Apr 19, 2023 - Economy

How the Fox-Dominion case is like the debt ceiling

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The Fox-Dominion defamation case, like nearly all court cases, settled at the last minute. Expect something very similar to happen with the debt ceiling.

Why it matters: There is a very strong incentive for Republican politicians to talk tough on the debt ceiling, which is weirdly popular with voters in general and Republican voters in particular. There is an equally strong incentive for Democratic politicians to ignore the grandstanding.

The big picture: Whenever there has been a fractious debt-ceiling debate, it has always been settled at the last minute. Just as with the Dominion case, the settlement talks take place quietly, behind the scenes, while public statements on both sides lay out tough, extreme positions.

  • Between the lines: The closer that principals get to a highly uncertain outcome, the more they want the certainty of a settlement.
  • But, but, but: The big unanswered question when it comes to the debt ceiling debate is whether House Speaker Kevin McCarthy can even deliver a settlement, given his tenuous control of the majority.

The bottom line: Just as with Fox-Dominion, looking at public statements won't help you handicap the probability of a last-minute agreement. All that markets can do is wait in nervousness.

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