Wall Street Sees Debt-Limit Talks Through End of October

Debate over raising the debt ceiling will likely extend past the mid-October deadline set by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.

The U.S. Congress may have scope to extend debt-limit negotiations for weeks past the mid-October date when Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew has said the nation will exhaust its borrowing authority, according to analysts at Credit Suisse Group AG and Jefferies LLC.

Lew urged lawmakers last week to raise the $16.7 trillion ceiling by the middle of next month, and said if they don’t the Treasury would be forced to use about $50 billion in cash to fund the government. Wall Street firms are trying to pinpoint when the Treasury’s money runs out: Jefferies predicts sufficient funds through the end of October, while Credit Suisse sees enough cash until as late as mid-November.

Hoffine referred questions about such projections to Lew’s letter to Congress, which said it is “not possible for us to estimate with any precision the date on which Treasury would exhaust its cash in this situation. The rate at which cash will be drawn down depends on facts that are inherently variable and irregular.”

His predecessor, Timothy F. Geithner, used specific dates that became fodder for critics when the projections changed. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin accused Geithner of giving “different due dates” for a catastrophe and said “I don’t believe it,” according to a Washington Post report in June 2011.

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