Counting the Cost

US fiscal standoff: Could the nation default on its debt?

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warns of a US default by early June if Congress fails to raise debt ceiling.

The national debt of the United States is now six times what it was at the start of this century. Despite its growing liabilities, the country has never defaulted on its payments.

However, the US has hit its $31.4 trillion borrowing limit. This means the government could run out of cash to pay its bills in less than five months. It also puts Congress on the clock – to raise or suspend the debt ceiling.

But getting lawmakers to agree on what action to take is expected to be a tough battle.

Elsewhere, Britain’s National Health Service is at a breaking point. Can it be reformed?