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FameEX Hot Topics | ECB Head Lagarde Issues Warning of Catastrophic Consequences in the Event of a US Default on Debt Obligations

2023-04-19 11:12:40

The United States, as an economic superpower, has amassed a staggering $31 trillion in debt held by government and intragovernmental holding entities. The debt has grown exponentially over the last two decades, and there has been much discussion in recent times about the government defaulting on its interest and principal payments to foreign investors, foreign governments, and other entities. At the beginning of the year, Janet Yellen, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, explained how the Treasury would need to enact “extraordinary measures” to pay its debts. However, she also warned that the funds would be “exhausted before early June.”

Unless Congress changes its approach, the U.S. government may be unable to pay interest and principal to specific lenders by summer. Yellen’s extraordinary measures provided the U.S. with roughly $800 billion, and the government anticipates a substantial amount of funding from taxpayers, which is expected to last until June. Christine Lagarde, the president of the European Central Bank, expressed her confidence in the U.S. managing its finances, but also warned of catastrophic consequences if the U.S. were to default on its debt obligations. Speaking with the hosts of CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” Lagarde said, “I simply cannot believe that they would allow such a major, major disaster to occur with the United States defaulting on its debt. It is not possible. I cannot believe it would happen. If it did, it would have a very negative impact not only in this country, where confidence would be challenged, but also around the world.”

Lagarde’s comments follow economist Paul Krugman’s warning of the possibility of the U.S. defaulting on its debt. He stated that he did not know when it would happen, but it would likely occur because of a Republican-controlled House of Representatives refusing to raise the debt ceiling. “Who will trust the currency of a nation that appears to have politically lost its mind?” Krugman asked in his most recent opinion editorial. “If that happens, the threat to the dollar’s reserve-currency status will be the least of our problems.”

The ECB president also spoke about the competition between the U.S. and China, which has been intensifying recently. Lagarde expressed her belief that healthy competition is beneficial and can bring about modernization. “There is undoubtedly a competition between these major economies,” Lagarde stated. “The U.S. is the first economy in the world. China is clearly competing and is putting all forces into that competition. I think competition is healthy. It has to stimulate innovation. It has to stimulate productivity. But it’s inevitable that these two large economies are facing each other.”
In conclusion, the U.S. government’s inability to pay its debts would have severe and far-reaching consequences. It would not only impact confidence within the country but also negatively affect the global economy. As the deadline for the U.S. to pay its debts approaches, it remains to be seen how Congress will address this issue and whether or not they will be able to reach a resolution in time.

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