Answers to Your Debt Limit and Default Questions

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  • Debt Ceiling Dilemma
  • Q. What is the Debt Ceiling?
  • Q. How Close Is the Nation to the Limit?
  • Q. What Will Happen After Oct. 17?
  • Q. When the Government Runs Out of Cash Will It Default?
  • Q. Couldn’t the Government Simply Print More Money?
  • Q. If They Can’t Print More Money, What Else Could Treasury Do?
  • Q. Would Delaying Payments Avoid a Default?
  • Q. Could President Obama Ignore the Debt Limit?
  • Q. What do Global Investors Thinking, Are they Panicking?
  • Q. What Would Be the Economic Impact?
  • Q. Is the Debacle About an Out-Of-Control Budget Deficit?
  • Q. Why is it Potentially Catastrophic for the Government to Default?

Q. What Is the Debt Ceiling?

A. The debt ceiling is the cap on how much debt the government can accumulate to pay its bills. The government borrows by issuing debt in the form of Treasurys, which investors buy. The government must constantly borrow because its spending has long exceeded its revenue.

(Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

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