Senior Lawmakers Discuss US Debt Ceiling Crisis The ongoing political impasse regarding the increase of the United States' debt ceiling, currently at $31.4 trillion, risks pushing the nation into an unparalleled default scenario by 1 June, barring timely Congressional action. President Joe Biden warns that an inability to lift the debt limit could plunge the US economy into a downturn, leading to significant job losses. Janet Yellen, the Treasury Secretary, takes a stronger stand, asserting that a default could catalyze a global economic recession and jeopardize the US's position as a global economic leader. Joe Biden held discussions about this critical issue with senior Republican Party representatives on 9 May. He is advocating for an unconditional increase in the federal government's self-imposed debt ceiling. However, Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Speaker of the House, insists that his party will only accept a deal if Biden commits to retroactive cuts in government expenditure to address the ballooning budget deficit. In March, the budget deficit surged to $378 billion, a significant increase from $193 billion in the previous year, as government spending exceeded revenues. This escalation resulted in a year-to-date fiscal deficit that is 65% higher than last year, totaling $1.1 trillion. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell argues the need for restraint in spending concerning the debt ceiling, a stance he asserts is not uncommon. He urges President Biden to prioritize serious discussions with the Speaker to arrive at a resolution. However, Biden counters that the demands for budget cuts stem from fossil fuel interests, with oil and gas companies seeking the government's abolition of tax credits for those installing energy-efficient devices. Another meeting between Biden and senior lawmakers scheduled for 12 May has been postponed to the subsequent week. The president hasn't dismissed the possibility of invoking the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution to declare the debt limit unconstitutional, a novel strategy that would necessitate litigation. In the face of the recent First Republic Bank collapse heightening worries about US banking sector stability, the Group of Seven (G7) finance leaders are prioritizing global financial system strengthening at their meeting in Niigata, Japan, from 11-13 May. The recent failures of US banks have amplified demands for improved global regulatory oversight, especially to address emerging risks like digital bank runs. In response to the current financial upheaval, private-credit firms such as Blackstone see an opportune moment to grow their credit businesses as US banks cut back their lending. Around 46% of the banks surveyed by the US Federal Reserve reported tightened lending standards in Q2 2023, compared to 39% in Q4 of the previous year. The G7 finance discussions will also cover topics like curbing inflation, debt relief for impoverished nations, establishing robust supply chains, and counteracting Russia's sanction evasion attempts. As the US debt ceiling issue takes center stage, Kazuo Ueda, the Japanese central bank Governor, expresses his faith in US authorities' efforts to avert the crisis. President Biden has indicated that he might need to cancel his attendance at the upcoming full G7 summit if the debt dispute remains unresolved. In other economic news, Tunisia and Egypt are inching towards major debt crises, impacting North Africa's stability. Meanwhile, US annual inflation has dipped below 5% for the first time in two years, with consumer price index (CPI) at 4.9%. In contrast, China grapples with deflationary pressures, with its CPI rising merely 0.1% in April, suggesting a need for further stimulus measures.