Investors holding $120 billion of Treasury bills coming due tomorrow are increasingly worried that they won’t get paid.
Rates on the bills, maturing the same day that Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew has said the U.S. will exhaust its borrowing capacity, have surged 12 basis points, or 0.12 percentage point, to 0.32 percent this week, according to Bloomberg Bond Trader prices. The securities, issued a year earlier, traded at a rate of negative 0.01 percent as recently as Sept. 26.
“That is how fear manifests itself,” said Marc Fovinci, head of fixed income at Ferguson Wellman Capital Management Inc. in Portland, Oregon, who helps invest $3.5 billion and holds about $500,000 of Oct. 31 bills in one account. “The market is discounting a day, or several days delay in payments.”
Lew told Congress last week the extraordinary measures being used to avoid breaching the debt ceiling “will be exhausted no later than Oct. 17” and the department will have about $30 billion to pay obligations if Congress fails to reach an agreement to lift the cap. Fitch Ratings placed the U.S.’s AAA credit rating on a negative watch yesterday, citing the government’s failure to raise its borrowing limit as the deadline approaches.
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