X Date could be just two weeks away. The day when the U.S. defaults on its debts for the first time in history could be as soon as June 1, the Treasury warns. House Republicans and the White House are due to meet again Tuesday to try to end the debt ceiling standoff.
But what happens if this goes down to the wire?
The last time this happened was in 2011, when a similar showdown between the Obama administration and the newly-elected Republican majority in Congress was resolved only at the last minute. The near-disaster panicked the markets.
Our chart shows what this meant for eight major investments or asset classes, as represented by popular exchange-traded funds. We’ve looked at the period in the three weeks leading up to the debt ceiling deal and the four weeks afterward.
The key takeaway was that you did not want to be long “risk” assets, meaning stocks, over that period. U.S. or non-U. S., it didn’t matter. They all went down. Small-caps fared much worse than large caps.
Treasury bonds and gold did very well. And the reason was the same: A collapse in “real,” meaning post-inflation, interest rates. The irony is that because he nearly defaulted on his debts, Uncle Sam was able to borrow more cheaply in the future.