For those that haven't heard, the recent budget showdown may have only been a warm-up for the upcoming political clash over the country's debt ceiling. With the U.S. set to hit the current limit of $14.3 trillion by mid-May, Congress has to come to some sort of agreement or the country could default on its debt sometime this summer.
But before you start pulling out your hair and chewing your nails out of abject terror, consider this: You may benefit from a U.S. default. Whether that's the case depends on who you are, so I thought I'd provide an overview on a few groups that will likely be tap-dancing if Congress is too bone-headed to raise the debt ceiling.
1. Your best friend is gold. If the U.S. defaults on its debt, it will be absolutely horrible for the country, the currency, and pretty much every domestic business. But if you have followed the advice of extremists and put all of the money to your name in gold, then you'll be smiling from ear to ear. You might be OK with SPDR Gold Shares
2. You're a nihilist. If we learned anything from The Big Lebowski, it's that nihilists believe in nothing. So how would they feel about the demise of the U.S. financial system? You tell me.
3. You're Bill Gross. As my fellow Fool Alex Dumortier discussed yesterday, PIMCO boss Bill Gross has made a big bet against U.S. Treasuries. And really, when I say "big" I mean "massive." As Alex put it:
His short position represents an estimated underweighting of 43 percentage points in government-related securities with respect to his benchmark index -- that's completely unheard of, particularly among large, diversified bond funds like [Total Return Fund].
For obvious reasons, a default would make Gross look really good ... at least on a relative basis.
ETFs like ProShares UltraShort 20+ Year Treasury
4. You hate Tim Geithner. If the debt ceiling isn't raised, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's life will become significantly more miserable as he tries to juggle imploding government financials. Think he still looks boyish now? About five hours after the U.S. defaults, he'll be the spitting image of Gandalf the Gray.
Yes, there are most definitely some folks out there that are actually rooting against a higher debt ceiling (for the record, I don't think that Bill Gross is one of them) and a few that even think a default would be good for the U.S. in the long term. But the reality is that playing with the country's capacity to issue debt right now is a terrible idea.
Motley Fool Inside Value advisor Joe Magyer explained why we need the debt ceiling raised -- and why he's confident that it will happen -- on Fox yesterday. I, for one, hope he's right. I don't think I'd make it as a nihilist.
Confident that the debt-ceiling issue won't crater the U.S.? Then you may want to consider the potential upside of these five stocks.
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Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer owns shares of ProShares UltraShort 20+ Year Treasury, but does not have a financial interest in any of the other companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool or on his RSS feed. The Fool's disclosure policy prefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.