FORTUNE -- I guess we're all supposed to feel relieved, happy, and gratified that our alleged leaders in Washington have finally managed to approve reopening the government and keeping our country from defaulting on its debts.
The stock market loved it, with the Wilshire 5000, the broadest measure of the U.S. stock market, reaching a record high on Wednesday, and extending it on Thursday, when the S&P 500 (SPX) also closed at a record high. The bond market loved it. The short-term Treasury market, which had been acting hinky as default moved from inconceivable to distinctly possible, loved it, too.
I don't know about you, but I didn't love what I saw. I'm relieved that we didn't have a debt default, which would have made the damage from Lehman Brothers' 2008 bankruptcy look like a rounding error. But I'm still angry about what I've just seen.
Why? Because we haven't resolved any of the underlying issues or even gotten good-behavior pledges from the major players. By the end of this year or early next year, we could be back in debt-ceiling crisis mode again. We've called a brief time out, but the game is still being played, and by the same rules.
Clearly, the most blame for this fiasco lies with the Tea Party types. But they wouldn't have had the impact they had without their enablers in the Republican Party, who through either conviction or cowardice didn't stand up to them until very late in the game.
And while the Democrats aren't to blame for this latest debacle, they've been, collectively, no prizes. Democrats could have long since solved the problem of the big entitlement programs -- Social Security and Medicare -- that will eat us alive if left unchecked. But rather than tweak these programs, Democrats are defending them -- and their current benefit levels -- as if they were Holy Writ handed down by the Lord from Mt. Sinai.
Then there's the White House. Two years ago, during the debt ceiling debacle in the summer of 2011, the Republican zealots managed to roll President Obama by getting him to agree to what has since become the sequester.
Then this year, we saw Obama proposing (publicly) to take military action against Syria, and proposing (semi-publicly) to nominate Larry Summers as head of the Federal Reserve. The Obama forces talked and spun and leaked, but at the last minute, faced with serious opposition, the President in both cases walked away.
If you were a Tea Party zealot, this history would encourage you to think that Obama could be rolled this time, too. In fact, had the tea party types gone after something other than Obamacare, they might have succeeded in extracting serious concessions.
In an ideal world, I would throw everyone in Washington out of office, even the good people, and start all over again with a new set. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to do that.
However, because I'm fundamentally an optimist -- an optimist who's deeply angry, but nevertheless an optimist -- I like to think that our alleged leaders might have learned something from this debacle.
It may have dawned on the tea party people that maybe they're not as right -- or as bright -- as they thought they were. It may have dawned on the Republican leaders that they should lead, regardless of the risk to their own political careers, because they have responsibilities to the country rather than just to themselves.
And it may have dawned on the Democrats in both Congress and the White House, who tend to go on about "root causes" when it comes to problems like poverty, that their unwillingness to tweak Social Security and Medicare or to challenge other runaway federal programs is the root cause of the anger that has given the Tea Party such outsized influence.
But, after all, we're talking about Washington politicians, possibly the only group who are more self-involved and self-regarding than the people in my business.
Therefore, even though I'm now about to put my anger back in the cage where I normally keep it, I'm afraid that after a brief hiatus, all the players will go back to being themselves.
And that, of course, is the most enraging thought of all.
Erdoes and other fund managers sound off on how to manage money in the shadow of a debt crisis.
By Anne VanderMey, reporter
FORTUNE -- With a last-minute debt deal winding its way through the legislature, the worst of the uncertainty that has roiled global markets in recent weeks may be past. But the upheaval has already undermined confidence in the U.S., even as the economy shows signs of life. Under MOREOct 16, 2013 2:59 PM ET
Laura Tyson, former advisor to President Obama, is "embarrassed" by the brinkmanship while Susan Schwab, who served under President George W. Bush, is less alarmist.
By Tory Newmyer, writer
FORTUNE -- Economic experts gathering in Washington, D.C., to puzzle over where the global recovery is headed understandably circled back to its gravest immediate threat. After all, the menace of a U.S. debt default has seemed to be rumbling just outside and MOREOct 16, 2013 2:09 PM ET
At Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit, Warren Buffett continued to warn against a debt default but remained positive on the economy.
FORTUNE -- As Congress scrambles to lift the nation's borrowing limit and avoid the risks of defaulting on its debt, billionaire investor Warren Buffett joined critics of the debt ceiling, calling the 1930s law originally intended to give the government more flexibility to borrow funds "a weapon of mass destruction."
"It MORENin-Hai Tseng, Writer - Oct 16, 2013 10:57 AM ET
It's still not clear that investors care what Fitch, Moody's and Standard & Poor's have to say about the quality of U.S. debt.
By Cyrus Sanati
FORTUNE -- The U.S. should expect further hits to its credit rating if Congress continues to carelessly dance on the edge of insolvency. The view that the U.S. might somehow escape this latest government meltdown without some sort of response from the credit rating agencies proved MOREOct 16, 2013 10:22 AM ET
IMF chief warns that a temporary debt deal will bring more economic angst.
By Anne VanderMey, reporter
FORTUNE -- A short-term debt-ceiling fix now appears to be the most likely outcome of the prolonged political mud fight that has shut down the government for the last 15 days. But even if lawmakers do manage to pass an extension, it will do little to resolve the larger questions over U.S. economic leadership, International MOREOct 15, 2013 10:12 PM ET
Shriti Vadera, who was a top economic adviser to former British prime minister Gordon Brown, says no one has the "foggiest idea" how a default would unfold.
By Tory Newmyer, writer
FORTUNE -- Here's a bracingly frank view of our unfolding debt default crisis from across the pond: "It's one of the most shocking things I've ever seen."
That assessment comes courtesy of Shriti Vadera, a top economic adviser to then-British prime MOREOct 15, 2013 5:23 PM ET
Markets may be calm as Congress struggles to raise the debt ceiling, but a U.S. default threatens the U.S. dollar's dominance in the world.
FORTUNE -- In a long-awaited breakthrough, Congress is inching closer to a deal that would increase the nation's borrowing limit and end a two-week-old government shutdown. The U.S. may just barely miss a default days before the U.S. Treasury exhausts its ability to borrow, but the sigh MORENin-Hai Tseng, Writer - Oct 15, 2013 10:21 AM ET
Removing the immediate threat of a global recession associated with a U.S. debt default would do little to strengthen business and consumer confidence that is so critical to a strong economic recovery.
By Mohamed A. El-Erian
FORTUNE -- If you are a federal employee, a tourist visiting our national sites, or an investor, you've already felt the consequences of the latest Congressional theatrics. If the current deadlock continues, it is just MOREOct 14, 2013 3:41 PM ET
While the U.S. federal government struggles to avoid default, finances across cities and states are on the mend.
FORTUNE – While the U.S. federal government struggles to gets its finances in order and avoid default, budgets in America's cities and states are improving.
The development is unexpected and a near reversal of the financial strains municipalities went through in the wake of the 2007 financial crisis. Property tax revenue plummeted as home prices MORENin-Hai Tseng, Writer - Oct 11, 2013 10:39 AM ET
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