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In a dramatic eleventh-hour move, the US government dodged a potentially catastrophic shutdown. Both the House and Senate reached a last-minute consensus on a short-term funding arrangement, securing its passage just minutes before the critical midnight deadline on Saturday. With a stroke of his pen, President Joe Biden transformed this deal into law, ensuring the government’s uninterrupted operation until November 17.

Yet, amid this sigh of relief, a looming spectre remains unaddressed—the ominous debt ceiling. This financial threshold dictates how much the government can borrow to meet its financial obligations. In August, the US reached its current debt ceiling of a staggering $28.4 trillion. Since then, the Treasury Department has employed extraordinary financial acrobatics to juggle its cash flow, staving off the dreaded spectre of default. However, these fiscal gymnastics are projected to exhaust their magic by mid-October or early November, warns Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Should Congress fail to act before this fateful juncture, the consequences could be seismic, shaking the very foundations of the US economy and the global financial system.

The debt ceiling quagmire is a breeding ground for political tension. Democrats and Republicans find themselves locked in a pitched battle, each wielding starkly contrasting strategies to address it. Democrats aim to bundle the debt ceiling increase or suspension within a comprehensive spending bill, designed to fund the government through December. This legislation also serves as a vehicle for advancing President Biden’s ambitious agenda encompassing infrastructure and social programs. Republicans, however, vehemently oppose this approach. They insist that Democrats employ a process known as reconciliation, using their own votes to raise or suspend the debt ceiling—a tactic that sidesteps Republican resistance. Democrats counter that this responsibility transcends party lines, hinging on the collective fiscal decisions made by both sides in the past.

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The shadow of uncertainty cast by the debt ceiling conundrum extends far and wide, with implications for the US dollar. As the globe’s premier reserve currency and the heavyweight champion of the foreign exchange arena, the dollar’s fate is an issue of paramount importance. Its value waxes and wanes in response to a complex interplay of factors, encompassing the nation’s economic performance, monetary policy, political stability, global risk sentiment, and prevailing market dynamics.

A potential default could sound the death knell for faith in the US government’s creditworthiness and its ability to meet its obligations. The ripple effects could be profound: surging interest rates, plummeting stock prices, a mass exodus from US assets, crippling disruptions in payment systems, a contraction in economic activity, and a financial crisis that threatens to rival or surpass the seismic events of 2008. Moreover, such a default could severely dent the dollar’s standing as a safe haven currency, potentially eroding its appeal among investors who seek safety and security above all else.

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Francois du Plessis

Market Analyst

Disclaimer: This material is provided as a general marketing communication for information purposes only and does not constitute an independent investment research. Nothing in this communication contains, or should be considered as containing, an investment advice or an investment recommendation or a solicitation for the purpose of buying or selling of any financial instrument. All information provided is gathered from reputable sources and any information containing an indication of past performance is not a guarantee or reliable indicator of future performance. Users acknowledge that any investment in Leveraged Products is characterized by a certain degree of uncertainty and that any investment of this nature involves a high level of risk for which the users are solely responsible and liable. We assume no liability for any loss arising from any investment made based on the information provided in this communication. This communication must not be reproduced or further distributed without our prior written permission.

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