NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Unless Congress can agree on a deal, on Oct. 17 the U.S. government could hit its debt ceiling and not be able to pay what it owes.
Normally it's just a date on the calendar stuck innocuously between Columbus Day and Halloween. This year, it's the date the U.S. Treasury Department says it's basically broke (it will have about $30 billion in cash, and any tax money that happens to roll in).
It's hard to imagine Washington pols won't agree to a deal before then, but one bank isn't taking any chances.
According to The Financial Times, banks are stocking up on cash in their ATMs in anticipation of a government credit default.ATMs. The reasoning is simple: With the government out of money, a worst-case scenario has Americans making a run on banks in anticipation of a collapsing economy. The Treasury Department says the economic fallout from a credit default could be a freeze in global credit markets, a falling U.S. dollar and rising interest rates. Again, that's the worst-case scenario, but it's one banks take seriously. An article in The New York Times shows Treasury data revealing a default could lead to "a financial crisis and recession that could echo the events of 2008 or worse." Other banks are taking special precautions for customers who rely on government checks for their primary source of income (mostly Social Security recipients.) (MS) this week notes that there have been 17 government shutdowns since 1976. Their message clients is to not panic, and that the economy will weather this storm, as it has the previous 17 storms. "We believe there is a zero percent chance of a federal government default at this time," Morgan Stanley told clients. "The U.S. government will pay its bills."