No, the United States Has Not Always Paid Its Debts



Most recently, the U.S. defaulted on Treasury bill payments in 1979 shortly after Congress raised the debt ceiling. According to the Congressional Research Service analysis: “In late April and early May 1979, about 4,000 Treasury checks for interest payments and for the redemption of maturing securities held by individual investors worth an estimated $122 million were not sent on time. Foregone interest due to the delays was estimated at $125,000.” The default was due to technical problems and was cured within a short period of time.

The claim that the United States has never defaulted, despite its frequent repetition, is not strictly true. Officials could make more modest and qualified claims such as “aside from a relatively minor operational snafu, the United States has not defaulted in the post-World War II era.” Such a claim lacks the power of a more sweeping generalization, but at least it’s accurate. If President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen want to seem credible, they should avoid making historic statements that are easily refuted by a small amount of Googling. If they cannot be believed about the basic reality of the federal government’s credit history, how can we believe what they say about current policy choices?


Publication Date: 19 Nov 2021

Publication Site: Reason

The Yield Curve Is the Steepest It Has Been in Years. Here’s What That Means for Investors.



Long-term Treasury yields have been rising much faster than shorter-term yields, a sign that investors are betting on further acceleration in the U.S.’s economic recovery.

The steepness (or flatness) of the yield curve—the change in yields across different Treasury maturities—is seen as an indicator of economic growth. When the curve “inverts,” or long-term yields fall below short term yields, it is seen as a recession warning. Now the curve is getting steeper, a sign that investors expect stronger U.S. growth and inflation…

Author: Alexandra Scaggs

Publication Date: 4 February 2021

Publication Site: Barron’s