Funding Showdown Hits Your 401(k)

Sep 30, 2013 8:12am

Morning Money Memo…

The fight over funding the government could take a bite out of your 401(k). Wall Street is really starting to worry about the threatened government shutdown tomorrow – and far worse would be what may happen next month if the government defaults on its debt. Stocks fell Friday for the sixth day out of the last seven. Gridlock over passing a relatively routine debt ceiling bill is a real concern for financial markets. Around the world the US government is seen as the lender of last resort. Without an agreement a debt default could take place in mid-October. “Even if it’s a brief failure it would forever be a signal to the market that you can’t trust the United States government to make its payment when it’s due,” Millan Mulraine of TD Securities told The New York Times. “That would shake the foundations of the global financial system.”

If a partial government shutdown happens tomorrow it would be the first one since 1996. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers would be put on unpaid leave. Many contractors would see a loss of business. The ratings agency Moody’s has warned that if it drags on a shutdown would knock 1.4 percent off the U.S.’s annual gross domestic product.

Renewed political instability is also a negative for global markets. Prime Minister Enrico Letta faces a confidence vote on Wednesday after ministers from Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right bloc pulled out of the government. Though Italy hasn’t needed a financial bailout like other countries that use the euro, such as Greece and Portugal, it has high debts and the political uncertainty only adds to concern that the reform program will slip.

The fast food industry has all kinds of problems with sagging sales and growing costs. Now add another. The amount of time customers are spending in drive-through lines is getting longer. QSR Magazine’s Drive Thru Performance survey is being released today. The findings echo a recent trend. Last year Brian Baker, president of Insula Research, told QSR “complex menus are likely to blame for the fact that drive-thru speed has plateaued the last seven or eight years.”

America’s oil drilling boom is having a big impact on the prices consumers and businesses pay for energy. Oil production has come back in a big way and is one reason why gasoline prices may continue to come down.  ”North America might not be energy independent in the next couple of years but we’re really not going to depend much on Mideastern crude imports,” says Tom Kloza of Gasbuddy.com. The production boom could make a big difference in reducing price volatility for gasoline, say analysts. Another weekly report on gas prices will be issued today by the US Energy Department.

This week Twitter may announce plans for an Initial Public Offering. Its stock could begin trading this fall. The offering by the popular site is one of the biggest IPO events for Wall Street in recent years.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow

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