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US politics 'no longer fit for purpose' as deadline looms

The statue of Grief and History stands in front of the Capitol Dome in Washington. Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Chris Christie, New Jersey's blunt governor, shocked people when he was asked what he would do if he was a US senator right now.

"I'd kill myself," Christie replied.

This morning that suicidal thought might be even more widespread among America's desperate politicians.

The US Congress is in a terrible hole. We are now hours away from an American failure to meet its debt obligations.

Economists agree that a default is a catastrophic course of action that could cause a cardiac arrest for the international financial system.

Tea Party Republicans, the most conservative group of congressmen and women, are refusing to raise the national debt limit unless the President makes budget concessions.

The White House replies that negotiations can't occur when a gun is being held to the President's head.

The twin crisis - the shut-down of the government and the debt ceiling debacle - is a financial and reputational disaster for America.

The most powerful nation in the world suddenly looks weak and dysfunctional; its politics no longer fit for purpose.

So fasten your seat belts for a wild ride nobody wants. The world's economic health is in the hands of a group of exhausted American politicians who appear to be having suicidal thoughts.