Fink: Debt-Ceiling Hangover Should be a Sobering Message for our Leaders | Business Roundtable


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This op-ed originally appeared on LinkedIn.

America’s brush with financial Armageddon is behind us – for now. But the short- and long-term effects of the debt-ceiling crisis are still playing out, and what our leaders do from here will prove decisive in whether the U.S. continues to prosper or sees its fortunes and its finances waver.

The U.S. dollar emerged as the world’s reserve currency in the 20th century precisely because of global markets’ faith in our democracy – in our systematic ability to overcome our differences. Everyone in this country benefited from the lower borrowing costs – whether to buy a house or finance an education – that came with this status.

But over the 16 days the government was shuttered I spoke to leaders in business and government at home and abroad, and I can tell you their faith in this nation was badly shaken.

CEOs told me they are holding off on hiring and putting off needed investments in factories and equipment. Global investors are reassessing their holdings of U.S. bonds.

This is the kind of anxiety that can and will hamper growth and drive up borrowing costs if our leaders don’t address it.

The risks don’t end there. Slower growth would likely mean the Federal Reserve will have to maintain its bond-buying program, further distorting financial markets and adding to the debt overhang.

I remain an optimist: If Washington can pursue truly bipartisan solutions to avoid another debt-ceiling showdown and tackle our long-term deficit issues, the harm recently inflicted on the U.S. and global economy can be overcome.

But if we head into a New Year reviving the narrative around a potential default, overseas buyers of Treasury bonds will accelerate their move away from America with all the global consequences that entails.

All of us should let our representatives know that such an outcome is simply unacceptable: they must restore faith in our democratic system—and thereby, our financial markets.

Laurence Fink is Chairman and CEO of BlackRock.

For Fink's op-ed in the Financial Times discussing this topic in greater detail, click here.