For a little over two weeks in October, the U.S. federal government was “out of office.” From national parks to certain sections of many federal agencies, federal services grinded to a halt last month. While there weren’t any extreme catastrophes while the government’s doors were closed, many were concerned that the government shutdown would slow down the country’s economic recovery. More than anything, the risk of the government defaulting on its outstanding debt had many anticipating a spike in interest rates in the near future.
But here we are: survivors of the 16-day government shutdown, and the federal government is still paying off its debts.
So just how did the shutdown affect consumers and the country as a whole? Here’s a look at how the shutdown impacted the economy, interest rates and consumer spending:
- Costly for all. The shutdown cost the U.S. economy a whopping $24 billion.
- Treasury yields dropped. Because the shutdown halted some economic growth, yields on treasury 10-year notes hit a recent low. While this could certainly recover in the next few months, it certainly left investors with a bad taste and did not help economic growth in the short term.
- It’ll cost more for the government to borrow money. Given the uncertainty around Congress’ willingness to increase the government’s borrowing limit during the shutdown, interest rates on Treasury bills increased. This means it will cost more for the government to borrow money.
- Consumer confidence and spending dropped. According to Gallup, consumer confidence fell by the most since the stock market crash of September 2008. At the same time, weekly sales fell the last few weeks in October, a sign that consumer confidence and spending were declining simultaneously during the government shutdown. This may, however, recover during the holidays.
- Mortgage applications fell. While home sales and prices have remained steady in the past two years, mortgage applications fell by 5 percent in October. Specifically, applications for mortgages from government agencies were significantly stalled and dropped to their lowest levels since 2007.
- Some furloughed federal employees are still waiting for their retroactive pay. Sorting out who is owed what (and when) will likely be a logistical nightmare for the federal government that owes back pay to its furloughed employees. This could mean that areas of the country with high populations of federal employees may see drops in consumer spending and it may take longer for those areas to recover from the shock of the shutdown.