Each day that passes without a deal to prevent a U.S. debt default brings the United States closer to a financial calamity that would be more severe than the failure of Lehman Brothers in 2008.
Dueling speeches from U.S. President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-OH, Monday night did nothing to resolve the impasse between Republicans and Democrats over how to reduce budget deficits and raise the debt ceiling past the $14.3 trillion limit by Aug. 2.
The contentious rhetoric of recent days has raised concerns that lawmakers will fail to reach a compromise by the deadline - with disastrous consequences.
"I've never, never seen a breakdown like this," Paul Light, a U.S. government scholar, told Reuters. "This is a defining moment in America's inability to act."
Should the deadlock over avoiding a U.S. debt default endure past Tuesday's deadline, it will trigger a financial crisis of vast proportions: