Steven Mnuchin

Behind the scenes: The debt ceiling looms

White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The next trillion-dollar fight concerns the debt ceiling. Global markets freak out any time members of Congress or White House officials float anything other than a drama-free debt-ceiling hike.

The state of play: As a House conservative, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney pushed to use the debt ceiling as a lever to cut spending. And as Trump's budget director, he favored the concept of "debt prioritization" — an idea that thrills some in the conservative movement but horrifies the markets, the Treasury secretary and the leadership of both parties.

Expert Voices

Despite rise in U.S. oil production, OPEC still steers global prices

A general view shows oil pumping jacks and drilling pads at the Kern River Oil Field
The Kern River Oil Field in Bakersfield, Calif. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

Saudi Arabia announced an oil production cut of 500,000 barrels per day on Tuesday, just weeks after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said "U.S. friends in the Middle East" would compensate for the drastic decline in Venezuelan oil production driven by U.S. sanctions.

Why it matters: Although U.S. production continues to rise, it still accounts for only 11% of global consumption, compared to OPEC’s 32%. The recent supply cuts illustrate that sudden disruptions and U.S. sanctions that take oil out of the market can put OPEC, and Saudi Arabia specifically, back in charge of global oil prices.

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