Friday brings an important milestone in the seemingly endless brinkmanship battle between the warring factions in Congress.
As of midnight that day, the government will run out of money and be unable to operate. The government has been running on fumes for months, using unconventional measures from the Treasury and legislative stop-gap measures to continue its spending authority.
OK, so no one actually expects a government shutdown. But in a year when the unexpected has become commonplace, it's worth pondering what would happen should the worst-case scenario transpire.
Beth Ann Bovino, U.S. chief economist at S&P Global Ratings, paints a bleak picture.
"While we believe the Senate will pass its deal to raise the debt ceiling, the impact of a default by the U.S. government on its debts would be worse than the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, devastating markets and the economy," Bovino writes.
"Should a default occur, the resulting sudden, unplanned contraction of current spending could see government spending cut by about 4% of annualized GDP. The economy would fall back into a recession, wiping out much of the progress made by the recovery."
So, yes, this is serious.