Category

Debt

Washington

A Debt Ceiling Deal May Not Stop a Fitch Downgrade

While the markets heaved a sigh of relief today (Wednesday) over a last-minute debt ceiling deal to avert a U.S. default, the threat of a downgrade from Fitch Ratings has not gone away.

Late Tuesday Fitch warned that it would downgrade its U.S. credit rating to "RD," or restricted default, if Congress failed to come up with a debt ceiling deal before the deadline of midnight tonight.

But Fitch added that just any deal isn't going to cut it.

Here's why it could happen and what it would mean...

Top News

The Most Important Numbers to Know Today 

200 Democrats and 19 Republicans support passing a continuing resolution with no strings attached to re-open government, according to a CNN poll of Congress. With three vacancies among 435 Congressmen, 217 votes is the minimum required to pass the measure. Senate claims it's close to a deal, but the question is how House Republicans will react – as the shutdown continues into its fifteenth day.

700% surges were seen in TWTR earlier this month. The zombie stock represents shares of home audio store Tweeter Home Entertainment Group, now traded on the pink sheets, but a one-time strip mall staple of the suburban bass head set. Tweeter went bankrupt in 2007, and shut its doors nationwide through 2008.  But, some overeager investors mistook TWTR to be the hotly-anticipated shares of Twitter, Inc. The stock, which had been trading around one-hundredth of a penny, shot up to nearly $0.05, amid the heaviest volume in seven years. FINRA has since changed the ticker symbol to THEGQ, and shares have settled back down in sub-penny territory. There's no need to worry about picking up shares of Southern gourmet supermarket Harris Teeter, either. Those shares were subsumed by Kroger earlier this summer. As for what to do about Twitter stock – take a look…

all in one place?

Washington

What a Debt Ceiling Stalemate Will Do to the Market

Yesterday (Monday), Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald appeared on FOX Business' "Varney & Co."to make projections about what a stalemate on the debt ceiling will do to the market.

We are a little more than 24 hours away from the day that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said we'll exhaust the "extraordinary measures" and go over our debt limit. But even with the impending deadline, over the last five days the market has shakily climbed, with the Dow up 2.35%, Nasdaq up 1.16%, and the S&P 500 up slightly to 1.9%.

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Washington

Here's What Happens When We Hit the Debt Ceiling

With Congress moving like molasses and time running out, more and more Americans are wondering what happens when we hit the debt ceiling.

The short answer is that it would be bad – as in catastrophically, you've-never-seen-anything-like-this-in-your-life bad.

"[It] would be like the financial market equivalent of that Hieronymus Bosch painting of hell," Michael Feroli, chief economist at JP Morgan, told the Washington Post.

Brace yourself, because this is what a default would look like...

Top News

How to Prepare for the Debt Ceiling Deadline: Oct. 17

Investors have started to hunt for how to prepare for the debt ceiling deadline since U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew put a date on the day the country will hit its borrowing limit.

"If we have insufficient cash on hand, it would be impossible for the United States of America to meet all of its obligations for the first time in history," Lew wrote in a letter to Congress sent Sept. 25, when he noted that Oct. 17 is the day we hit the debt ceiling.

you can take steps to protect yourself...

Washington

Should We Be Worried About a U.S. Debt Default?

While the stock markets so far have reacted mildly to the government shutdown, the looming Washington fight over the need to raise the federal debt ceiling could lead to a U.S. debt default.

And that, everyone agrees, would trigger a much more pronounced reaction from Wall Street.

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Chart of the Day

Here's What $1.2 Quadrillion Looks Like

The global derivatives market is big. Really big. So big – and so unregulated – in fact that no one really knows exactly how big it is, but the very best estimates put the notional value at $1.2 quadrillion dollars. That handily beats the entire world's "GDP" of $71.8 trillion. The number is so big that it really defies anything on a human scale. Humans don't do quadrillions of anything – at least not usually.

Or think of it this way: There are about 2 quadrillion stars in the "El Gordo" cluster, the largest cluster of galaxies we've observed so far. The derivatives market is galactic in scope.

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Washington

U.S. Debt Ceiling Debate: What Will Happen

A U.S. debt ceiling debate is once again on Congress' agenda. Congress has about three weeks to pass a budget, and the White House has said that U.S. President Barack Obama will not negotiate over raising the 2013 debt ceiling provisions.

We've seen this script before on debt ceiling deadlines, and with so many other pressing issues. Congress will again kick the can down the road.

Before that, a brewing showdown will again unfold, one with distinct consequences for other forms of legislation and the country.

U.S. Economy

Dire Consequences Await as U.S. Debt Nears a Tipping Point

As U.S. debt as a percentage of GDP hovers at levels not seen since World War II, concerns are growing that the American economy is susceptible to a debt crisis in the near future.

Here's why people are worried: If interest rates return to normal levels of around 5% as the U.S debt approaches $20 trillion, then servicing that debt each year will cost taxpayers $1 trillion.

Does anyone think that the Federal Reserve, as the enabler of all this debt, will be in any rush to raise interest rates?

Following Europe's example, the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio hit 105.6% in 2013, a perilous level that has long-term repercussions for the world's largest economy, according to Standard & Poor's. By 2016, right around the time that Hillary Clinton will be running in earnest to be president, the ratio will likely hit a staggering 111%.

But how much debt is too much debt? And what are the pitfalls facing the United States in the future? Both questions remain hotly contested among economists, despite a wide acceptance of a "tipping point" theory both by politicians and ordinary Americans.

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Housing Market

Here's How Much Higher Mortgage Rates Will Raise Your Monthly Payments

Where will higher mortgage rates raise monthly mortgage payments most?

These three charts from the real estate site Zillow.com depict how higher mortgage rates will affect monthly mortgage payments in different markets throughout the United States.

The charts are based on the percentage of income homeowners spend on their monthly payments, with a pre-housing bubble baseline of 20% of median household income.

The first chart shows how much more expensive than historical norms monthly payments will become in six of the priciest metropolitan areas when mortgage rates climb to 5%, assuming homes appreciate in line with Zillow projections.

Monthly payments in the San Jose metro area will increase the most (22% over the baseline) followed by Los Angeles (19%), San Diego (14%), San Francisco (11%), Portland, OR (7%) and Denver (1%).

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