When Will the U.S. Run Out of Cash? The Answer Is Complicated.

In letters to Congress and warnings to business leaders about the catastrophic consequences if the United States defaults on its debt, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen has repeatedly offered an important caveat.

She cannot give the exact date when the federal government will run out of cash.

The United States reached its statutory $31.4 trillion debt limit on Jan. 19, forcing the Treasury Department — which borrows huge sums of money to pay the nation’s bills — to begin using accounting maneuvers known as extraordinary measures to conserve cash and avoid breaching the cap.

On Monday, Ms. Yellen reiterated previous warnings that the Treasury Department could deplete its cash reserves by June 1. Still, the exact day when the United States will reach the so-called X-date is nearly impossible to determine.

“These estimates are based on currently available data, and federal receipts, outlays and debt could vary from these estimates,” Ms. Yellen has told lawmakers in her letters….

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This article was written by Alan Rappeport and originally published on www.nytimes.com