James Saft

Government shutdown may kill corporate debt

Apr 14, 2011 16:03 UTC

James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

If you are worried about the impact of a U.S. government shutdown on markets, you might just want to look past Treasuries and keep a weather eye on corporate bonds.

Investors will have good reason to dump U.S. corporate debt and shares in the event of a shutdown. Given that there are $29 trillion of corporate securities outstanding compared to only $9 trillion of Treasury debt in public hands some of those sales could flow into supposedly safer longer-term Treasuries even as corporate yields burst higher.

President Barack Obama proposed on Wednesday cutting the deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years, less than a week after Democrats and Republicans struck a last-minute stopgap deal to temporarily avert a government shutdown. Even so, the political divisions are deep and there are ample opportunities in coming months for impasse to lead on to nonpayment of bills, the sort of sort-of default that would doubtless send markets reeling.

“Markets will begin to anticipate a crisis,” said Rob Dugger, of Hanover Investment Group, a former partner in legendary hedge fund firm Tudor Investments.

“If government is forced into rapid adjustment it will be the private sector that gets hurt.”

Budget cuts to test banks’ mettle

Apr 7, 2011 16:03 UTC

James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

While it may well be a case of cut the U.S. budget or suffer a bond crisis, the current debate begs a question: who will pick up the slack in the economy and who exactly will finance them?

Democrats and Republicans raced, in a plodding sort of way, on Wednesday to reach a compromise budget deal that would keep the government operating past a Friday deadline.

Regardless of what may be wise, the likelihood is that there are going to be further substantial cuts in government expenditure, though this won’t begin in earnest until after the 2012 elections.