2023 Debt Ceiling; Are We Headed for a Financial Disaster this Year?

U.S. Debt building blocks

The United States Debt Ceiling is a debt ceiling limit set by the US Congress on the total amount of debt that the federal government can accumulate. On January 19 2023, limit and many people are wondering what will happen next.

In this blog, we look at what the Debt Ceiling is, how it’s reached, and what could happen if it’s not raised. We also discuss some of the possible consequences of hitting the Debt Ceiling for both individuals and the country. So should you be worried about the US Debt Ceiling? Keep reading to find out, or, head over to our YouTube channel and watch the video! https://youtu.be/wDPqRk-XSqM

 Plus we will share with you which U.S. President paid off the national debt.

Let’s begin with some facts and figures about the United States debt ceiling, and how it will affect you, and all consumers. A lot of people are talking about it right now because it’s been hit, but a lot of people don’t really know what it is. I’m going to break it down for you in easy terms so that you can understand what’s happening. After that, I’ll let you know if you should be worried or not.

The United States’ debt ceiling is a major factor in the overall health of our economy. Unfortunately, many people overlook this important detail due to lack of understanding. The debt ceiling sets the maximum amount that the federal government can borrow, and thus dictates how much money it has on hand for everything from welfare programs to military spending. This means that if we don’t pay attention to the debt ceiling, we could end up with a government that is unable to provide essential services and support.

Not only can neglecting the debt ceiling lead to instability in our economy and government, but it can also open us up to risk from other countries. If the US government has too much outstanding debt, creditors may be less willing to lend us money or they might require higher interest rates. This increases the cost of borrowing and can put a huge strain on taxpayers as well as businesses and investors.

Since 1960, the debt ceiling has been raised 78 times. Yet, you rarely hear people talking about it. That’s because it is a complex topic that many people don’t understand. So, should you be worried?

Each time the debt ceiling is reached, the United States is at risk. What are the consequences of hitting the debt ceiling? Well, it could mean that the government shuts down, which would be devastating for our economy and citizens alike. Why? Well, consumer spending makes up nearly 70% of the U.S. GDP and a shut down has far reaching effects. More specifically, you could see a furloughing of non-essential government employees, delaying tax refunds, delaying social security, shutting down government funded businesses, and the list continues. In addition, credit markets could suffer, leading to higher interest rates for borrowers and a weaker dollar, which means more inflation at a time when the Fed is trying desperately to bring down inflation.

So if this is such a big deal, why do we keep hitting the debt ceiling? Well, let’s looks at the financials for the United States in 2022. The United States reached it’s 31.4 trillion debt ceiling limit on January 19. Janel Yellen stated extraordinary measures must be taken to solve this dilemma. Does anyone know what that means? Does Janet Yellen know what that means? Her letter dated 1-19-23, she describes the actions that can be taken.

The extraordinary measures currently being considered are:

(1) redeeming existing, and suspending new, investments of the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund and the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund;

(2) suspending reinvestment of the Government Securities Investment Fund;

(3) suspending reinvestment of the Exchange Stabilization Fund; and

(4) suspending sales of State and Local Government Series Treasury securities.

These measures will continue to be evaluated on an ongoing basis. In 2022, the United States took in roughly $4.9 trillion, mostly from income tax and spent 6.3 trillion. That is a $1.4 trillion dollar deficit for 12 months. Can you imagine if you ran your household like this? Your banker would laugh you out of the bank.

So where did the $6.3 trillion go? Most went to social programs and services, such as Medicare and Social Security. We need to make sure that our most vulnerable are protected, but we also need to take responsible fiscal action so that debt does not spiral out of control. So far in 2023, that is not the case. In fact, according to the Treasury.Gov, spending in the new year is already $421 billion more than collected.

Clearly our country has a spending problem. Anyone that doesn’t see this must not understand simple math. Keep in mind, a huge part of the problem is promises made many years ago are still being funded at the same time new promises are being made by politicians. Even so, why not just raise the debt ceiling for the 79th time?

The answer is simple: we can’t keep kicking the debt can down the road without addressing our out-of-control spending.  Or, as President Biden portends, we must increase taxes.  It might take a little of both!  We need to pass a budget that reduces wasteful spending and stops making unsustainable promises and then make sure it gets implemented. Until this happens, any increase in the debt ceiling will be just a temporary band-aid on an underlying problem that requires more than just a short-term fix.

Now, Raising the debt ceiling and printing more money means a weaker dollar, hence more inflation. More inflation means higher interest rates. Higher interest rates mean a slower economy. Are you getting the picture now? Making things more complicated is energy prices. Let’s bring this into the conversation. In the last few months, energy prices declined. This helped inflation. But I don’t expect a continuation of falling prices. Why?

The International Energy Agency is saying Global oil demands will intensify by 1.9 million barrels a day in 2023. A huge driver of this increase is China. Their economic stagnation in 2022 led to lower demand. This year will be a different story as their consumption continues to grow. Experts say their consumption will increase by 510,000 barrels per day. I think this will lead to upward pressure on oil, working against the Fed’s mission to bring down inflation. This means interest rates may need to exceed the Fed’s original plan.

More rate hikes mean more volatility for the stock market and likely eliminating any chance for the so-called soft landing. It will be a miracle if the Federal Reserve pulls off a soft Landing.

Here’s the bottom line. We need to pass a budget that reduces wasteful spending and stops making unsustainable promises and then make sure it gets implemented. Until this happens, any increase in the debt ceiling will be just a temporary band-aid on an underlying problem that requires more than just a short-term fix. In the immediate term, you can forget a soft landing. Longer term, defaulting on our obligations become more realistic. Ultimately, out currency becomes something of the past with no value. In other words, a bankrupt country. Let’s hope it doesn’t go this far.

At this point, I suggest you have a look at our short, and long-term financial plan. Be sure you are allocated properly among investments with plenty of savings to get you through the potential rainy-day scenarios described in the video. As markets remain volatile, don’t view this as a time for fear. Instead, it’s times like these that present opportunity. 

Here’s the answer to our trivia question. Which U.S. president paid off the national debt?

In 1835, Andrew Jackson paid off all the national interest-bearing debt. He is the only president to have ever done so. Perhaps it’s time for someone who appreciates no-debt to take the helm.

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