Home Budget, Economy Latest from Vegas: Debt-ceiling odds

Latest from Vegas: Debt-ceiling odds


by Paul Goldman

Here is what I am hearing from folks who are in the business of knowing the odds on everything.

Boehner bill passing the House

Even money. If the guy had a reputation for twisting arms I might agree. Plus you got all those tea partiers wanting to run what they consider all those RINO’s out of the GOP, they could vote NO just to ruin Boehner. This is a sucker bet to me. Too much risk for an even money wager. I say they settle it Burr vs Hamilton style, on the floor of the Congress. A Senator once shot another in the upper chamber. Time for the House to show they aren’t wimps.

Boehner bill passing the Senate if it passes the House

5-1. Very interesting. The President, Senate Majority Leader Reid are all on record saying the Boehner bill can’t pass the Senate, no way. On that basis, this is a good bet for the house, since they are only giving you 5-1 odds to go against the Senate Majority Leader. Why are the odds so low? My guess: They are worried about a scenario where Boehner passes the House and the GOP in the Senate does a filibuster on the Reid bill. This leaves either Boehner or nothing. Do the bookies know something?

Reid bill passing the Senate

Even money. Even more interesting. A GOP filibuster kills it and this seems a real risk if Boehner’s bill passes the House. But if Boehner’s bill doesn’t pass, then you got to figure the Reid bill is a sure winner in the Senate. Of course, I suppose the Vice-President could rule the filibuster is out of order on the debt-ceiling. The GOP would appeal the ruling of the Chair, but it only takes a majority to sustain him.

All things considered, not a fair risk vs reward bet.    

Reid bill passing the Senate and then the House

2-1. The assumption is the Reid bill is the fail safe vehicle, it only passes the Senate if GOP Minority Leader McConnell knows it is the last train out of debt-ceiling junction. So if it passes the Senate, then Democrats and a handful of non-tea party Republicans will enact it, send the bill to the President. I can’t explain these odds.

No bill passes the Congress

10-1. This is a sucker bet as I see it, they are giving you odds to entice a wager on something they feel will not happen. No bill would mean Congress would be willing to risk a default.

President Obama acts unilaterally to prevent default on August 2 or 3

50-1. Sucker bet. No way this is going to happen on those dates. Uncle Sugar has enough cash on hand or can print it, debt-ceiling only applies to what can be borrowed. Save your money.

President Obama has to avoid default unilaterally at some point

100-1. Decent odds for a small, speculative wager. But you figure to lose.

AAA downgrade by at least one rating agency before January 1, 2012

3-1. Bad odds, the rating agencies are talking trash now, but in reality, downgrading the USA is a huge sea change, and in an election year? I ain’t feeling it right now. At 50-1 it starts getting interesting.

Boehner out as Speaker by January 1

10-1. Bad odds. But not unthinkable.

Cantor coups Boehner before the 2012 election

10-1. Give me some better odds and I might take it.

Bachmann votes Yes on the Boehner bill

100-1. You would do better trading in titanium futures. She’s on TV in Iowa saying she ain’t voting to raise the debt ceiling not now, not ever. Unless she is about to go some of her husband’s conversion therapy, it ain’t happening. But if they raise it to 1000-1, she might lay down some money and switch, the winnings could fund her presidential run. Watch the tote board.

The Debt Ceiling discussion/deal leads to more jobs

1000-1. Sucker bet.

Wall Street Bond Traders Win Either Way

Sure bet. Get down all the action you can.


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