How Will the Debt Ceiling Affect Our Personal Finances?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) hold a news conference after a meeting at the Republican National Committee offices July 26, 2011. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Speaker of the House John Boehner. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/Getty)

We’ve been told repeatedly over the past several months that if the government fails to raise the debt ceiling by August 2, there could be dire consequences for the world economy. But many Americans are wondering: what does this have to do with us and our personal finances? If the government defaults on its debt, how will it affect our personal debt and investments?

Personal finance expert Alvin Hall answers listener questions about how a potential default by the federal government will impact your bottom line.


Alvin Hall

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [9]


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Mar. 07 2013 04:23 AM
Casey Kepley from

We have the money to cover this debt. Obama's speech he gave to addressing the nation on the issue actually was some what of a white lie. We can pay social security for about 18 months according to selective members of Congress. Either way raising the debt ceiling will allow us to print more money and we will print more money which will effect the CPI, GDP and we will in return get hyper inflation even more so later on down the road.

Jul. 29 2011 01:50 PM
Scott from New York, NY

Your expert, in the midst of much valuable information described the situation as both parties refusing to compromise. This is not quite right. ONE party is refusing to compromise (at least if you don't call raising the debt ceiling under any circumstances a compromise), the other is only refusing to capitulate.

Jul. 28 2011 11:10 AM
Brendan O'Donnell from Providence, RI

With such a division in the Republican party at this critical moment,
could this be evidence that the Tea Party, and the Republican Party are now 2 different political parties whose agendas are fundamentally separate?

Jul. 28 2011 09:29 AM
David from Detroit Michigan (WDET)

I thought John's point about a potential financial calamity as a result of Washington DC idiocy was on target but even more so since fixing the budget by August 2nd will do NOTHING for the debt ceiling. The debt ceiling will have to be raised no matter what they decide about the budget.

Fixing the budget will affect when or if the debt ceiling needs to be raised again but to force a default based on decisions and budgets that they have already passed is ludicrous!!

Jul. 28 2011 09:14 AM

"Self imposed misery...human idiocy"
Interesting point.
Why didn't the President raise the debt ceiling last year when the Democrats had control of Congress? Was the nation deliberately put in this difficult economic position purely for the political interests of the Democratic Party in 2012?

Jul. 28 2011 08:40 AM
Matt from Brooklyn

I understand why govt. bond rates usually drive up other interest rates: If investors can get more interest for a *perfectly safe* investment, home-buyers and small business borrowers must pay the investors even more, to compensate them for the extra risk.

But if the U.S. defaults, our bond rates will be going up *because* the bonds have greater risk. Why would *that* drive up small-business loans -- assuming the risk of the small-business loans doesn't change?

Thanks. Hope this is clear.

Jul. 28 2011 08:27 AM
Brendan from NYC

It seems unclear to me if we will default or not- but if we do, will federal financial aid for students be affected? Thanks!

Jul. 28 2011 08:11 AM
John from Chicopee Mass.

It is really NOT two parties that won't agree. It is one part of one party that has decided to put a stick into the spokes of gov't. so please don't slip into language that makes it sound otherwise. The tea party refused to agree to raise the debt ceiling without steps to fix the debt, then they refused to agree to debt corrections that included ending tax breaks for the very rich, now they are perhaps refusing to agree to a plan that only includes harsh cuts.

Jul. 28 2011 07:01 AM

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