Plan revision seen if US defaults

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Neil Bradley, deputy chief of staff and policy director for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, walks through the tunnel to the Rayburn House Office Building as congressional staff continue negotiations in to the night at the US Capitol on Thursday in Washington, D.C. House Speaker John Boehner suggested earlier that Republicans may be willing to offer a short-term debt limit increase to allow for time to negotiate on reopening the government. AFP PHOTO

The Philippines would have to significantly revise its economic planning if the United States will enter into a debt default, the Department of Finance (DOF) said on Friday.

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“The Philippines would have to reevaluate economic projections in light of a US default,” Finance Undersecretary and Chief Economist Gil Beltran said in a statement on Friday.

Beltran explained that for every percentage point rise in US interest rates, Philippine interest rates rise by 0.80 percentage point.

He added that while for every percentage point rise in Philippine interest rates, the country loses 0.36 of a percentage point in real gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

Beltran, however, noted that Philippines has room to offset these negative effects of the default through monetary and fiscal stimulus.

“Fortunately, thanks to our strong and structural current account surplus, which was at 4.4 percent of GDP for the first half of the year,” he said.

Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima is urging the United States Congress to quickly reach an agreement to raise the United States’ borrowing limit, against the possibility of global economic disaster.

“It is crucial for the members of the US Congress to reach an agreement on the debt ceiling not just for their own country, but for the entire world. The world’s largest economy is now on the brink of default for no reason other than political posturing in Washington,” he said.

“It is almost as if they are arguing about how to unlock a bank vault with a live bomb. If they cannot make a deal in time, it will blow up in their hands and take the world’s economies with them,” he added.

Deadline nearing

The US Treasury has set an October 17 deadline to reach the debt ceiling, which currently set at $16.7 trillion.

The DOF explained that is the last day when the US will be able to meet all its obligations in full and on time given normal operations, and given that all legal and prudent accounting measures have been exhausted.

It further explained that should the US reach the limit on its borrowings, it would then exhaust any available cash reserves to meet obligations, and it would be forced to choose whether to honor its outstanding obligations selectively, or to dramatically cut spending to meet all its liabilities. If it chooses not to honor certain obligations, the US could be ruled as being in default.

World disaster

Purisima also warned that if the fiscal debate in the United States regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or the US health insurance reform law more popularly known as “Obamacare,” interfered with negotiations on raising the debt ceiling, the world would face economic disaster on an unprecedented scale.

“The US is in political gridlock, failing to reach an agreement over Obamacare—a healthcare reform affecting 313 million people. However, their Congress has to realize the implications of defaulting on $12 trillion of outstanding debt, almost 23 times the $517 billion in debt which forced Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy in 2008,” Purisima said.

He cited the International Monetary Fund which said that a US default can drive US long-term rates up by as high as 2 percent, crash US equity prices by 27 percent, and weaken the dollar by 13 percent. It also estimated US growth would likely be reduced by at least 7 percent.

“Emerging markets will see their growth blunted and Europe will be thrown violently back into recession. This is a nightmare scenario of the worst sort and I strongly urge the US political leadership to make all efforts to avoid this,” Purisima added.

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