Analysis of the Deficit, Fiscal Cliff, and US Debt
Daily US Deficit For 1/15/2013
The US Daily Surplus for 1/15/2013 was $4.5B bringing the deficit through 15 days to $36B. Timing differences are still apparent in the data. Not only is 2013 1 business day ahead of 2012, but MLK holiday timing is throwing off the timing as well. I expect these timing issues to mostly resolve themself by next Tuesday, so by next Wednesday we should have a general idea of how January is going down.
The DTS for 1/15 has some oddities that I don’t quite understand at the moment, though I don’t think it affects my deficit numbers. I’m almost certain it us due to “extrordinary measures”, but I can’t quite wrap my mind around the accounting… Note to self…. never get into government accounting!! The gist of what they have done is somehow redeemed about $27B of Intragovernmental Debt …our pretend debt to ourselves and ended up with $27B in cash….while still staying under the debt limit. I sent an email to their usually very helpful staff…hopefully that yields some clarity. If not, i guess we’ll just have to take their word for it. In any case, this neat little switcharoo has pushed the cash balance, and debt limit cushion up to $77B over yesterday’s $50B. When coupled with the delay in tax refunds, this pushes the needle for impending default per my simple linear model to about 2/10 to 2/14. Remember that 2/15 there is a large interest payment due…~$35B from memory. If Bernanke can conjur up $27B in cash at will on a random Tuesday, it’s a pretty safe bet he can make that payment.
As a side note…regarding the debt limit, there has been a lot of talk about prioritizing payments, and all of the difficulty that would bring. I’m not reccomending this, and I fully expect a debt limit increase before we get there, but the answer is obvious…just delay tax refunds and prioritize all other spending above them until the debt ceiling is raised. Don’t get me wrong, delaying any payments is going to hurt the economy and piss people off, but delaying tax refunds seems a little bit less disruptive than not paying soldiers, social security, doctors ect… If Obama can frame the headlines that way…and blame Republicans for blocking tax refunds, I just don’t see the republicans having the spine to continue fighting. Or…it would just cause riots in the streets, but I guess that’s one of the risks of playing with fire like this. Without further ado…today’s charts.