in the weeks or days to come.

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