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Charting the Rise of America’s Debt Ceiling

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Charting the Rise in America's Debt Ceiling

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Charting the Rise of America’s Debt Ceiling

Every few years the debt ceiling standoff puts the credit of the U.S. at risk.

In January, the $31.4 trillion debt limit—the amount of debt the U.S. government can hold—was reached. That means U.S. cash reserves could be exhausted by June 1 according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Should Republicans and Democrats fail to act, the U.S. could default on its debt, causing harmful effects across the financial system.

The above graphic shows the sharp rise in the debt ceiling in recent years, pulling data from various sources including the World Bank, U.S. Department of Treasury, and Congressional Research Service.

Familiar Territory

Raising the debt ceiling is nothing new. Since 1960, it’s been raised 78 times.

In the 2023 version of the debate, Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is asking for cuts in government spending. However, President Joe Biden argues that the debt ceiling should be increased without any strings attached. Adding to this, the sharp uptick in interest rates have been a clear reminder that rising debt levels can be precarious.

Consider that historically, interest payments on the U.S. debt have been equal to about half the cost of defense. More recently, however, the cost of servicing the debt has risen, and is now almost on par with the defense budget as a whole.

Key Moments In Recent History

Over history, raising the debt ceiling has often been a typical process for Congress.

Unlike today, agreements to raise the debt ceiling were often negotiated faster. Increased political polarization over recent years has contributed to standoffs with damaging consequences.

For instance, in 2011, an agreement was made just days before the deadline. As a result, S&P downgraded the U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA+ for the first time ever. This delay cost an estimated $1.3 billion in extra costs to the government that year.

Before then, the government shut down twice between 1995 and 1996 as President Bill Clinton and Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich went head-to-head. Over a million government workers were furloughed for a week in late November 1995 before the debt limit was raised.

What Happens Now?

Today, Republicans and Democrats have less than two weeks to reach an agreement.

If Congress doesn’t make a deal the result would be that the government can’t pay its bills by taking on new debt. Payment for federal workers would be suspended, certain pension payments would get stalled, and interest payments on Treasuries would be delayed. The U.S. would default under these conditions.

Three Potential Consequences

Here are some of the potential knock-on effects if the debt ceiling isn’t raised by June 1, 2023:

1. Higher Interest Rates

Typically investors require higher interest payments as the risk of their debt holdings increase.

If the U.S. fails to pay interest payments on its debt and gets a credit downgrade, these interest payments would likely rise higher. This would impact the U.S. government’s interest payments and the cost of borrowing for businesses and households.

High interest rates can slow economic growth since it disincentivizes spending and taking on new debt. We can see in the chart below that a gloomier economic picture has already been anticipated, showing its highest probability since 1983.

Probability of a U.S. Recession based on Treasury Spreads

Historically, recessions have increased U.S. deficit spending as tax receipts fall and there is less income to help fund government activities. Additional fiscal stimulus spending can also exacerbate any budget imbalance.

Finally, higher interest rates could spell more trouble for the banking sector, which is already on edge after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.

A rise in interest rates would push down the value of outstanding bonds, which banks hold as capital reserves. This makes it even more challenging to cover deposits, which could further increase uncertainty in the banking industry.

2. Eroding International Credibility

As the world’s reserve currency, any default on U.S. Treasuries would rattle global markets.

If its role as an ultra safe asset is undermined, a chain reaction of negative consequences could spread throughout the global financial system. Often Treasuries are held as collateral. If these debt payments fail to get paid to investors, prices would plummet, demand could crater, and global investors may shift investment elsewhere.

Investors are factoring in the risk of the U.S. not paying its bondholders.

As we can see this in the chart below, U.S. one-year credit default swap (CDS) spreads are much higher than other nations. These CDS instruments, quoted in spreads, offer insurance in the event that the U.S. defaults. The wider the spread, the greater the expected risk that the bondholder won’t be paid.

Additionally, a default could add fuel to the perception of global de-dollarization. Since 2001, the USD has slipped from 73% to 58% of global reserves.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to steep financial sanctions, China and India are increasingly using their currencies for trade settlement. President of Russia Vladimir Putin says that two-thirds of trade is settled in yuan or roubles. Recently, China has also entered non-dollar agreements with Brazil and Kazakhstan.

3. Financial Sector Turmoil

Back at home, a debt default would hurt investor confidence in the U.S. economy. Coupled with already higher interest rates impacting costs, financial markets could see added strain. Lower investor demand could depress stock prices.

Is the Debt Ceiling Concept Flawed?

Today, U.S. government debt stands at 129% of GDP.

The annualized cost of servicing this debt has jumped an estimated 90% compared to 2011, driven by increasing debt and higher interest rates.

Some economists argue that the debt ceiling helps keep the government more fiscally responsible. Others suggest that it’s structured poorly, and that if the government approves a level of spending in its budget, that debt ceiling increases should come more automatically.

In fact, it’s worth noting that the U.S. is one of the few countries worldwide with a debt ceiling.

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Sports

Ranked: Which NHL Team Takes Home the Most Revenue?

The Oilers are the second-highest earning team in the NHL and the Panthers are 26th. We show the top teams in the NHL by revenue in 2023.

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Visualization of NHL team revenues

Which NHL Team Takes Home the Most Revenues?

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

This graphic shows every NHL team’s revenue from the 2022/23 season using data from Forbes, compiled by JP Morgan Asset Management.

Ranked: The Highest-Earning NHL Teams

As the final round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs wears on, two teams on different ends of the revenue spectrum face off.

Despite representing a much smaller city than the other teams at the top of the ranking, the Edmonton Oilers have the second highest revenue in the league at $281 million. The Oilers have seen the fastest revenue growth over the past five years (13%) as the team has improved.

Team2022-23 Season RevenueValuation
Toronto Maple Leafs$281M$2.8B
Edmonton Oilers$281M$1.9B
Los Angeles Kings$279M$2.0B
New York Rangers$265M$2.7B
Montreal Canadiens$265M$2.3B
New Jersey Devils$240M$1.5B
Boston Bruins$239M$1.9B
Vegas Golden Knights$233M$1.1B
Chicago Blackhawks$228M$1.9B
Philadelphia Flyers$219M$1.7B
Washington Capitals$218M$1.6B
Dallas Stars$210M$1.1B
Pittsburgh Penguins$207M$1.2B
Detroit Red Wings$199M$1.2B
Vancouver Canucks$198M$1.3B
Seattle Kraken$197M$1.2B
Tampa Bay Lightning$196M$1.3B
Minnesota Wild$185M$1.1B
St Louis Blues$184M$1.0B
New York Islanders$183M$1.6B
Calgary Flames$183M$1.1B
Colorado Avalanche$182M$1.2B
Nashville Predators$180M$1.0B
Carolina Hurricanes$177M$0.8B
Anaheim Ducks$164M$0.9B
Winnipeg Jets$162M$0.8B
Florida Panthers$161M$0.8B
Buffalo Sabres$159M$0.8B
San Jose Sharks$158M$0.9B
Columbus Blue Jackets$151M$0.8B
Ottawa Senators$128M$1.0B
Arizona Coyotes$120M$0.5B

In the 2022/23 season, the Florida Panthers pulled off a major upset in the first round of the playoffs and fought their way to the finals before losing to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Despite the success last season, the Panthers still find themselves in the bottom six in this ranking, with $161 million in revenue. The team also has the second lowest operating income in the league, after Ottawa. Florida is an emerging hockey market though, with revenue increasing 9% over the past five years.

Other Hockey Revenue Highlights

  • Along with the Oilers, the Toronto Maple Leafs sit at the top of the revenue ranking. There is a key difference though: the Maple Leafs have a higher valuation-to-revenue multiple (10x vs 6.6x).
  • Professional hockey remains attractive to advertisers. In the 2022/23 season, team-specific sponsorship revenue was 36% higher than in 2018/19.
  • The team with the lowest revenue, the Arizona Coyotes, will be moving to Utah next season.
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