Study: U.S. default would cost 6 million jobs, wipe out $15 trillion in wealth

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, found that a prolonged impasse over the debt ceiling would cost the U.S. economy up to 6 million jobs, wipe out as much as $15 trillion in household wealth, and send the unemployment rate surging to roughly 9 percent from around 5 percent.

Lawmakers in both parties agree that the debt ceiling must be raised to avoid economic calamity, but their standoff over how to do so has intensified. Despite the national debt increasing by close to $8 trillion under President Donald Trump, Republicans have been adamant that they will refuse to help Democrats increase the debt ceiling, in opposition to President Biden’s spending plans.

The Treasury Department has said it will exhaust its “extraordinary measures” to pay the U.S. obligations sometime in October, giving lawmakers little time to act to head off calamity.

“This economic scenario is cataclysmic. … The downturn would be comparable to that suffered during the financial crisis” of 2008, said the report, written by Zandi and Bernard Yaros, assistant director and economist at Moody’s Analytics.