Government officials used to see it as part of their job to calm the markets. Not anymore. Last week, President Obama and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew both said they thought Wall Street wasn't freaking out enough about the possibility of a debt ceiling default.
Right now, most of Wall Street appears to be betting that a deal will get done. But on some trading desks, the possibility of a default is starting to sink in. No one knows what it means, but everyone agrees it would be bad.
Here are some of the ways traders think a default could result in a total collapse of our financial system, or at least a disastrous scenario.
加拿大皇家银行资本市场（RBC Capital markets）的策略师们在上周发布的报告中称，华尔街的交易系统设计无法将违约的美国国债与其他债券区分开来。这就是华尔街人士所谓的热狗困境：热狗里的香肠即便只有一小块肉是臭的，你也不会吃了。
The hot dog dilemma
The general consensus is that if the government defaults it will be on debt coming due in late October. But not necessarily. And that has some traders concerned. Why? Hot dogs.
Strategists at RBC Capital markets, in a report last week, said Wall Street's trading systems are not set up to sort out defaulted Treasury bonds from the rest. This is what Wall Streeters call the hot dog dilemma: Even if a small portion of the meat going into a frank is funky, you won't eat it.
"When markets were set up, no one really ever contemplated the Treasury defaulting," says Michael Cloherty, who is the head of U.S. rates strategy at RBC.
We ran into this problem in the early days of the financial crisis. Even though relatively few home loans had defaulted, no one wanted mortgage bonds. The toxic debt had been ground up and mixed into various bonds. And those bonds had been ground up and stuffed into other bonds.
The problem could be worse in the Treasury market, which is generally made up of risk-averse investors. The fear of being stuck with a defaulted bond might cause many of those investors to run from the market altogether. U.S. debt prices would plunge. "It could be really, really bad," says Cloherty.