US Borrowing Binge Risks Market Strains

The increase in the deficit has long alarmed fiscal hawks - (File/AFP)
The increase in the deficit has long alarmed fiscal hawks - (File/AFP)
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US Borrowing Binge Risks Market Strains

The increase in the deficit has long alarmed fiscal hawks - (File/AFP)
The increase in the deficit has long alarmed fiscal hawks - (File/AFP)

The US will be forced to fund a massive increase in its budget deficit with short-term debt, analysts have said, with consequences for money markets and the battle against inflation, according to The Financial Times.

The Congressional Budget Office, the independent fiscal watchdog, this week said aid packages for Ukraine and Israel would help push up the US deficit this fiscal year to $1.9tn — compared with its February prediction of $1.5tn. “We are spending money as a country like a drunken sailor on shore for the weekend,” said Ajay Rajadhyaksha, global chair of research at Barclays.

The increase in the deficit has long alarmed fiscal hawks, who warn the US’s lack of discipline will inevitably push up borrowing costs and that neither President Joe Biden nor his Republican challenger Donald Trump have substantive plans to shore up the country’s finances. The more recent shift to short-term financing may also disrupt money markets and complicate the anti-inflation drive of the US Federal Reserve.

Some of the expected increase in the deficit is because of student loan forgiveness, which is not expected to have an immediate effect on cash flows. But Jay Barry, co-head of interest rate strategy at JPMorgan, said the expanded deficit would require the US to issue an additional $150bn of debt in the three months before the fiscal year ends in September.

He added he expected most of the funds to be raised through Treasury bills, short-term debt instruments whose maturity ranges from one day to a year. Such a move would increase the total outstanding stock of Treasury bills — unredeemed short-term US debt — from $5.7tn at the end of 2023 to an all-time high of $6.2tn by the end of this year.

“It is likely that the share of Treasury bills as a share of total debt increases, which opens up the question of who is going to buy them,” said Torsten Slok, chief economist at Apollo. “This absolutely could strain funding markets.”

The size of the Treasury market has quintupled since the financial crisis, in an indication of how much the US has turned to debt financing over the past 15 years.

As the deficit has risen, the US Treasury has found it increasingly hard to finance via long-term debt without causing an uncomfortable rise in borrowing costs. It has boosted the share of short-term debt it issues — but analysts warned it risks hitting the limits of demand.



UK Borrowing Overshoot Underscores Task for New Government

Larry the Cat sits on Downing Street in London, Britain July 19, 2024. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Larry the Cat sits on Downing Street in London, Britain July 19, 2024. REUTERS/Toby Melville
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UK Borrowing Overshoot Underscores Task for New Government

Larry the Cat sits on Downing Street in London, Britain July 19, 2024. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Larry the Cat sits on Downing Street in London, Britain July 19, 2024. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Britain's government borrowed a lot more than forecast in June, according to official data published on Friday that highlighted the big budget challenges facing the new government of Prime Minister Keir Starmer.
Public sector net borrowing, excluding state-controlled banks, was a larger-than-expected 14.5 billion pounds ($18.75 billion) last month. A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to an increase of 11.5 billion pounds.
Dennis Tatarkov, Senior Economist at KPMG UK, said the data showed "the daunting task" for the new government to fund its agenda without worsening the public finances.
"A combination of high levels of spending and weak growth prospects will present uncomfortable choices – deciding between even more borrowing or substantially raising taxes if spending levels are to be maintained," he said.
New finance minister Rachel Reeves is likely to announce her first budget after parliament's summer recess. She and Starmer have ruled out increases in the rates of income tax, corporation tax and value-added tax, leaving her little room for maneuver to improve public services and boost investment.
Reeves has ordered an immediate review of the new government's "spending inheritance", a move that lawmakers from the opposition Conservative Party say could presage increases in taxes on capital gains or inheritances.
"Today's figures are a clear reminder that this government has inherited the worst economic circumstances since the Second World War, but we’re wasting no time to fix it," Darren Jones, a deputy Treasury minister, said after the data was published.
Starmer's government says it will speed up Britain's slow-moving economy - and generate more tax revenues - via a combination of pro-growth reforms and a return to political stability that will attract investment.
The borrowing figure for June was 2.9 billion pounds higher than expected by Britain's budget watchdog whose forecasts underpin government tax and spending plans.
In the first three months of the financial year which began in April, borrowing was 3.2 billion pounds higher than projected by the Office for Budget Responsibility at 49.8 billion pounds.
The Office for National Statistics said June's borrowing was the lowest for the month since 2019, helped by a big drop in spending on interest paid on bonds linked to inflation which has slowed sharply.
But the deficit was made bigger by a 1.2 billion-pound fall in social security contributions compared with June 2023. They were cut by former Prime Minister Rishi Sunak before the July 4 election that swept Starmer's Labour Party to power.