Relief around world as US avoids debt default
BEIJING — The International Monetary Fund appealed Thursday to Washington for more stable management of the nation’s finances as Asian stock markets rose after U.S. leaders agreed to avoid a default and end a 16-day government shutdown.
With only hours to spare until the $16.7 trillion debt limit was reached, Congress passed and sent a waiting President Barack Obama legislation late Wednesday night to allow more borrowing and reopen government agencies.
“World heaves sigh of relief as U.S. barely averts debt default,” said the Times of India newspaper in a headline.
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde welcomed the deal but said the shaky American economy needs more stable long-term finances. The deal only permits the Treasury to borrow normally through Feb. 7 and fund the government through Jan. 15.
“It will be essential to reduce uncertainty surrounding the conduct of fiscal policy by raising the debt limit in a more durable manner,” Lagarde said in a statement.
The Tokyo stock market, the region’s heavyweight, gained as much as 1.1 percent. Markets in China, Hong Kong and South Korea also rebounded from losses.
China and Japan, which each own more than $1 trillion of Treasury securities, appealed earlier to Washington for a quick settlement. There was no indication whether either government had altered its debt holdings.
China’s official Xinhua News Agency had accused Washington of jeopardizing other countries’ dollar-denominated assets. It called for “building a de-Americanized world,” though analysts say global financial markets have few alternatives to the dollar and U.S. government debt for trading and holding currency reserves.
Asian companies and investors had expressed confidence the United States would avoid a default. But had sold Treasurys to avoid possible losses if Washington delayed repayment. Others put off buying stocks that might be exposed to a U.S. downturn.
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