Yes, we're only talking about a week or two, but the troubles that the "soft date" creates runs among the debates about the nation's borrowing cap, budget battles, and the timing of potential downgrades of the Aaa rating of the U.S. Assumptions that run from rebalancing of corporate balance sheets to the holdings of money market funds to the timing of the mailing of Social Security funds may all be based on a false premise.
The suspicion that the U.S. has more money available than is widely thought may have another impact. Analysts cannot understand why there has not been a terrible sell-off in the stock market. Institutional investors may suspect the validity Treasury's August 2 date as well. Why sell shares at low prices during a panic? Better to hold investments for that extra few days the government will not admit it has.
The danger that the financial system faces if it plays chicken with the date on which the federal government defaults is that an incorrect guess could damage the markets horribly as investors stay too long based on an incorrect forecast.
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