This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Citigroup Calls Debt Crisis 'Insanity'

Stocks in this article: C

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- A U.S. debt default triggered by a failure to raise the Federal debt ceiling would be an act of "collective insanity", Citigroup (C) economists said in a report Thursday.

Descriptions of a default as a calamity, Armageddon, suicide or insanity is not mere hyperbole, Willem Buiter and Ebrahim Rahbari argue in their note.

"The damage would be so severe, because a default due to a failure to raise the Federal debt ceiling is neither a conventional 'can't pay' default (the country does not have the resources to service the Federal debt in full) nor a conventional 'won't pay' default (when a solvent united government and country "cocks a snook" at its external creditors), but a needless default - we have the resources to honor the debt, we really did not want to default, but we were so busy fighting among ourselves that the deadline passed," the economists wrote in a note.

While most economists still believe a default is unlikely, the probability of the event happening is no longer "negligible", the report said. And even if Congress does raise the debt ceiling, a modest downgrade to AA appears likely at this point.

The consequences of a downgrade to AA won't be as severe as a default, according to the economists, but they would be substantial. The direct response to such a downgrade would result in forced selling by investors with requirements to solely invest in AAA rated securities and an automatic downgrade of assets linked to the US sovereign rating.

Indirectly, it would increase sovereign and private funding costs, heighten risk aversion and reduce faith in the U.S. dollar and Treasuries as safe-havens.

"It is hard to see how the US can overcome the unavoidable fiscal challenges without either experiencing a sovereign debt and US dollar crisis or a recession caused by significant fiscal tightening, or both," they said.

--Written by Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Shanthi Bharatwaj.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to

>To submit a news tip, send an email to:


Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 18,053.71 +23.50 0.13%
S&P 500 2,088.77 +6.89 0.33%
NASDAQ 4,806.8590 +33.3870 0.70%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs