U.S. government starts shutdown

The U.S. government starts shutdown after the House of Representatives refused to approve a budget for the coming year.

Despite a last-minute appeal by President Barack Obama, the midnight deadline passed amid a seemingly never-ending deadlock.

Almost 800,000 civil servants now face the prospect of unpaid leave, with no guarantee that they will get any money back for that period of lost work.

America and the world have witnessed the last few weeks of intransigence, in a country that gives others the flu when it merely sneezes.

The House of Representatives was still in session when the clock struck midnight and the deadline arrived.

Many wonder “Is this much more than a sneeze?”

Mark Mardell, North American Editor for the BBC, wrote “Now they have gone over the cliff – not because of a massive miscalculation or even misstep, but a bravado-fuelled game of dare that was almost bound to end this way.”

If it serves to calm the nerves, do not worry, the U.S. government has shut downs 18 times since 1976.

  • 1976 – During Gerald Ford’s administration. (twice)
  • 1977+ – During Jimmy Carter’s administration (more than twice)
  • 1981 onwards – Several times throughout that decade
  • 1990 – During George H. W. Bush’s administration
  • 1995 – During Bill Clinton’s administration (twice)

A government shutdown is similar to a lockout in the private sector.

Newspapers in emerging markets, including China, today have started asking the question “If our markets shake off the American shutdown, and carry on with business as usual….?” “Would this be the first sign of a (self-inflected) fall in American dominance worldwide?”