The Bankers Who Think the August 2 Deadline Is Bogus

It's a really important date and these analysts say it's about a week early

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Today, White House spokesman Jay Carney held a press conference to re-emphasize the urgency of the current impasse over the debt ceiling. "The United States hit its debt limit in May, and since May the Treasury Secretary ... has exercised all the wiggle room available to him and that runs out on August 2nd," Carney said. "That's not a guess. That's not a political opinion. It is the judgment of career analysts at the Treasury Department." You'd think a fact as important as the date at which the United States defaults would be pretty well established by now (ahem, August 2 is next week). But a number of presumably apolitical bank analysts have come out of the woodwork to challenge that assertion, raising doubts about how hard the deadline is and, as an indirect result, making it easier for the two parties to delay a compromise. Here are those analysts:

Stone & McCarthy Research Associates  This afternoon, these analysts told USA Today the firm "estimates Treasury will be able to meet its obligations until Aug. 15, possibly longer." The prediction comes from "recent tax receipt data" suggesting the government has more money than it says it has.

Wells Fargo  Analysts here told The Washington Post that "the government might have to cut back on some spending but could pay most of its bill through August."

Barclay's Capital  Larry Kantor, head of research at Barclay's Capitol told CBS News yesterday that "that recent tax revenues have come in $14 billion higher than expected, meaning the government should be able to pay its bills past August 2, regardless of whether it has authority to borrow more money." Senior debt strategist Ajay Rajadhyaksha said "If policymakers are truly falling short by just a few days on a big agreement, they now seem to have an extra week or so.”

UBS  Analysts at the bank told The Washington Post "the government will run out of money to pay all bills starting no sooner than Aug. 8."

The Bipartisan Policy Center  Obviously not a bank, the center gave USA Today a more administration-friendly estimate on when the default would occur. "The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) estimates that the U.S. will run out of cash some time between Aug. 2 and Aug. 10. Jay Powell, author of a widely followed BPC report on the debt limit, says it remains too difficult to project a drop-dead date." And for maybe the scariest quote of the day: "It's easy to be wrong by $20 billion" says Powell.

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