US Default Would 'Blow Lehman Out of the Water'

US has 23 times the debt
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2013 5:45 PM CDT
US Default Would 'Blow Lehman Out of the Water'
The Capitol in Washington is seen under an overcast sky at dawn.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

If you think we saw a global financial disaster with the collapse of Lehman five years ago, just wait and see what happens if the US government defaults on its debt, warn financial experts. Lehman was $517 billion in debt—the US owes $12 trillion. The unprecedented event would cripple stock markets around the world, increase borrowing costs, freeze the repo market, sink the dollar, and plunge both the US and other countries into recession—possibly depression, reports Bloomberg. "If we miss an interest payment, that would blow Lehman out of the water," says a former George W. Bush administration Treasury official.

America's largest creditor seems to agree. China's vice finance minister today asked that "the US earnestly take steps to resolve" the debt crisis, "to ensure safety of Chinese investments in the United States and the global economic recovery," reports Reuters. "This is the United States' responsibility," he said, raising the 2011 deadlock that led to the US' credit rating being downgraded. "We hope the United States fully understands the lessons of history." (More China stories.)

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